Many years ago I was hired as a sales manager for a company that’s sales had been flat to declining for the previous three years, but its markets had been growing 30-plus percent during the same period. It was hard to tell the problems during the interview process, but once I was on-board and had a chance to view the sales team’s people’s individual behaviors, I discovered each salesperson had their own methods and style. No one was following a defined sales process or using the best practices of their team members. Everyone was doing his or her own thing. And, it wasn’t working, to boot.
The first thing we did was to define a sales process and document the methods of the more successful salespeople on the team. We identified key metrics that were measured not quarterly, not monthly, but weekly. We acknowledged publicly and weekly those team members who advanced their personal metrics that aligned with the company goals. Slowly, but surely, the quote turn-ratios improved, outbound dials increased, and then, sales increased.
So, what are the benefits of having a defined sales process based on best practices and a proven sales template? Here are a few ideas:
- Every selling event will have a road map that anyone on the team can follow, including the sales manager.
- Because a process or road map is in place, the team will have a common language to discuss where in the selling event the prospects is located.
- If there is a defined sales process, it is easy for the manager to determine where the wheels fell off the wagon when the salesperson is struggling and how to then repair the wagon/process.
- When the prospect is in the defined selling process, using the team’s experience and best practices, the salesperson or manager should have a good concept of what is needed to close the prospect.
- With a defined process and experience, the length of the sales cycle will be better anticipated and understood.
It should be apparent that I have a bias as to what is the best sales process or template. Whether you use mine or develop one of you own, do you have a system in place that is used day in and day out? If not, why? If yes, are you using a continuous improvement process to define best practices?
Dave Harman is an associate with Sandler Training. He has over 30 years’ experience in sales and sales management with Fortune 500 companies as well as small, family-owned organizations. He has held positions from sales to senior management with companies such as Conoco/Vista, Amresco and Ohio Awning, and owns his own business. He earned his MBA with a concentration in Marketing from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. You can reach him at [email protected] or (888) 448-2030.