Many sales leaders think they’ve put a simple sales process in place, but they get frustrated when their reps don’t follow it. That’s because the sales processes leaders come up with are often not as clear, actionable, or repeatable as they’d hoped.
I’ll be the first to admit that. There have been many times during my career as a sales executive at Chorus and InsightSquared where I blamed reps for things that were really a result of my broken sales process.
“Why aren’t you filling in the CRM?!” I’d nag when I hadn’t taken the time to get the right feedback on new changes I’d just implemented.
“Why did we submit this proposal without getting it approved!?” I’d snap when I came across a non-standard deal even though I hadn’t clearly outlined our criteria for making exceptions to rules.
If so, use the following tips when building your sales process to ensure that your reps actually adopt it and help you improve it over time.
The best way to drive adoption for your sales process is to document it in a visual way and print out a laminated copy that reps can tape to their desk. One of my favorite examples of a documented sales process comes from Wildfire and includes the following information by stage:
- Key questions to ask the customer
- Activities the rep must complete
- Collateral that should be given to the customer
- Key gets that the customer should give your rep
This visual is so powerful because it reminds reps that a good sales process is mutually beneficial and that you both give things to customers and get things from them throughout.
Don’t Over-Engineer the Sales Process
The sales process should be simple. Research from InsideSales.com shows that Sales Reps only spend 37% of their time on revenue-generating activities. The sales process should include as few steps as possible. Reps should manage as much of it as possible from the CRM so that they are not moving between many documents and spreadsheets. Don’t make the sales process too cumbersome to adopt.
At Chorus we recommend using Conversation Intelligence to automatically record calls and import them into the CRM so critical steps like detailed and dynamic note-taking are never skipped.
Enforce it through structure
If the sales process is not enforced, it’s as good as dead. The best way to enforce the sales process is to automate a checklist of things that must be completed and information that must be entered into your CRM during various stages of your sales process before reps progress an op. Another way to ensure compliance is to have someone from your Sales Ops organization ensure that reps are following the appropriate process before moving a deal forward to the next stage.
It’s also really important that you align on exit criteria for the stages in your sales cycle so that a rep knows exactly what they are responsible for before progressing an opportunity through the funnel.
Build Sales Collateral
The sales process is only as good as the value it provides to your customers and reps. On average, 58% of the deals in your pipeline will stall. Why? Reps are unable to add valuable content tailored to each sales stage.
The goal of the sales process should be to make life easier for your customers and reps by allowing everyone to proactively get ahead of any potential objections or challenges.
Some key content you’ll want to create to support the sale process include:
- Discovery call script
- Company overview with case studies
- Educational white paper (e.g. why do this now)
- Best practices
- Business case
- Implementation guide
- Kick-off checklist & deck
Don’t Set It and Forget It
The sales process is never a set it and forget it. You need to constantly validate that it is working to reduce the time it takes to close a deal and assess gaps in the process. It is important to get direct feedback from your reps on where they are facing challenges in the sales process. That way, you can address them and evaluate your sales process using data, not your gut.
Make It Buyer vs. Seller-Centric
Often sales teams use seller-specific language when creating their sales process and stages. Things like “Demo Completed” or “Proposal Submitted” don’t do a good job of helping reps understand where the customer really is in the sales process. Instead, use customer-centric language for your stages and exit criteria that are focused on the buyer’s expectations and motions, not the sellers.
For instance, rather than listing “Procurement” as a stage that can often lead reps to get happy ears and list a prospect in this stage who has simply asked for pricing or a contract, use a stage like “Legal Redlining Contract.” This motion – that the prospect’s legal team is actively redlining the contract – is much clearer and buyer-driven than a stage like “procurement,” which is open to rep interpretation.
Use Sales Methodologies That Work
Not every sales methodology can be applied to your organization. For instance, BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) is not a great methodology to use if you are selling into a very early, disruptive market.
Be careful to select sales methodologies that make sense for the category you are selling into and continuously coach the team on them before you build them into your sales process. Reps need to see that the sales methodology you’ve adopted actually works for them.