Five Must-Haves for Every Sales Process
Categories: Sales Coaching Tools
Efficiency and alignment are critical elements of sales productivity. An effective sales process provides a vehicle to enforce discipline, repeatability, predictability and validation of progress throughout a sale. Most importantly, it allows for inspection and planning – in advance.
Part of the beauty of a revenue-driving sales process is its simplicity. Ensure your sales process provides the rigor and support that sales teams need to accurately predict their numbers. Here are five must-haves for every great sales process.
1. Alignment With Your Customer's Buying Process
Companies that drive predictable revenue and nearly 100% forecast accuracy likely have a revenue-driving sales process that’s driven by their buyer. In these organizations, sellers stay in sync with the way their customers want to buy, meaning reps help their prospects navigate their decisions process, versus forcing their sales process onto that prospect. As a result, salespeople aren’t getting stuck in deals they don’t belong in, leadership can see where deals truly stand on any given day, and business predictability is easier to maintain.
Guiding a buyer through their own decision process helps that buyer see your salesperson as a strategic consultant, versus just another seller trying to sell them something. Remember, there's as much differentiation in how a salesperson sells, as there is in what they sell.
Use these questions to assess buyer alignment in your sales process:
- Is there a firm understanding of how customers purchase solutions? If not, is developing this understanding a top priority for you and your enablement team?
- Is your sales team provided with buyer-centric content, activities, and tools they can leverage to ensure synchronicity as they qualify and progress their deals?
- Are there specified outcomes that sellers can use to indicate whether the buyer is moving forward in their decision process, or are sellers left to their own judgment?
- Are salespeople driven by the actions their customers take along their buying process or are they moving deals forward with clear gaps in customer knowledge?
- Is the sales team qualifying opportunities in and out based on buyer indicators, or are they getting stuck in deals they don’t belong in?
- Are managers equipped to support reps in dissecting deals to ensure consistent execution and qualification, or are unqualified deals present in the pipeline?
2. A Focus on Customer Verifiable Outcomes
Is there clarity in your organization around what customer verifiable outcomes (CVOs), by sales stage, define when a deal should move forward? CVOs are buying indicators that help provide your salespeople with the necessary information to advance an opportunity to the next stage of the buying process.
Customer verifiable outcomes build qualification into the sales process and allow sellers to qualify opportunities based on what the customer is doing at a particular buying stage. Remember, it’s the customer that drives the sales process, not the rep. If your reps don’t focus on staying in sync with the customer and reading their buying signs, they greatly increase the probability of losing the deal.
When the entire customer-facing organization has agreement on specific customer verifiable outcomes, everyone understands what buyer actions and decisions need to be captured during the sales process as they progress and qualify opportunities. Clarity around CVOs can significantly improve a salesperson’s ability to qualify the highest-value opportunities and avoid wasting time in deals they don’t belong in. When companies have a common language around CVOs and how they impact the sales process, they can drive significant improvements to forecast accuracy and pipeline health.
3. Alignment Between Specified Sales Stages and How They're Forecasted
Build alignment between each sales stage and how they impact the forecast.
Customize your forecasting categories by aligning them to the specific sales activities and customer verifiable outcomes that should occur in each particular stage. Generating this cross-functional agreement on forecasting categories and what takes place in each stage, helps to ensure that sales stages are aligned with the buyer. With this customization and attention to detail, your sales teams will build accurate revenue forecasts and improve leadership's visibility into business revenues.
When aligning sales and forecasting stages, a great amount of detail goes into identifying and mapping customer verifiable outcomes to sales activities. This detail helps to ensure the refined sales process accurately connects buyer actions and seller actions to the correct sales stage and forecasting categories. Structuring the sales process in this way builds confidence in the forecast. This alignment provides a clear understanding of how to qualify a deal (by CVO) and what seller actions are required to move that opportunity to the next forecasting stage.
4. Equips Managers to Drive Accountability and Accuracy
Your managers play a critical role in driving accountability around your sales process. They're responsible for coaching their salespeople on how to progress deals correctly and efficiently. Are your managers ensuring their salespeople's current deals are in the correct sales stage and helping them move them forward accurately?
If your sales process supports your manager's ability to drive accountability, the evidence will be present in their actions. Here are a few examples:
- Managers will consistently ensure reps follow the identified sales processes and activities to dissect, qualify and forecast their deals.
- Managers will dissect deals with reps regularly to ensure they are in the correct sales stage.
- Managers will leverage their tools and CRM systems to inspect deals and prepare coaching plans that dive into these deals, versus staying at a high level.
- Managers will use opportunity reviews to help reps understand how to make an impact in the progression of their deal, rather than simply running through a compliance checklist.
Elite sales leaders empower managers to coach and collaborate. They put a focus on incorporating the above activities into their sales process, to ensure they aren’t skipped over.
We’ve seen firsthand the results organizations can achieve when their sales process supports their front-line managers in driving accountability. You own this job. Help your sales managers create discipline around forecasting. Use this guide, it covers ways to coach your managers and provide them with the tools and resources to make an impact on front-line results.
5. A Qualification Criteria That's Consistently Enforced
As you work to develop a clear and predictable sales process, discussions on qualification criteria will likely take up a majority of your conversations.
Simply following a sales process doesn’t guarantee that your reps will close the deal. Your reps have to continuously qualify the opportunity throughout the sales process to ensure that the opportunity warrants their investment of time and resources. Qualification is critical because it ensures reps are spending the right time on the right opportunities and not wasting time on ones that won't happen.
While there are various qualification methodologies out there, MEDDICC has become an increasingly popular tool that many companies are using to qualify the highest possible accounts and improve business predictability. For these reasons, you may be considering MEDDICC (or its variants) or have already implemented it into your sales organization's qualification toolbox. Understand what successful leaders focus on to maximize the business impacts of MEDDICC and ensure predictable revenue growth.
What Works: See How Leaders Improve Sales Qualification
A strong qualification approach is a critical component of any successful sales process. Building a custom and well-executed sales qualification approach will be key to driving accurate forecasts and sales growth. What are sales leaders doing to improve business predictability, deal velocity and win rates?
See how you can build a strong sales process and a company culture that supports it. Use this guide.