Regulation vs. laissez-faire.
Further discussion revealed that each sales manager had taken a different approach towards overseeing the execution of the sales process in their territory. Some had been focused on strict compliance, while others had seen the sales process as a mere guide, to be used or not on a case by case basis. Sales managers also varied in the frequency with which they monitored use of the sales process. The managers who tended towards compliance used technology and personal auditing to measure the rate of sales process adoption. The sales managers who used a more laissez-faire approach tended more towards focusing on results (i.e. they allowed sales reps who posted good numbers use whatever parts of the sales process they sought fit while those sales reps who were behind on their numbers received more scrutiny on their use of the sales process)
The Sales Process Inspection Continuum. Below is a list of the full range of approaches available to inspect sales process adoption. They can be used in one combination or another. Further, their effectiveness often depends on the maturity of process and the degree to which sales Job Aids have been automated.
- Compliance-based Oversight. To enforce sales process compliance, a company must be convinced that every deal its sales reps chase is essentially the same – same solution, same sales cycle, same business needs, same deal size, and so on. Brent Adamson makes this very point in this article “Sales Process Compliance: Too Much of a Good Thing?” Bottom line – If there is a variety in the transaction, there should be flexibility in the sales process.
- Frequent Engagement. This is for those sales managers who do a lot of ridealongs and value face-to-face interaction with their reps.
- Random Auditing. For those sales managers who have to oversee many reps or who have large geographic territories. There are even vendors, such as OpenSpan, who offer software solutions that help track sales process usage with a technique called “People Metrics”.
- Periodic Review. for those sales managers who schedule regular deal reviews and need to understand all aspects of a transaction
- Failure-based Inspection. For those sales managers who go to the sales process only after a deal has been lost
The right sales process oversight cadence for the Sales Manager.
Sales managers should lead from the front by following the sales process themselves (e.g. reading the Call Plan ahead of time) and by the doing the following:
- Bring up aspects of the sales process on a daily basis in the conversations, ride-alongs, e-mails, and other communication their have with their rep
- Use the sales process to perform deal reviews, however frequently this occurs
- Use the sales process to assess after a Win or Loss or No Decision to determine if the sales process played a role (negative or positive) in the transaction
- Conduct random spot checks of sales process usage and/or tool adoption
- Use the CRM system on a weekly basis to spot outlier sales Opportunities (e.g. a deal that is ‘stuck’ too long in one phase of the sales process)
- Conduct at least monthly training in use of the sales process and to highlight ‘wins’
- Use the sales process as a part of talent development conversations with sales reps, especially those ‘B’ and ‘C’ players who need to improve their performance
- Provide recommendations at least quarterly to management on improvements to the sales process
The right sales process oversight cadence for the VP of Sales.
Sales executives should let the sales managers handle the regular cadence on the sales process as their role is to promote its overall use and support the sales managers. In their forecast and pipelines reviews with the sales managers, executives should ensure they are comfortable with the sales process phases and the success probabilities.