Does Your Company Really Need a Sales Process?
We’ve all heard it before. The books and consultants say “You really should have a sales process” and “You will sell more if you have a sales process.” Is that really true? There are all kinds of businesses that seem to be doing just fine without having a formal process. In fact, as consultants we see it all the time. A business does $20M -$50M a year, is very profitable, but they have no formal sales process. So does it really matter? The answer is “no” – up to a point.
Let me explain further. Businesses can get to a certain level of success (revenue and profit) by being opportunistic, customer focused and by having really smart people that make good products and services. Those smart people can get to a fair amount of deals and close them and the company is good at retaining customers through great customer service. But at some point the bandwidth of those smart people gets tapped. Sometimes that is at $1M in revenue. Sometimes it is at $50M or more. But at some point, sales growth stops or slows significantly because you have maxed out the bandwidth of the current people in the organization and new people can’t ever seem to replicate what they do. To get past that, a Sales Process helps significantly.
That’s when you need something that is repeatable over and over again. Something that gives clear direction to anybody new to the organization as to what to do, how to do it and when. This is your company’s “secret sauce” for winning deals over the competition, differentiating your products & services and retaining & growing your customers.
So what is a “Sales Process?” Think of a true Sales Process as the following:
- Stage – specific steps that moves a Lead to a Prospect and to a Customer. Each step should have specific goals. For example, the goal of a “Qualify” step is not to close the sale, but it may be to gather specific information to see if this prospect is worth pursuing or not and also to secure a Discovery or Needs Analysis Meeting.
- Activities – specific things that should be done at each step. This could be things such as Identify Decision Makers, Gather information about x, y and z, etc.
- Tools/Resources – Specific tools and templates that can be used. This often includes templates, documents, brochures, etc.
- Customer Commitments – this is an important step that many companies miss. What does the customer need to commit to at this point in order to move to the next step in the process? This could be as simple as a meeting with decision makers or could be supplying you with data or information you need to form a proposal. They need to show some skin in the game that shows this deal is moving in the right direction.
The more specific you can get with this process makes it that much easier for someone new to follow your secret sauce. The companies that do typically realize the following benefits:
- Higher close rates on deals
- More accurate forecasts
- Lower turnover of reps
- Fewer deals outside your sweet spot
- Higher number of reps hitting goal
- Quicker ramp-up time for new reps
So, is your Sales Process good enough? Ask yourself this – if you were new to your organization, would you have enough direction, tools and know-how to be able to learn how to sell your company’s solutions effectively? If you aren’t sure, you could probably benefit from a Sales Process.