One of the biggest challenges facing low performing sales organizations is the lack of a well thought out, widely adopted sales process. According to a recent study by CSO Insights, having an effective sales process was a greater determinate of company success than adoption of tools like CRM or Sales Intelligence. So the question is, why don't more companies spend time building effective processes? The short answer is, it's hard. There is the process, and the methodology and the challenges of gaining wide adoption. There is evidence however that the effort can take your organization from being inconsistent to being world class. Below are three reasons every sales leader should consider adopting a formal sales process.
Most of you reading this will agree that great companies are defined by sustained, consistent growth. Any organization can have a good month, or a good quarter, or even a good year. There were times when your product or the economy was so hot, that you would have to work to miss your revenue target. Those days are a thing of the past. Today, even in markets where demand seems high for a product or technology, differentiation is hard to establish and maintain. It could be argued that the competitive landscape is more difficult now than it's ever been. This is thanks in part to technology and access to affordable resources.The barriers to entry in many markets have been reduced to unprecedented levels. So the true advantage now comes in two forms, which would be people and processes. I would even argue that you need a process to make sure you are attracting and retaining your human capital.
2) Predictable, Scalable Revenue
The goal of any sales leader is to drive predictable, scalable revenue. Predictable and scalable would assume that there are repeatable processes that have consistent outcomes. It also assumes that, as the needs of your business grows, the process can support that growth with minimal disruption. This is not a new pursuit, it has always been the goal of sales leadership. What is different points back to how much the sales landscape has changed over the last 10 years. At one point, you could predict revenue growth by simply, hiring more sales people. The rules of business have changed and leaders have many more variables to consider. Even if you want to hire new sales people, should they be field sales or sales development reps? Without a process that is tied to an overarching methodology, these decisions become a shot in the dark. Every company is unique, the product or service, the target market and demographic information all should help define the people, activities and measurements. The key is, discover your process, implement it and be willing to adjust if things don't seem to be working.
3) Planning is fun
It would appear foolish to attempt any significant venture without first having a plan. Something as basic as planning a vacation or as seemingly impossible as planning for retirement, require having a plan. If you don't know where you are headed or how you are going to get there, success is impossible. Again I will point to the Sales Performance Optimization Study by CSO Insights. There were a number of metrics that were tracked. What jumped out most was the performance difference between companies that had at least a formal, adopted sales process versus companies that had either an informal or random process. Of all of the identifiers that separated top performing from low performing companies, sales process had the widest gap. This could reasonably lead to the conclusion that one of the single most important contributors to sales team performance, is a formal, widely adopted sales process. There was a 24% difference in companies that performed in the top 10% versus those in the bottom 30%. This is huge, and makes the planning process seem like we should make it a fun yearly exercise.
Not all sales processes are created equal. There isn't a one size fits all. Each company needs to assess where they are in their journey, take into account their market and most importantly their customers. Spend time going through some rigorous analysis and define a plan and process that is consistent with growth goals and company vision.