Articles by Graham Y. Sales - General Why Do You Need A Sales Process?
An Article by
A Business Trainer from Woking, United Kingdom
7%-38%-55% Communications MythBy Robert P.
Top 10 Big Mistakes Of Big BusinessBy Francis T.
Climate Change Is Real! Act Now!By Kathrin G.
Improving The Quality Of Decision MakingBy Niladri R.
Knowledge Management And CreativityBy David G.
Top 10 Big Mistakes Of Big BusinessBy Francis T.
Best Practice Benchmarking - The Path To ExcellenceBy Robert C C.
What Is A Healthy Company?By Raymond H.
Challenges And Opportunities In The New EconomyBy Alkistis A.
Managing Bad Debt - Importance Of Good Collection SkillsBy GERARD A.
Why Do You Need A Sales Process?
The benefits of having a defined sales process
Whether you have a formal sales process or not, most successful sales people actually use one even if they are not aware of it. The word "process" comes from the Latin procedure, to proceed and is a series of operations or stages which lead to an end product or outcome. Regardless of the product or service your organisation sells, or the size of your operation, it can benefit from identifying and defining the sales process.
Without having a sales process, how can you really manage your sales operation? You know what is, or is not, achieved. You do not necessarily know how it was achieved, or why it was not. Management is about achieving results and doing so consistently. To do this you need to understand the how and why. These are the elements you can monitor, act upon where necessary, refine and correct. Achieving your results is an outcome of doing the right things right – and this is where your sales process helps. If you miss out on possible sales and have no clear sales process, you do not really know where it went wrong and, consequently, what to correct or improve.
Organisations which have a clear sales process and integrate it into the way they sell, their sales management and customer planning will be more successful in:
- targeting prospects
- qualifying leads
- effectively presenting features and benefits
- effectively cross and up-selling
- sell value and discount less
- introduce new products or services.
Those with no process, or who do not make their process integral to their sales operation measurably underperform in these areas.
The key principles for any sales process are that it needs to be a logical flow, easy to breakdown into its component parts, able to be monitored, adaptable to suit different selling situations and it can be changed to allow for market conditions. The concept is not new – the Xerox Corporation first identified their sales process about 50 years ago! When working with our clients we have found some sales processes can seem to be very simple because that is appropriate for their market, whereas other might appear complex as their sales cycle and steps are quite involved. Too often organisations develop a sales process which fits the way they think they like to sell without paying enough attention to how their customers buy. Having said this, not every customer buys in exactly the same way so creating a sales process to accommodate this variety is a challenge!
In identifying the best sales process for your organisation it makes sense to start by defining the buying process(es) of your main customer groups. You may find that there is more than one buying process, depending on whether it is a potential new customer or repeat business. However, there may be a number of similarities between them and you can allow for these in your process. Some organisations actually have a structured buying process, especially for significant purchases.
Even without a formal process your prospects and customers will go through a series of steps, almost a personal buying process, even if they are not aware of it. Their process might work at two levels, the more formal steps which may be required by their organisation and the informal and personal thoughts they use. Many years ago when I was going through my training as a new salesman, I recall that we were told that the prospects will ask the following questions:
- Will I see this person?
- Do I want to give them my time?
- Do they seem to know what they are talking about?
- Would I do business with their company?
- Do they provide something which we want or need?
- Do I want to deal with the salesperson and their company?
(I’m sure there is another question which I have missed, but it was a long time ago!) Basically, to be successful a seller has to be able to get a "yes" to each question. The sales process needs to help to achieve this and, at the same time, reflect the more formal buying process.
We have been involved with helping organisations to develop sales processes from scratch for new sales operations as well as identifying the best process for established teams. Experience shows that where you have an existing sales operation it is very effective to use the sales team, or a cross-section of them, to work together to identify the steps they go through and arrive at a consensus as a basis for your sales process. (It can help to have a facilitator for this.) This example gives an indication of a simple process where the labels have been able to spell out a word which helps people remember the process.
To move this process beyond what is a fairly obvious set of steps, and appears to be totally focused on the selling organisation we have another level of detail. It is this which makes it unique for the organisation where it is used. Against each of these steps are two additional, and much more detailed, stages. On the one side we look at what the customer’s expectations would be at that step and on the other we list the specific best practice activities and behaviours required from the seller. It is driving down to this level of detail which makes it a really effective tool, even if it goes into what might seem to be a statement of the obvious!
For many organisations trying to sell in the present market there seems to be a disconnect between their sales approach and the way in which customers are buying. Too often they come into the buying process once it is well underway, which makes it difficult to influence things. Developing the right sales process for your organisation can help you to reduce the frequency of this happening within your team, and increase the possibility, or even probability, of gaining more sales. Figures from CSO Insights show that organisations in one industry sector alone felt that having, and using, a sales process improved sales performance by over 80% (of which, over 30% was a "significant improvement".)
As a sales management and a sales development tool a good sales process can help everyone concerned and improve the effectiveness of the sales operation. For sales managers it can be built into both planning and reporting systems. Knowing where people are in the sales process can improve the accuracy of forecasting, and also help to identify any patterns where problems occur. By having a better grasp of the steps in the process the sales managers, and the sales people, can spot difficulties a lot earlier and take action rather than getting more irate after sales targets are missed.
