Processing Your Sales Process
If you ask most firms about their sales process, it seems as though the question is so basic that—of course—everyone in the firm knows the answer. When we dig deeper, we often find the case is very different. Many firms don’t really consciously consider what steps are in the process and whether those steps should be there. Instead, they have “backed into” an approach. The approach can sometimes work well even without a lot of planning. When sales stutter and revenue suffers, however, the company doesn’t know where to look to fix the problem.
We recommend taking the time to talk about, and then document your firm’s sales process. Sales process is not only important for the sales people, sales management and senior management to understand but is also vitally important for creating marketing materials that offer an ROI. See our next article for more on this topic.
Sales process—it sounds so simple. You call some prospects, you send them information and you ask them to do business with you. What else is there? Except—when they don’t do business with you, what’s missing? If you assume that the product or service is decent and saleable, and we assume that the market is the right one, what is wrong? Most companies assume the problem lies with their salespeople, and the salespeople feel the problem lies with the company’s support, especially from the marketing department.
So very often the problem lies in your process. So what should you consider when looking at the sales process? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are we targeting the right prospect(s)?
- Are we contacting them in the manner that works for the market they’re in?
- Do we provide the appropriate information at the right stages?
- Do we get the right people involved at the right time?
- Do we understand the prospect’s buying process?
- Do we understand the link between the marketing approach and the sales approach?
- Do we have a proper feedback loop in place?
- When do we or should we modify our process?
- What checks and balances are in place to monitor the process and its effectiveness?
Next, actually take the time to document the sales process for each line of business, for each market and for each salesperson or group. It can be an interesting discussion when you get salespeople in a room to help document. Often times salespeople in the same channels, going to the same markets, do not agree on the specific steps. Without agreement on steps and process, it is difficult for the rest of the firm to support the sales activities. And—it is next to impossible to ensure that marketing materials are created that will be useful and useable for your specific process.
In summary, if your salespeople are complaining, or your sales are not as expected, or the sales effort is encountering unexpected obstacles, consider paying attention to sales process. Even if you are enjoying great success, it is important to understand the process to ensure the success continues!