If you’ve generated a sale, the good news is you already have a sales process – technically speaking. However, the process is most likely unwritten, unrepeatable, unmanageable, and quite FRUSTRATING!
The goal is to create a process (a series of sequential steps) that will achieve an exchange of money for a product or service (a sale). This process should be documented, lead to repeatable and manageable outcomes, and be a win-win for the company and the customer. In other words, it should be a sales process to be proud of!
To create a winning sales process, start with the desired outcomes, build a process to deliver the outcomes, and then add in appropriate technology to support it.
1. Outcomes. Ask yourself what you want from the ideal sales process. It might be to establish a common vocabulary, support consistency and usability of a CRM, allow accurate forecasting, or provide a framework for training and feedback. These are fine outcomes, but they are inwardly focused. Consider outcomes for the prospect as well, such as having useful information at the right time, having guidance through the decision-making process, and achieving the value sought. For both sides, it’s great to minimize time, effort, waste, and risk through the journey.
2. Process. First and foremost, the sales process needs to mirror the way customers in the target market want to buy. This starts by identifying the major milestones that will happen in a typical deal. As a common example, having steps for discovery, product demonstration, and internal alignment makes sense, but this can be overbearing. This is an extreme example, but having a specific discovery meeting for the person deciding between a latte or an IPA in one of those new-age cafes will alienate most anyone. Similarly, forcing customers to sample both while presenting the technical details of the coffee bean and hops used to make the product will send your customer to the shop down the street. And don’t dare ask if they have enough money to pay or their mother’s approval to do so.
3. Technology. Over time the sales team will discover ways to streamline the sales process and technology may help do so. A phone and email are technology requirements for any sales process, of course. The longer the sales cycle and the more people involved with the buying decision, it will make sense to add technology to help prioritize deals and keep the best ones moving forward. A simple CRM may be all that’s necessary. Adding complementary applications may actually be a good idea, but poorly integrated software ends up confusing the process, going misused or unused, and becomes nothing more than wasteful overhead for the organization.
Create a winning sales process by first considering the desired outcomes, define the important milestones of the deal, then support the process and people with technology.
Erik Host-Steen, founder of SMP Alignment (www.smpalignment.com), helps business leaders achieve revenue goals by using simple and effective tools to align the company’s sales, marketing, and product functions to a market-centered purpose, vision, mission, or strategy. Follow Erik on LinkedIn (in/erikhoststeen) and Twitter (@smpaligment).