A Process-Centric Approach to Sales Effectiveness: Are Your Sales Processes in Sync or Out of Control?

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Most barriers to sales effectiveness can be traced to dysfunctional processes. But when sales performance lags, organizations may be tempted to spend money on “point” solutions—more sales training on how to close sales, more prospect lists and more brochures—while they fail to look at ways to improve the underlying sources of dysfunction.

Clearly, organizations need strong processes that allow the various players in sales and marketing to work together to meet common objectives. Unfortunately, sales and marketing typically have the least mature processes compared to product development, finance and accounting, service and support and other functions.

A holistic approach

The challenge facing most sales managers is how to see their sales processes holistically. To do this, organizations have to understand what makes them effective in generating demand and revenue, as well as, of course, what limits their effectiveness. They also have to understand how the right processes and technology make them efficient.

Many organizations, however, focus on effectiveness (such as training on closing techniques) and neglect efficiency. Few sales organizations even bother to thoroughly document their sales processes—a first step in determining where the process is working and where it isn’t. That’s where Enterprise Process Modeling comes in.

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The right things in the right way

Enterprise Process Modeling is based on the premise that when you have a problem to solve, different parts of the organization have to be in harmony to solve that problem. They need to share the same information, work toward the same goals, use the same tools and speak the same language.

EPM brings the different components together to make processes more effective and efficient. It helps you look across functional lines and traditional boundaries to enforce a holistic view of demand generation and revenue achievement. It provides a more structured and systematic approach to sales management, which has become mandatory for many companies in today’s economy.

Aligning processes to strategic objectives

A process-oriented approach ensures that your business processes are aligned with your strategic objectives, as well as your sales objectives. Improving sales effectiveness can lead to expanded revenue opportunities, improved marketing effectiveness, a shorter sales cycle and a host of other similar goals. In all cases, you need an enterprise view of how you attract and capitalize on your customer interactions to effectively drive revenue.

Effective processes that maximize your sales opportunities depend on having the right information at the right time in the process. Making this happen for your sales team is manageable when your people, process, technology and data are all aligned with your strategic objectives.

The role of technology

In the past, many companies have been quite successful without leading-edge CRM product suites. Some still are, and they dominate their marketplaces or industry niches with little more than contact management software, Excel spreadsheets and email.

If implemented properly, CRM product suites can provide a means to achieve organizational goals. But they are not solutions, themselves. If improperly implemented, CRM applications can lead to lost business capital, strain already thin IT resources and create a lack of credibility among employees.

Organizations that lack insight and understanding into their sales and marketing processes may hope that CRM software will force the organization into adopting more effective and efficient processes. The truth is, CRM software by itself does very little. Rather, it is a framework for organizing processes to maximize successful prospect and customer interactions. But first those processes have to exist, and the ones that give you a competitive advantage have to be identified and understood. Only then can you use CRM to make these processes more efficient.

That’s why enterprise process modeling is an essential prelude to planning for a CRM implementation. It helps you understand what you are doing right today and shows you how to leverage CRM to make your business processes more efficient.

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