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The Hidden Benefits of a Structured Sales Process

Dave Kurlan

Many readers loved my analogy comparing various types of shoes to the progress that companies have made around sales process. If you didnʼt read that article or donʼt remember it you can read it here. Readers found the short video comparing different sales processes to be very helpful. In todayʼs article, weʼll discuss the benefits of a formal, structured, milestone-centric sales process.

There are several obvious and some not so obvious benefits. Weʼll start with the obvious benefits:

Integration – a formal, structured sales process can be integrated into your CRM application, guiding, or in some cases, forcing salespeople to follow the process as they check off, justify or detail the completed steps. This not only makes your CRM application more valuable, but it provides much better information on your dashboard relative to conversion ratios, days in stage, and ideal sales cycles. One of the steps in the first stage of the process should be to “enter into CRM.”

Without the sales process integrated into your CRM application, many salespeople will wait until the opportunity is further along or even closable before entering the information. This leaves you with skewed data on your won opportunities and no data on your lost and dead opportunities.

Best Practice – a formal structured sales process is a time-tested and proven sales best practice. With all of the trial and error and seat of the pants selling that some organizations engage in, this will further professionalize the sales organization.

Faster Ramp Up – new salespeople will ramp up more quickly when you can include your companyʼs sales process as part of their ramp up and orientation. They wonʼt question it because they are new and will have every reason to follow it, embrace it, and use it successfully.

Shorter Sales Cycles and Higher Win Rates – when the process is followed, salespeople wonʼt be skipping steps and they will also be executing the previously missing steps. It is the skipped and missing steps which lead to longer sales cycles and lower win rates.

And the not so obvious benefits:

Coaching – sales process gives context to coaching because we can now include a common knowledge/language question like, “Where are we in the process? (stage/step)” Coaching can be much more comprehensive because it will be easier to coach to “How did we get here?” and “Why did that happen?” and “How can we prevent that from happening again?” and finally, “Now that we are here, how can we move there?”.

Skills – a sales process integrated into the CRM application will provide a lens into where opportunities lose traction and get stuck, leading to lost or dead opportunities. That lens will point to a specific stage or steps in the process where a skills gap and/or Sales DNA is the likely culprit, allowing you to provide targeted sales training.

Nothing is more important to a sales organizationʼs success than an appropriately designed and sequenced sales process. And as important as designed stages and milestones are, if the steps and stages are not properly sequenced so that the process builds on itself, it will be ineffective. That is why so many home-grown sales processes donʼt work and why salespeople stop following them.

The most recent data from Objective Management Group (OMG) shows the following relative to sales process adoption: 68% of all salespeople do not follow a sales process. 44% of salespeople with 3+ years in sales do not follow a sales
process.

This data suggests that either their companies did not have effective and/or efficient sales processes, or that these salespeople chose not to follow them. And why would they not follow a companyʼs sales process? There are only 3 possible reasons:

W. The process is not very good
X. Sales Management is not holding them accountable for following it
Y. They are know-it-alls and believe they know better than their company

Estos datos sugieren que sus compañías no tenían efectividad y / o procesos de ventas eficientes, o que estos vendedores decidieron no seguir ellos. ¿Y por qué no seguirían el proceso de ventas de una empresa? Ahí son solo 3 posibles razones:

W. El proceso no es muy bueno.
X. La gerencia de ventas no los responsabiliza por seguirlo
Y. Son sabelotodos y creen que saben mejor que su compañía.

Although these statistics are nothing short of awful, it is an improvement. The last time we looked at sales process adoption, 91% of all salespeople were not following a process so there has been a 75% improvement. What about your company? Here is a checklist to help you think about your structured sales process.

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Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best selling author, radio show host, successful entrepreneur and sales development industry pioneer. Dave is the founder and CEO of Objective Management Group, Inc. (OMG), the leader in sales candidate assessments and sales force evaluations, and named the Top Sales Assessment Tool for

2011-2015. He is also CEO of Kurlan & Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm specializing in sales force development, and named three times to the Inc 5000. He has written two books, including the best-seller Baseline Selling – How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball, and contributed to many others, including Stepping Stones, with co-authors Deepak Chopra and Jack Canfield.

His popular Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, was named the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for 2011-2015, and he was inducted into the Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame in 2012. Dave has also been named to the Top 50 Sales Influencers for 2012-2015.