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The Elements of a Strong Sales Process

by Rachel Clapp Miller /

Gears.jpgEfficiency 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.

Best-in-class sales organizations have a defined sales process that's aligned with how their customers buy. As a result, their salespeople are able to judge where they are within the sales cycle by what the customer is saying or doing, not by "gut feel" or anecdotal evidence.  

Consider the sales process in your own sales organization. Does it contain these key elements? If not, it's likely your sales process is causing deals to fall through each quarter. 

Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Multiple departments are engaging with your buyers throughout the sales process (e.g., marketing, product, services, etc...). Define the roles and responsibilities of each department and team member. Everyone needs to understand what they're accountable for at each stage of the process. 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. 

Alignment with the Buying Process

One factor that separates a great sales process from an average one is customer alignment. How does your buyer buy? How do your customers leverage digital content? What decision makers are most often part of the process? Your chief buyer may be the CIO, but are you also talking to the CFO? 

Strong Understanding of Customer Verifiable Outcomes

Customer Verifiable Outcomes are the buying indicators that help a salesperson qualify to the next stage of the  buying process. The organization may be launching a new product or may be in the middle of a recent acquisition. These are factors that may impact movement towards a buying decision. Identifying what these CVOs may be for your buyer will help your reps better validate deals, where they otherwise would be guessing. 

Supported with Resources and Tools

Demanding certain behaviors and results from team members without giving them the necessary resources and tools is not only a bad way to run a sales organization, it's a sure fire way to miss your revenue goals. Ensure your reps have the resources and tools to execute efficiently. 

Consistent and Ongoing Qualification is Performed

Elite selling processes include consistent qualification throughout the sales cycle. Early qualification is important to target the right types of buyers. However, you also need an exit strategy, in case a salesperson realizes the time investment won't generate a strong return.

Throughout the process, you should have built-in check points that have the reps identifying:

  • Well-defined buyer problems and pain points
  • Risk or cost to customer of non-action
  • The compelling event
  • Opportunity costs of non-decision

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. Great tools will also help your managers determine when and where to apply additional selling resources.

Sales Leader Action Guide: Improving your sales process

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