How important is it for a company to have an know its sales process? It’s not just important—it’s crucial to sales coordination, management and company expansion.
A company’s sales process is the precise series of steps through which a sale passes, from prospect through to close. A sales process could also be referred to as a “pipeline” through which all your sales run. For example, one B2B software company uses a fairly common sales pipeline model of lead, demo, proposal, and close as individuals steps, and each of these steps are monitored.
The Salesperson View
While a salesperson very familiar with a company’s product or service may be able to operate without established pipeline management, it is doubtful anyone else will. A
new sales rep coming on board may have all the selling skill in the world, but without knowing the various stages a sales passes through for that company, he or she could be flying blind and miss vital steps. For example, it may be a highly successful element within a particular car dealership for potential customers to take a test drive—but the newer sales rep on the floor doesn’t know that and keeps failing to close. Or the key to the sale of a certain anti-virus tool is having prospects download and run trialware, but since this isn’t noted in training materials or anywhere else, a rep misses it and obtains few to no sales.
With an established sales process, that car dealership would make it far easier for salespeople to sell. They are trained up front so they know automatically what the various stages are: short showroom briefing, test drive, isolating specific wants for that customer, customer qualifying, close, talking price, adding service contract, financing approval, delivery.
Proper pipeline management also makes it possible for a salesperson to predict his or her sales figures in the coming week or month. Using the example of the anti-virus company, the number of trialware downloads can be used to predict the potential sales.
Additionally, an established sales process means a sales force that works as a team, all moving in the same direction.
Without an established sales process, management cannot control yet alone predic. Simply having a dollar amount of closed sales for the last month doesn’t at all forecast what will happen in the following month. But establishing then paying attention to the various stages of a sales pipeline, the sales manager can monitor and push the various stages—and most importantly be able to predict how each sales rep, and the sales department as a whole, is going to end up at the end of the month.
Establish Your Sales Process
Do you know your sales pipeline? Many companies do, but many others do not. Establishment of the pipeline steps is simple—but it must be done. One method is to sit down off peak production hours with your top sales reps, and have them walk through the sales process they use. You will find that after some discussion there will be a ready agreement on what these steps are. The established sales process can then be put into training materials, and automated so that individual steps are never missed.
It may be discovered through use that an established pipeline is too simple or too complex. Rather than stick to a rigid model, it is highly advisable to be ready to modify pipeline management when needed. In this way a pipeline always closely reflects the real-world way that sales are made.
Knowing, sharing and most of all using your sales process is key to the success of any company. You’ll find that simply establishing the sales process itself will bring sanity and coordination to your salespeople—and raise their willingness as well.