You are probably thinking: “Why should I spent time building a sales process and adopting a complex sales methodology at this stage of my company? We are growing fast, beating our forecasts at every quarter, and need to prioritize hiring more salespeople to manage the volume of leads.” I know, it has been a successful business so far without needing to rely on process and methodology. One might think that those concepts are only for established companies who focus their resources on optimizing their existing engine. What’s more, sales process and methodology are usually undervalued by sales leadership. The reality is that the growth factor obscures one of the most important measurements of successful business: sales productivity.
I have already written about the importance of the sales process and how it differs from a sales methodology, but in today’s post I want to emphasize why adopting both is a must for companies on a fast-growth path and hunting for new customers. I will also share a few tactics in how to manage process and methodology in your current sales platform.
Hiring sales people can be expensive and jeopardize profitability in the long run. A sales process will codify the way you manage your customer engagement and help you nail the sales execution to your ideal customer profile. I heard from a podcast with Matt Tarczyński, CEO of Woodpecker.co, that he preferred 5 long-term, profitable customers over 100 customers with high churn rate. I believe in the same approach of focusing on a clear sales process to help your sales reps strengthen their business relationships with your Ideal Customer Profile.
Also, you need a sales methodology to help your sales reps provide a great experience for potential customers during the opportunity execution. Sales productivity will be an issue sooner than later in your growing company, and establishing a clear sales process with supporting sales methodology will help your new and current reps create a sustainable business.
There are many reasons why a sales process and methodology are key components of any sales organization in a B2B company, adopting them will help you meet six distinct goals:
- Have a predictable pipeline with a clear path to win customers. Otherwise, you will inflate the pipeline with many bad deals that will create distraction and unnecessary resource consumption among the team members.
- Provide the best experience in every interaction between the reps and the prospects to produce value throughout the sales cycle, giving you a unique advantage over your competitors. A customer often makes buying decision according to the experience they got through the process because they expect the same after the deal is closed and won.
- Set a uniform benchmark to measure your reps’ performance and offer clear expectations from the get go, ensuring employee satisfaction across the organization. You want to convey that your company values consistency and transparency as part of its core practice.
- Simplify the onboarding process for new reps by training them on the standard sales process and methodology to avoid disparity by the time your managers want to inspect and coach the new sellers. The foundation of your sales execution should rest on one training process, one execution strategy and one master content.
- Interconnecting your core sales disciplines requires a clear and well-defined sales process. When you work on your forecast, when you call the team for an opportunity review, and even when your team is heavily investing in planning around the accounts, it will be a disaster if the sales process is not clear among participants assuming many scenarios, in other words a big moving part of the total sales execution equation.
- Align your sales organization with other key departments including marketing, customer support and operations. A clear sales process helps your team have meaningful conversations with these groups because they will better understand how the business operates and the help that you need from them.
Now that the motivations are clear, I hope you’re inspired to invest time adopting a sales process and methodology. However, you still may be asking yourself: How much effort do I need to invest? What is wrong in my current process? Which methodology should I adopt? I am going to suggest a simple way to take over this initiative. Follow these recommendations to jump-start adoption:
1. Document your sales process (as suggested in my previous blog posts) from the onset and then assume it will evolve based on feedback from your sales reps and current customers. Call your customers and interviews them about the process they went through with your team. Your initial sales process document should have these elements:
o Suggested actions for the rep
o Powerful questions to assess the criteria
o List of quality content to support the engagement
o Sales techniques that have worked the best in the past
2. Modify/update the outlined sales process as soon as you learn something new, which could mean adding/removing sales stages, updating exit criteria for the sales stage, and adding suggested actions, among other changes.
3. Train all your team with the sales process and with any updates. Give special focus to training your sales managers in how to leverage the material to drive their inspection and coaching (I&C) discussion. Establish a cadence for the I&C following the sales process.
4. In the short term, assemble your team after every deal won to identify best practices and effective techniques related to the sales methodology and incorporate them in your training and onboarding materials. Keep it simple—when you have a clear idea of the key techniques find which sales methodology available in the marketplace best fits your organization’s needs to implement a major adoption initiative.
5. Finally, make noise, good noise. Make the sales process and methodology visible for all sales team members. You can laminate them to hang in front of your desk, incorporate them inside your CRM tool, build and attach posters around the conference room or shared office, do several knowledge check campaigns applying gamification, and leverage great designers in your company to develop an internal marketing campaign.
I applied a few of these recommendations in my previous job at Microsoft and it resulted in fast and painless landing for the sales teams and managers. You might want to run pilots with a few teams before you implement a full rollout, but that decision depends of the size of your organization.
Sales productivity can be interpreted in many ways. Some leaders want their team investing more time with customers than managing internal activities. Others want their sales reps to focus on high-quality opportunities while many just want their reps to sell bigger and more deals with the same constraint of resources and knowledge. In any case, productivity can’t happen without a clear and simple sales process accompanied by a defined sales methodology. Adding more reps to the equation will exacerbate the problem and later you will find that the root cause of the productivity issues was because the team never had a clear understanding of how to do business with customers, resulting in high churns and high cost of sales. Do yourself a favor and take one fiscal quarter to establish these elements by running a couple of workshops among the sales leaderships team and inviting your top-performing rep to participate. You will see that adoption is easier than you might expect and can envision your sales organization becoming stronger from these outcomes.
We can help you to fast-track adoption and ensure clarity throughout the process by applying tools and proven practices in your sales organization. Feel free to connect with me for a free consultation.