sales process stages


As a sales leader, your quota will likely increase by an average of 12% next year. Since the economy is not expected to expand that much, you should already be concerned about making your number for 2012. Your organization needs to become more effective – yielding more opportunities at the top of the funnel that can be refined into orders by your sales team. Most of the raw materials for your sales process should come from Marketing, so the more they understand about your sales process, the better chance they have to provide a steady input of quality leads.


Consider these facts:


  • World-class sale organizations cite Marketing-generated leads as the source for 61% of their order revenue. Effective demand generation and lead management feed the opportunity-converting engine, the sales process.
  • A recent report by Aberdeen Research shows that 74% of best-in-class sales organizations map their stage-gated selling process to the customer’s buying process. In the world of Sales 2.0 we understand that the customer’s buying process usually starts before the initial contact by a salesperson. The mapping is incomplete if it only includes the activities of the Sales organization.


How important is tight integration? In one large B2B Sales organization, we were not surprised to find the gulf that commonly exists between a headquarters-based Marketing organization and field-based operation. In this case, the process for generating and passing leads to Sales was streamlined and timely but the quality was so poor that the net effect was negative. Sales wasted valuable customer-facing time qualifying and ultimately rejecting invalid leads. Sales could actually improve its results by ignoring the leads generated by Marketing.


What 5 things does Marketing need to know to help you achieve your 2012 number?


1. Ideal Customer Profile

Start on the same page together. Make sure that the ICP being targeted by your demand generation and lead management systems identifies the same person that the Sales organization needs to engage.


2. Mapping the Stages in the Customer Buying Process & Sales Process

The generic Buying/Selling Process in the diagram above is not representative of your unique circumstances. Take the time to map your process from end-to-end and ensure that the handoff is smooth and consistent.


 3. Win-Loss Analysis

Use your own data and experience to understand the dynamics of a successful sales cycle. World-class Sales organizations routinely study their wins and losses. Take it to the next level and engage your Marketing partners in the exercise.  Their insight will provide new perspectives that benefit everyone.


4. Recycling and Nurturing Leads

The proper handoff of a lead from Marketing to Sales is essential to the conversion of raw material to finished goods. Equally important is the handoff in the reverse direction. Some customers are not ready to engage with Sales and require further nurturing to become a Sales Qualified Lead.


5. Sharing Compensation Information

What is the single most significant influence on the behavior of the individual salesperson? Compensation, of course. The Marketing organization needs this critical piece of knowledge in order to maximize their impact on the selling process. Very often, the compensation plans are confidential, and year-over-year changes make them unfathomable at first glance. Take the time to translate your compensation plan(s) into a brief summary that can be easily consumed by your Marketing partners. Sharing this information will foster a cleaner hand-off and drive improved results.


Call to action: Schedule time now to host an off-site workshop with Marketing in early 2012. The starting point for your agenda is the 5 topics listed above and you can get additional ideas by clicking on the link to sign up for the research tour on Sales Strategy for 2012. Encourage Marketing to add their own agenda items to make the conversation mutual. A word to the wise: don’t get bogged down in re-hashing old arguments and grievances. This is a chance for a fresh start.


tour-square-buttonLet me know of any other agenda topics you would include in your workshop. I am eager to hear your ideas. The effectiveness of your sales process depends on the coordinated efforts of everyone in your organization.


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