Building a well thought out sales process is the key to unlocking your sales teams potential. Map your sale cycle to increase your sales velocity and improve your close rate.
By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals
In most organizations, salespeople are among the most highly compensated individuals. There are few other professions that are as heavily incentivized around maximizing time spent on particular actions. Since salespeople are selected for and heavily incentivized around productive sales activity, it makes sense, and they’ll thank you, for a broader focus from the company on streamlining the selling process.
Before we talk about sales acceleration, we need to first understand what decelerates the sales process. We’ve all run across them, those big speed bumps that you have to run right over to keep the sale moving forward. Most barriers that salespeople run into are, sadly, the product of either themselves or of their companies. Salespeople can slow their sales process by failing to follow up or misunderstanding the buying process. In either case, the customer isn’t receiving the information they need to make a decision when they need it. Whether too early or too late, mismatching the information in your presentation to the customer’s needs leads to confusion, overthinking the problem, or mistrust.
Companies create blockers for their sales people in the form of inadequate training, incorrect sales process design and policies that restrict the salesperson’s latitude to serve clients. While issues with individual reps are usually easy to remedy, through good hiring practices and sales training, systemic sales issues can be much more challenging to fix. Overcoming these challenges requires focus from top level sales management at a minimum and sometimes outside help to redesign the sales process.
Thankfully, barring examples of deep institutional dysfunction, sales managers have a variety of tools at their disposal to help their sales organizations overcome obstacles and accelerate their sales process. Sales acceleration is about optimizing the sales process. Some of the fixes are simple and easily solvable with the right tools. Others are more complicated and require broad support to enact meaningful change. The remainder of this article will examine some of the key elements of an accelerated sales pipeline.
Map The Touch Points
Today’s sales processes can be complicated. Mapping out the sales process as an organization can go a long way to removing variance in the customer experience. This structured process goes much further in getting the entire sales team to adopt the best practices of top performers because it provides concrete steps to follow and a clear means to assess the effect and accountability. The best sales teams in competitive industries today are utilizing multichannel communication methods, meaning they are pairing direct interaction with salespeople with email and social outreach to reach customers in a coordinated manner.
By establishing a defined process, the heavy lifting of content creation around emails and sales collateral can be done by marketing or sales enablement. The goal of moving these tasks away from the sales team is to free up time for salespeople to engage in the most value-added tasks possible. A lot of sales outreach is relatively routine and fits well into automated tasks. Other parts of the process can require a great deal of individual judgment and finesse. It’s these parts of the sales process that organizations need to free their sales people up to focus their time. In the same way that sales organizations have broken the funnel down into different roles, sales technology is allowing organizations to further focus the attention of their top performers on bringing revenue into the organization.
Organize The Follow Up
As complex sales cycles require more touch points to complete a sale, they also require more follow up. Follow up is essential throughout the process to meet expectations and even to gain access to the right decision makers. The difficulty with the growing intensiveness of the sales process is that it’s more challenging to perform at scale than a more transactional sales process. In follow up, just like in outreach, there is an opportunity for sales automations to do much of the heavy lifting.
In some cases, follow-up messages can be reliably predicted well enough to sculpt the message in advance and deliver it when certain milestones are reached. In most cases, though, follow-up needs to be very contextual to what is happening specifically in that sale. These events are not a good fit for total automation; however, there is still an opportunity for technology to aid the process. By setting tasks and events to present automatically to the sales person at certain points in the sales process, CRM systems can provide a framework for engaging prospects on an ongoing basis. By prompting salespeople to follow up, the practices of top performers can be replicated across the team, and visibility can be maintained on tasks that are normally among the most commonly forgotten.
Give The Whole Team Visibility
The goals behind creating a consistent framework go a step beyond creating an efficient sales process. By transforming the sales funnel from a tangled ball of yarn into a well-oiled machine, managers can create a process that is reproducible and equitable. This is good for salespeople because it means they are competing on an even footing and have access to to the groups combined experiences in the form of best practices. It’s also beneficial for managers because process improvement creates higher overall sales yields.
Beyond the immediate benefits to sales outcomes, creating a sales process means adding predictability to the difficult task of growing business. Being able to forecast outputs based on inputs gives a company the ability to invest in the sales organization with confidence that it will yield the desired results. This level of control is in line with advances in fields such as project management and logistics in the past several decades and offers an opportunity for similar gains.
Sales teams have remained largely unchanged in their organization and the variance of their people since the modern sales organization was born sometime in the mid 20th century. In the meantime, many of other aspects of businesses, large and small, have changed dramatically. It’s time for sales to join the business world in delivering predictable and highly target results. We, of course, can’t guarantee which customers will buy, but we can change the sales process. By establishing a robust process for moving customers towards the purchase, we can create a system that is optimizable by the same tools and processes that are generating gains across the rest of modern businesses. Bring your sales team into the 21st century and map your sales process.