Efficiency and alignment are critical elements of sales productivity. An effective sales process provides a vehicle to enforce discipline, repeatability, predictability and validation of progress throughout a sale.
Most importantly, it allows for inspection and planning – in advance. Sales is the engine that drives your revenues. The process behind it deserves thoughtful attention. Here are five must-haves for every great sales process.
1. It Aligns With Your Customer's Buying Process
A great sales process has a firm understanding of your customer buys. The rise of the connected buyer means your sales organization needs to account for a buyer who is more educated and researched than ever before. They’ve done their homework on your solution – and your competitors’ solutions as well. Make sure your sales process is buyer-centric and tightly aligned with their buying process, not the way you want to sell.
2. It Delineates Roles and Responsibilities
There should be a clear definition of who is responsible for what and when they're responsible for it. When is sales ops involved? When does sales leverage marketing? At what point should procurement be looped in? Delineating roles and responsibilities provides accountability and much-needed checkpoints for you as a sales leader to intervene if problems arise.
3. It's Focused on Customer Verifiable Outcomes
We talk a lot about using Customer Verifiable Outcomes to build qualification into the sales process. These buying indicators help provide you with the necessary information to advance the opportunity to the next stage of the buying process. They may include things like (1) the organization has to invest resources around a new product or a recent acquisition, or (2) your prospects may have documented pain points that they’re under pressure to correct. Sellers that use Customer Verifiable Outcomes are able to better validate deals, where they otherwise would be guessing. Remember, it’s the customer that drives the sales process, not the rep. If your reps don’t focus on staying in sync with the customer and reading their buying signs, they greatly increase the probability of losing the deal.
4. It's Supported by Complementary Tools and Collateral
Once your reps understand the process, they need the tools and collateral to effectively execute. Easy-to-use tools and collateral are essential to helping your reps not only follow the process, but successfuly move opportunities forward.
5. It Has Consistently Enforced Qualification Criteria
Simply following a sales process doesn’t guarantee that you’ll close the deal. You have to continuously qualify the opportunity throughout the sales process to ensure that the opportunity warrants your investment of time and resources. Qualification is critical because it ensures reps are spending the right time on the right opportunities and not wasting time on one's that won't happened. Here are four questions that can help you qualify throughout the sales process.
- What is the pain, has it been quantified, and why do they need to do something about it now?
- What is the cost if the customer does nothing?
- What is the compelling event?
- What loss of revenue, additional cost or impact to the customer will be incurred if a decision is not made?
Developing tools like Opportunity Qualifiers and Pre-Call Planners will help your sales team consistently manage opportunities. Inspecting and reinforcing with these tools will hold sellers accountable to their use. It will also help your managers determine when and where to apply additional selling resources.