There’s no set formula or silver bullet for sales success. If there were, sales would be a lot easier! But neither should sales be attempted in a haphazard manner. A set sales process can help to shorten sales cycles and improve productivity, while also giving managers insight into their salespeople’s performance.
A sales process does more than help salespeople work leads through the buying cycle, however. It helps sales managers make informed decisions too. Specifically, here are five ways a manager can use the sales process to generate revenue more effectively:
- Use objective criteria. Once defined, a sales process provides objective criteria and the framework to make decisions. Say a sales group is underperforming. What numbers or facts are available through the lens of the sales process to pinpoint the problem? From the pipeline or opportunity review standpoint, there are specific data points you can rely on for analysis. Is it in the types of clients they are calling on? Are your sellers getting stuck in prolonged evaluations that never yield a decision? Or is it in the close ratio? It doesn’t matter where the problem is. What matters is that you are able to look at each problem objectively with certain criteria and then correct the course.
- Allocate human and technological resources. How much should you spend to hire and train people? Or how much should be invested in CRM or other sophisticated software tailored to your business? As you pinpoint where bottlenecks exist, the lens you look through will help to determine whether you need people or technology to improve.
- Spot the need for sales training. On the front end of the process, many solid lead generation services exist to help identify qualified opportunities. Usually the challenges that happen toward the end of the selling process stem from the skills of the seller—or lack thereof. With a sales process in place, you can identify weaknesses in your sales team’s skills. Is the problem how they qualify an opportunity and create value on the solution? Do they struggle to effectively negotiate and close? Once you’ve realized the weak areas, you can provide training to overcome them.
- Increase visibility into new areas for growth. This may be viewed as a decision based on gut feel and economic trends, but hard data is needed as well. A sales process delivers the hard data you need about what types of customers are attracted to your product (prospect profile) and why they are attracted (which capabilities and related value). If this data is not captured in a consistent way, then the top management loses connectivity and an ability to analyze trends with proper perspective—leading to poor and costly decisions.
- Lose quickly. This is not a popular topic, but it’s a reality: There are two winners in sales, the vendor who gets the business and the vendor who withdraws quickest from the competition. When you have the necessary insight, you’ll know when to withdraw and get your sales team focused elsewhere.
This is only a partial list, but it demonstrates that a sales process does more than guide your salespeople to closing. It helps drive revenue in a number of key ways!