article | November 18, 2012
How To Evaluate Your Sales Process for the New Year
This is lazy thinking. Adoption rate is a function of execution, not effectiveness. Execution means:
Meanwhile, you need a mechanism for evaluating your Sales Process effectiveness! Does it work to help you make the number? If not, should you buy a new one or develop a customized one? This article juxtaposes the cost of inertia against the benefits of changing course. It’s a simple framework to help you think. Considering the size of the opportunity, it should drive action. You can also click here to register for our Q3 Research Tour for more detail.
Is My Current Process Broken?
A successful Sales Process must produce three things:
Therefore, the key questions for the SVP of Sales are:
If any of these are headed in the wrong direction, evaluate your sales process. You might enlist the services of a sales process firm to help you evaluate. But be skeptical. Many are selling “their” process or methodology. If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
Any company selling sales processes will happily provide numbers. You’ll be peppered with statistics, references, and before and after examples. Use caution. Many times a new process appears to produce short term improvements. However, the reason may be that the new process replaced a process vacuum. Almost any process is better than nothing at all. Also, many “improvements” may turn out to be anecdotal…the effect of focus.
Off-The-Shelf v. Custom:
A lot of executives seem hesitant to even consider a custom sales process. However, there is one major challenge with any off-the-shelf process. It doesn’t match how your customers buy. Your customers are different. The relationship between Sales Process and the Buyer’s Journey is critical. You can read an earlier article about this relationship by clicking here. SBI believes that any decisions on sales process must include research. You must understand how your Buyers make a purchase decision.
For example, one client of ours has a large direct field sales force. It’s expensive, and results had been declining for years. The client’s response was to push harder on the team. SBI’s reviewed the sales process at the client’s request. We discovered each step was governed by a series of “rep actions.” For example, to exit the “Options” stage, a rep had to “deliver proposal to Prospect.” Why is this “Company-centric” approach a problem?
Because your Buyer does not care about you! They care about their problem, their process, their pain. In addition, the Buyer’s Journey now begins online, before a rep is present. The client’s sales process was misaligned. It only started when the rep called on the Buyer.
Here is an example of one step from a sample customized sales process:
Notice that the BUYER determines when the sale moves forward by completing an action. This is how Buyer research yields a process that can align with your Customer. This alignment will differentiate your reps from every other competitor determined to “sell” something.
Why don’t more companies develop custom sales processes mapped to their Buyer’s behavior? One executive recently gave me his perspective. “I’m not sure” he said, honestly. “It seems like it would take too long and cost too much money.”
This leads to the final consideration: expense. A custom built process can be much less expensive. Why? No on-going licensing costs. If you build your own process, you own it. Any changes to it are free. You can run as many reps as you want through it. With an off-the-shelf license model, each time a rep goes through it, the meter is running.
A Call to Action
Year-end is the time to look at this part of your business. Here are your considerations: Can you afford to ignore the possibilities? Who can get you more information? Can you fix this yourself? What are your options? How disruptive will it be to work on this? These are all valid concerns. If you want help thinking this through in a clear-headed way, call me. As you begin to attack the FY13 number, be sure your weapons work effectively.