Investing in a sales process is just the beginning. How you bring it to the field and make it stick is the end game. These institutional best practices extend sales process adoption in effective and efficient ways.
Critical Path Strategies has observed four attributes that are common among top-performing salespeople.This list is not inclusive of all the things great salespeople do, but it’s a pretty good start. Net-net, these people are prepared. They are action-oriented, asking relevant questions that encourage their clients to see a path forward and engage. The question: "What can we do to help all of our salespeople do these things better?"
Best Practices to Support Your Sales Process
Top-performing salespeople anticipate, based on industry and client knowledge, what issues their clients have on their plate. They also anticipate and prepare questions and possible objections that will arise along the way in their clients’ buying process. They are prepared for high-value conversations.
They rapidly assess their client’s landscape. They are inquisitive and ask great questions that direct the conversation towards jointly exploring alternatives.
They listen well. They demonstrate and validate that they understand. They paint a picture of success and correlate to a story.
They deliver a clear and compelling message and gain agreement to joint commitments to a common goal. They help their clients buy.
Knowledge not shared is knowledge wasted. This is how our clients help their salespeople learn from their top performers.
Design a sales process that aligns to the customer’s buying process. What does the seller want the customer to do, or agree to, at each stage of the process? As CPS says, "The knowledge you need is in the room." Unlock the organic knowledge of both your selling and non-selling teams and harness it using specialized tools that ensure an orderly collection and flow of information for all on your team. Articulate the best practices top performers demonstrate at each gate along the process to move the customer to the next step. These best practices ultimately define the steps of the sale.
Put a short list of some "must-do" review processes and rhythm in place. These help maintain momentum around sales activities. Regularly scheduled reviews—such as territory plans, account plans, and win plans—trigger improved sales force management by invoking accountability, assessing progress and performance against targets and commitments, and thanking and rewarding people for success.
“Brand” it. Many of our clients have engaged CPS to assist them in building a set of "sales plays" to run in a sales cycle. The plays are a set of reasons why people buy from them and how to execute to those reasons in the sales cycle. They tell them exactly what to do, how to do it, and how to counter if their opponent does something. They make their teams more efficient, highly targeted in their pitch and they’ve greatly assisted with on boarding of new reps and continued education.
Train the people to sell and manage "your" way. As one of our clients suggested, "If you focus on a few key ‘innovators’ within the sales team to pilot a new process, and they inevitably see success from that process, word gets out pretty quickly and soon all the reps want some of that ‘magic’ making the other reps successful."
Train the sales managers to coach—and to coach a lot. Coaching sales teams helps them establish goals to work toward, and at the same time, the discipline they need to work smarter. Using a sales process helps coaches affect certain activities and actions with greater efficiency, whether it’s redirecting salespeople to the best next actions, assessing current resources available for a particular sales initiative, or bringing new sales staff quickly into context.
Have a CRM system, but keep it simple. Creating and managing a sales process is a critical success factor in the consistent adoption of CRM. Map from sales lead to order. Once you under-stand your customers’ behaviors, you can define a process and technology to support their buying patterns.
Salespeople are opportunity-specific, just-in-time users. Gather the best selling-stage specific marketing collateral and sales support information your top performers use in their selling process and make it easy access.
Compelling success stories
Industry business drivers
Common objections and appropriate responses
Discovery questions by stakeholder
Messaging by stakeholder
A possible project plan framed from the customer’s internal buying perspective
Contact information for subject matter experts and others who can help
A sales process—and its support struts—is an effective way to replicate how your top performers achieve. It helps your salespeople know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it to maximize the chance of a successful close.