All too often salespeople are told that in order to achieve their sales targets they need to network and build relationships, assist potential clients with decision making, or confirm joint commitments.
Encapsulating all of this is the sales process, which includes the tasks mentioned above. It will also incorporate what the Head of Sales deems is important to ensure everyone in the sales team knows what to do to drive sales. Sound familiar?
Despite being created to help your sales team succeed, there is a strong likelihood that your sales process is setting your salespeople up to fail before they even pick up the phone. Why? It’s usually because of these four common mistakes:
1. Your sales process is not developed with top performers in mind
Your sales process must reflect the behaviours and practices of your top performers. It is vitally important that they are involved in the development of your process. Not only does it ensure everyone is on the same page, it also greatly increases the chances that your best salespeople will actually follow the process—they helped create it after all!
If a sales process has too many steps or tasks to get from prospecting to closing, then it has little chance of being an effective tool for salespeople. It will be perceived as too confusing, or too difficult to follow, resulting in sales people cutting corners and skipping steps to get along the pipeline quicker.
An effective sales process needs to be memorable, logical, and simple to follow. The minute it becomes complicated, people become lost in the detail and lose sight of the big picture.
2. The process is entirely focused on the salesperson
A sales process is created for a sales team. It is a series of tasks that help a salesperson open, nurture and close a sale. Of course this all sounds logical, but unfortunately it is the wrong approach.
To have the best sales process is to focus on the customer themselves, and to understand how to create value for them. To do this, sales people must learn what the customer’s needs are, and ascertain how the right product and/or service will benefit them.
The best way to achieve this is to overlay a well executed sales process with the buyer journey in order to ensure both the needs of the salesperson and the customer are met.
3. There are no accountable metrics
A lot of sales processes seem to rely heavily on phrases such as “earn the relationship” or “identify opportunities to create value”—but what do these actually mean? And how can they be accurately measured?
For any salesperson to be successful, it is imperative that they can measure the outcomes of their tasks against metrics and goals. They should also have an appropriate focus on ‘money’ as, ultimately, this is how performance is typically measured in a sales team.
CEO of SalesStar Australia and New Zealand, Grant Holland, says that leading indicators are also particularly important for accountability.
“For example, if you know it takes 20 presentations to achieve a sale, then your leading indicator is ‘presentations’,” Grant says. “This means, you would be well advised to measure your sales person by the number of presentations that they do.”
But while it’s important for managers to hold their salespeople accountable, a major survey shared that, on average, they have only 65 per cent of the skills required to do this. The good news is that there are plenty of development opportunities to help sales managers hone these crucial skills.
4. A heavy reliance on generic training and products
Along with advances in technology comes plenty of tools readily available to aid organisations with their day-to-day tasks and processes, and the sales industry is no exception.
An abundance of “sales processes” come pre-packaged as sales training, or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, and there is no shortage of sales leaders who see these offerings as a solution to their sales issues.
However, these computer applications need to be implemented with a degree of caution. In the case of CRM software, companies often try to make their business fit to an operating system, instead of the other way around. Which is rather illogical seeing as every organisation has its own unique sales environment—how can a one-size-fits-all approach work with these generic training services and products?
We have done studies on why sales training does not work. They show that only 9 per cent of companies see behavioural changes after sales training. What’s more, 85 to 90 per cent of sales training has no lasting impact after three months. That’s why a different approach is needed.
At SalesStar, we believe that development doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom. Regular coaching calls, checkpoints, goal setting and holding your team accountable are very important parts of increasing sales.
If you’ve found any of these errors in your sales process, don’t despair. The good news is that you are aware of them and can now act to repair the situation.