It's an interesting statistic that 68% of the companies surveyed claimed to have a formal sales process. Yet, when tested, only 9% of salespeople actually follow one. See the research in the White Paper written on Sales Force Excellence by Dave Kurlan. This important research shows that of the companies that saw "significant sales increases" due to the adoption of a formal sales process, 73% of them had evaluated their teams. Based on my experience with sales teams across dozens of industries, the importance of an evaluation cannot be underestimated in the context of sales process because it uncovers the difference between the claims and the reality. Let's look at how sales process, used correctly, ensures you beat your goals.
In an article posted in July, I discussed the 7 Sales Training Success Factors to help you avoid sales training failure. If you missed it, read it here. Readers asked for an expanded description of these factors which can now be found in the links below for the specific factors that have become articles of their own. As a reminder, the 7 Success Factors that avoid sales training failure are listed again here:
Top 7 Sales Training Success Factors
- Pre-evaluate the sales team, systems, and processes (Article posted 10/8/2018)
- Formal, staged, milestone-centric sales process (This article)
- Trainable sales team (Article posted 8/14/18)
- Trainable and coachable sales managers (Coming soon)
- Training the managers before training salespeople (Coming soon)
- Salesperson training with sufficient time scale (Article posted 9/23/18)
- Sales leadership accountability (Coming soon)
We know that that lack of a formal written sales process most often prevents sales teams from meeting company goals. When the problem is corrected, sales increase. In fact, 75% of companies reported an increase in sales as a result of adoption of a formal sales process. An effective sales process must have the following attributes:
- Easy to follow
Now wouldn't this be a good time to describe what such a sales process looks like? Yes it would, but I don't need to do that because Dave Kurlan already wrote a book about it. Buy it here. Or listen to it here. And if you're thinking it's unfair to direct you to an entire book to find the answer, this article provides a handy short cut.
Once your sales process is ready, the next step is to make sure leadership does the following:
- Get everybody using it
- Track it with a pipeline tool
- Train the sales team on how to use it
- Coach the salespeople so they are always improving
The sales process serves these three key functions:
- Guides the salesperson on how to take an opportunity from lead to close
- Sets the agenda for training
- Provides a coaching tool to help managers improve their people
The biggest challenge for managers is not the evaluation, not the creation of the sales process, not the lack of skills on their team, not all the sales DNA getting in their way, and not their own lack of coaching skills. No, the biggest challenge to managers will come from the resistance they face from salespeople who don't want to change and who cause others to doubt that anything good will come from it, creating a negative atmosphere that stifles progress. Overcome that, and you'll be part of the 9% who both have and follow a sales process so you can also be one of the growing number of companies, that might include your competition, that see growth directly attributable to their effective adoption of a formal, customized, staged, milestone-centric sales process.
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