The Importance of Consistency Provided by the Sales Process
There are two things that unite virtually every sales organisation: 1) the desire to improve sales performance and 2) to achieve results as quickly as possible. In this series of posts, I discuss three ways in which the sales process can be used as a blueprint for rapid behaviour change that drives better results. The first post in the series focused on common language; this second post focuses on the consistency provided by the sales process.
Consistency Across the Organisation
The leading concern of sales executives is the lengthening of sales cycles, with deals getting stuck in the pipeline. According to research reported by the Aberdeen Group, in September 2015, 52% of sales executives reported this as a top concern. The Aberdeen report also found best-in-class sales organisations reported a 16% shorter average sales cycle than under-performing companies.
More research, this time by Harvard Business Review, also in 2015, discovered that sales forces were “most effective in managing their sales pipelines if they had invested time in defining a credible, formalised sales process. In fact, there was an 18% difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and companies that didn’t.”
As you might expect, just having a sales process doesn’t guarantee success. The process itself must meet a number of qualifiers to be effective.
- It must be aligned with the buying process of customers
- It must provide clear direction for sellers’ activities and outcomes at each stage
- It must become part of the conversation that sales managers have with their direct reports, coaching them to develop their skills and adopt desired behaviours
The second biggest concern of sales leaders, as identified by Aberdeen Group research, was that “sellers can’t differentiate themselves/us from competitors,” which at 37% signifies a major problem. Again, consistency is part of the solution, both in process (what needs to be done) and in skills (how things are done).
Sales leaders want to be confident in their teams’ ability to be credible and valuable partners to their customers. They need a consistent way to determine what happens in the field and whether sellers have the skills to clearly articulate value.
The sales process can provide that consistency, allowing sales managers to quickly diagnose where the problems are and recommend changes in behaviour to make sure that their people are doing and saying the right things at the right times. The outcome should be a greater consistency of selling behaviours across the organisation and have a positive impact on the sales cycle, accelerating results.
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