The following is a guest post from Patrick McLoughlin of GrowthPlay, a sales effectiveness firm that partners with its clients to drive revenue growth.
Optimizing your team's sales process is a job that's never finished. With new growth targets always part of the equation as well as changes in buyer behavior, you need a process that allows you to effectively recognize and take advantage of needed improvements.
A defined sales process has consistent steps that align the way you sell with the way your buyers buy. Requiring your reps to make X number of calls a day is not a sales process. Outlining the fields that need to be entered in your CRM isn't a process either.
Your CRM is an enabling technology of your sales process. Ensuring its alignment is a critical step in ensuring adoption and protecting the investment of your CRM. 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 surefire way to miss your revenue goals.
A CRM is a foundational element to an effective sales process, but your CRM is only as good as the sales cadence that surrounds it. Consider the sales process in your own sales organization. Does it contain these key elements?
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.
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
Efficiency and alignment are critical elements of sales productivity. They are also a key component to an effective CRM. When your CRM enables an effective sales process, it 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.