When carrying out field visits and sales coaching, the sales process provides a "template" or baseline to assess and coach against. If you have broken down the process to identify the specific behaviours and skills for each stage it is clear what is required for any training or development. When bringing in new sales people, a good sales process can help you to recruit, it enables you to be clear about what is expected so that the applicants can decide if it is right for them. The sales people can use the process to help them identify their own strengths and areas for development. As a tool it provides a huge support for all involved. The well defined process does not have to restrict good and successful sellers as they will already be following most of it. However, even they might find that there are some elements where they can improve further!
There is so much evidence for the power and effectiveness of a well defined (and utilised) sales process, it makes me wonder why so many organisations do not have one, or use the ones they may have. Less than 40% of organisations have a formal sales process, and within that figure, many do not insist on it being an integral part of their overall sales operation. CSO Insights also found that "revising the sales process" was the joint 1st priority for sales managers to improve sales effectiveness. It is not that difficult to develop your own process and to make it detailed whilst fitting with any formal buying process and the individual’s questions listed earlier.
If you already have a sales process, when was it last reviewed or revised? Whatever your situation, ask what is stopping you from doing something about the sales process? Get on and do it. All of the evidence is that it helps sales performance. Think of it as a "must have" and not a "nice to have". Your good sellers will be following a process of their own, often without realising it, and it provides a great basis for managing and directing the sales operation. It does not restrict the top performers. What it can do is lift the middle of the road performers and the under-performers and improve sales results.
This Article is authored / contributed by ▸ Graham Y. who travels from Woking, United Kingdom. Graham is available for Professional Training Work both Virtually and In-Person. ▸ Enquire Now.
What's your opinion?
23 more Articles by Graham
Ask For More - You May Get More!!7 min. If you are involved with sales, how do you feel when you hear phrases such as, "Can you do anything about your price" or, "You'll have to do better than ...
Manage Stress And Mental Health To Improve Performance6 min. Stress and mental health are not issues which managers should ignore. They cost the organisation money, both directly and indirectly.
Can Nlp Help Or Harm Your Business?15 min. The simple answer to the above is, "both"! It depends on a number of things. Perhaps the first thing to explore is your reaction to seeing those three ...
You Think Absenteeism Is A Problem? Worry About Presenteeism!6 min. It is estimated that about 60% of GBP 23bn in lost productivity in the UK is from presenteeism!
Careful What You Cut!9 min. Enhance your negotiation skills to keep afloat in tough times
Presentation Paranoia - Prevention And Cure17 min. Have you had this feeling before? Rest assured you are not alone. You might be one of the many who would rate your fear of public speaking alongside or ...
Is Your Sales Forecast Too Sunny?9 min. How to improve the accuracy of your sales forecasts
Leadership - Do You Use Or Abuse Power?6 min. How do you prefer to "control and influence" others?
Why Leadership Matters In Professional Practices7 min. Too many organisations are "over-managed and under-led" to quote Warren Bennis. There is a difference between leadership and management.
The Cost Of Stress - The Need To Monitor And Manage The Risks!10 min. Not only are there a lot of potential risks arising from the spread of stress within an organisation, it costs a great deal of money!
When Will Organisations Really Take Stress Seriously?7 min. Most organisations and many managers within them are probably aware of the costs and consequences of stress and stress related problems. They may have ...
You May Be Taking The Wrong Approach To Selling!8 min. Are you hitting or beating your sales target or quota? If not, are you blaming the market, the customers or your competition? If you are making your target ...
Encouraging Successful Change10 min. Two key dimensions to successful, and effective, change initiatives
Does Your Culture Support Or Sabotage Your Strategy?8 min. When a company's culture is not right with what is needed for strategic success, the culture has to be changed as rapidly as can be managed!
Be A Successful Sales Manager Not A Super Seller!8 min. How many sales teams suffer because their sales manager is not doing their job at the right "level"? Sales figures suffer, sales people suffer and the ...
Building Your Personal Resilience To Reduce Stress7 min. A look at why developing greater resilience matters.
Think Before You Speak!9 min. How many times have you said something and realised that the person, or people, on the receiving end have not fully understood what you meant or headed ...
Implementing Change Successfully10 min. A challenge for most managers is to initiate or implement change programmes - and lead people through them, whether in the way they work or what they do. In this, lies one of your major challenges...
Coaching Can Get The Boss In Shape8 min. Who tells the boss that they can improve their management or leadership? How do they look at themselves objectively and identify what areas they can improve and the benefits of doing so?
Coaching Or Mentoring - Does It Matter Which?4 min. Some differences and grey areas where Coaching or Mentoring overlap
Sales Success In Tough Time9 min. It is not about having some new magic method for selling, it is about applying the things you have perhaps forgotten.
Who Do You Talk To?7 min. When you are a leader in a business you face a number of challenges at different levels. Ask yourself how much focus you put on to these...
Back to top