Is Your Sales Process Producing Results?


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The Sales Process is the cornerstone to sales excellence-for both individuals and organizations. Recently, I reread Miller Heiman’s 2010 Best Sales Practices Study. One very interesting result shows that in 94% of World-Class Sales organizations, executive leadership is actively engaged in the sales process. For all other organizations, only 48% had active executive engagement in the sales process. Executive engagement in establishing, leading and coaching a sales process is critical in driving high sales performance.

Most businesses continue to struggle to fund business, to make sure they are competing for each opportunity–maximizing their ability to win. The results of the Miller Heiman study indicates that a strong sales process is key to high performance. Yet, over 50% of organizations don’t have a sales process, and another large percentage don’t use the process they have in place. It’s inconceivable, in today’s changing buying environment that leaders seeking to maximize their performance don’t put strong sales processes in place and train/coach their people in executing them with precision.

Yet, I continue to see lots of resistance to establishing and coaching sales processes.

Sales people tend to be very independent, we hire people for that quality of independence. Some sales people chafe at being required to use a sales process, they want to do their own thing, they “know,” how to sell. However, as sales leaders, we can’t let everyone do their own thing. It’s our responsibility as leaders to lead. We have to make certain our people are performing at the highest levels possible. It’s rare that people achieve their highest levels of performance by “doing their own thing.”

If our sales process is the representation of the collective best practices of winning business—and winning as effectively and efficiently as possible, great sales professionals should embrace the process. It just makes them more successful! If you don’t have a sales process that reflects current best practice, that helps your sales people win, then you are doing them a disservice. You aren’t helping them be as successful as possible–for themselves and for the company

From a management point of view, if we don’t have a sales process, if we let everyone do their own thing, we are presented with an unmanageable situation. It’s the functional equivalent of chaos. Our job as managers is to make sure our people are performing at the highest levels possible, and that they are achieving the goals we have established. Without a strong process, managing is impossible. In the absence of a strong process, to be confident the people are going to deliver on their commitments, you have to be involved in everything, you have to understand each deal. Without a strong sales process, as managers and leaders, we can’t perform at the highest levels possible.

The sales process is about producing results and achieving the highest levels of performance possible. As we finish up the current calendar year and are finalizing our plans for 2011, it is critical that management teams reassess their sales processes. It’s useful to ask yourselves:

  • Is it based on current market conditions and customer buying processes? The world has changed in the past few years. If your sales process hasn’t been updated, it probably isn’t serving you.
  • Is it based on our best experience in winning business as effectively and efficiently as possible? Do we see win rates increasing (or at least stable)? Sales cycles reducing (or at least not increasing)? Are we able to maintain or increase our profitability in each deal by having a sales process that creates value for the customer?
  • Do our people understand the selling process and how it enables them to win more, more effectively? Are they using it?
  • Do our managers incorporate the selling process whenever they do a deal review or pipeline review? Are they coaching the process at every opportunity?

To help you do this, I’ve developed afree eBook: The Sales Process and Sales Process Self Assessment. The eBook provides a collection of articles on developing, executing and managing the sales process. It also includes a self assessment-a tool you can use to assess the competitiveness of the sales process and your organization’s ability to execute the process. Hundreds have used these to tune and improve the performance of their organizations. Concurrent with the launch of the eBook, we are introducing the Sales Process Health Check. It leverages on the experience our clients have achieved in using the Self Assessment, but includes our expert analysis and recommendations on how the sales process and overall organizational performance can be improved.

Make sure you enter 2011 with your sales teams executing at the highest levels possible–take the time to inspect your sales process and make sure it is producing results for you!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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