“Best-in-class companies are far more likely than their industry average or laggard counterparts to have a formal, well communicated, and broadly adopted sales process. And more than half of them had specific activities, steps, and tools to help reinforce the value as part of that sales process.” – ZS Associates “Value-Based Selling: Building a Best-in-Class Capability for Sales Effectiveness” study
Having a simple, well-defined sales process is key to successfully managing your salespeople and your sales pipeline.
The starting point for designing any sales process should be an understanding of your target customer’s buying process (your target customer should already be defined by your Go-To-Market strategy). Today’s customer is a very informed and savvy one – the Internet and social media have tilted the balance firmly in their favor. As a consequence, it is incumbent on sellers to ensure that they engage with target customers in the way they want to be engaged with and that your sales process reflects this.
Secondly, each stage of your sales process should be defined by validated actions on behalf of your target buyer and not by the perceptions or interpretations of your salespeople. For example, there is a big difference between your target customer actually confirming that they have the funds or budget allocated to pay for the product or service and a salesperson “deducing” that the funds will be available because of the importance the customer is placing on the initiative during their interactions.
Thirdly, your sales process should be kept relatively simple — with only as many stages as you need to demarcate significant movement in an opportunity. Overly complex sales processes are more likely to result in opportunities sitting inconsistently in different stages due to the stages lacking clear definition and pipelines being over-inflated.
Finally, you should always bear in mind that you should never look upon a sales process as set in stone and only updated infrequently. Quite the contrary. A sales process, as outlined above, should be driven by your customer’s buying process and habits. Given that these are evolving and changing with greater frequency than ever, you should be constantly validating your sales process and tweaking as necessary. Such customer-alignment will pay huge dividends over time and keep you ahead of many of your competitors.
Editor’s Note: Based on expert opinions like that of John Golden and many others, Pipeliner CRM has been built to make using and adjusting the sales process intuitive, organized, and efficient. The sales pipeline is the heart of your revenue stream, and we believe it is one of the most important parts of your Sales CRM tool. We also focus on sales activity management — Pipeliner CRM is a system that uses the sales stages to guide salespeople and managers seamlessly to do the most important tasks to achieve their goals. Because we’re built by salespeople for salespeople, we hope you’ll check out Pipeliner CRM with a free 14-day, no strings trial. Remember, we’re here to help.
We invite you to read more of John Golden’s thoughts about the sales process. His book, Find Social Upheaval and Winning the Battle for Sales in our Reference Library. Visit the Pipeliner CRM Reference Library to see what might help you in your work!