Sales Process Optimization: Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater!
In this time of tremendous change in the buying and selling dynamic, we’ve seen a real spike in client interest in updating and optimizing their sales processes.
Your sales process has to reflect how your customers buy. Your sales process has to be designed to help your customers through their buying process. Your sales process has to be based on your best and most effective practices and support your strategic direction. So, as the buying process changes, it only makes sense that selling processes need to change.
At Richardson Sales Performance, we believe in a dynamic sales process that is clearly defined and followed but gives reps and managers support as opposed to strict directives. Research from CSO Insights supports this approach over a process that is purely random or one that is formal but overly rigid.
A dynamic process acknowledges that customers likely are well-informed and increasingly savvy about their needs. It recognizes that sales reps need more latitude to challenge customers and to think outside the box and get creative about creating value for the customer. However, before we even start talking with clients about a “dynamic” process, we start by finding out the degree to which a client understands their own sales process.
According to Harry Dunklin, our Sales Enablement Practice Leader, “When we start to ask questions about whether they have a sales process, sometimes we will hear that they do. We asked one company, for example, a new client. What they showed me was a book on professional selling skills ... To them, that was their sales process. In some situations, when companies have developed their own sales process, it is very inwardly focused. Their process is based on internal processes, procedures, stages and expectations. In some cases, we have been successful at getting the decision-makers to think differently. A sales process has to look at things from the point of view of the customer. If you can map out how your customers buy and then mirror that with selling, you have a sales process. The sales process is designed to help customers buy.
“We have to understand our client’s perspective on their sales process because we work with what works in the client company. We don’t try to reinvent the wheel; we improve how the wheel is used. This frequently has to do with change management principles. This means that if we impose something, it is much less likely to be adopted. If we develop it based on what is already working and part of best practices, and then enhance it with what we know to be the experience outside of their company — outside of their industry — what we have is a really strong process.
“This is much more likely to be adopted because it is based organically on what already works in the company. We are not asking people to do things that they have never done before. We collaborate to create together a sales process rather than trying to import something.”
This is less risky since it links the new system to what is already there. For an aside, this is good sales — relate the new to the old.
Dunklin continues: “What we do is define those stages and the activities within each of those stages. More importantly, it should be integrated into the workstream. We call that a work product. The work product that we deliver is a published sales process. In addition to the steps and stages and activities in the sales process, we are also delivering predicted, verifiable outcomes. They are, for example, the nine or ten key transition points in any sale process that, if they are done right, predict success. If they are not done correctly, or if they are neglected, they predict failure or stalling.
“We work really hard to identify what those things are and then, in addition to the verifiable outcomes, we also create a set of coaching questions that tie to each verifiable outcome. This gives the manager the ability to diagnose the status of an opportunity or a relationship, or both very quickly, before they feel the need to coach.”
Once the sales process has been optimized, it can be embedded into your CRM workflow through a tool, such as Richardson Sales Performance’s Sales Process Pro. This approach significantly increases adoption and impact.
If your buyers have changed and your sales process hasn’t, then we encourage you to contact us about how we can help you optimize your process with minimal disruption to your business.
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