There was a discussion in our recent sales meeting about the lack of excellent sales processes at most companies. We ought to know. Led by Dave Kurlan, we've written over a thousand articles combined to help companies better understand their sales force. While many of these articles are about process, he noted in a recent article that there has not been a significant shift in this area by most companies.
The structure behind a sales force's activities is the process which they follow to bring a potential customer from lead to suspect to prospect to qualified to closed. Your CRM tool, in part, should be designed to help with process. Following it carefully and in the right sequence, can make an enormous difference on the outcome. It ensures that every good lead has the best chance of a successful close.
I was recently in lower Manhattan and noticed the progress which was being made on the Freedom Tower. It occured to me that the sales process is similar to building a skyscraper. To an outside observer, it looks like a magic trick. How do they get the crane to go continuously higher as the building gets taller? Don’t you need something higher than the building to lift it up? How do you attach enormously heavy windows and cladding to the outside of the building which is a thousand feet up? How do you accomplish seemingly simple things like getting water to come out of a sink on the top floor? It seems impossibly complicated and daunting.
How they build it is beyond me, but it's clear that they have a process. They do things in order. The order makes sense. They are experts in their field. All of the contractors and suppliers work together so that each piece fits on the next one in the proper order and at the proper time. They are aligned in their purpose. Without this process, the building can’t be built. If they do it out of order, they have to tear part of it down and redo it in the proper order.
A sales process works the same way. For sales to be effective, there must be a structure and a process. It must be executed in the proper order. If it’s out of order, it gets stuck. Think about the specifics of your sales process for a moment and ask yourself some questions:
- Do we have a process?
- Do our people use it?
- Does management insist that it be followed, in the right order?
- Is the sales organization aligned with my view that the process is important?
- Is our CRM tool a good fit for our business?
- Am I concerned about pushing my people too hard?
- Am I fearful of the consequences of change?
For even more sales process issues, read Frank Belzer’s recent article. While you’re at it, download his new E-Book on having a great 2013. Your team must be experts at selling your products to your market. Are they working together with management in alignment with your corporate mission and standards? Are they helping to build an edifice of effectiveness where strong growth is standard and where your business stands out above the competition like a skyscraper?
Take a few minutes to grade your sales process. It’s free. Whether you take it any further or not, it could be valuable and useful information. Increasingly, companies are asking us to rebuild their sales process. They're looking for greater accountability, better metrics, clear action items, measurable progress and outstanding results. If you're interested in having a conversation like this, let me know.