World-Class Sales Processes & Methodologies – Insights into How to Achieve Sales Process Excellence

 

World-Class Sales Process

World-Class Sales Process

What you will quickly learn in this blog article:

  • The value and ROI of having a world-class sales process.

  • The top 10 benefits to having a clearly articulated sales process and associated methodology.

  • The specific components & elements within each detailed sales process that enables the sales team to maximize their effectiveness.

  • Sample sales metrics that should be collected as part of an overall sales process.

  • How a sales process helps align corporate communications and actions toward winning each and every sale.

  • How to infuse sales best practices right into your sales process at every stage of the sales cycle.

  • How to ensure all levels of the sales teams actions are coordinated in terms of communications, hand-offs, approvals, sales readiness, etc.

  • How a leading practices sales process will actually ensure that you deliver an optimum customer experience where customers will buy more and become loyal.

  • How a best practice based sales methodology will ensure your sales team is fully accountable for results and for the sales funnel.

  • Why a sales process can make it easier to on-board, train and retain a high performing sales team.

  • What critical sales process steps you can be automated once the sales process is fully developed and why sales automation alone (out of the box) won’t deliver sales process excellence.

  • How you can leverage artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) to offload mundane, lower value tasks from the sales team.

  • Proven and effective sales best practices I have diffused at various Fortune 500 company clients.

 

B) The Top 10 Reasons Developing & Maintaining a World-Class Sales Process is valuable for you and your company:

  1. Holds Sales Team Staff and Management Accountable

By having performance measures and toll gates baked right into the overall sales process, you can hold team members accountable for reaching select performance levels at each phase of the sales process

 

  1. Provides a clear & proven path for sales reps to close deals.

By having clearly defined best practice based steps and milestones that guide sales team members, from prospecting to proposal presentation, your company can avoid losing sales deals due to disorganization.

  1. Increases sales organization collaboration & synergy

World-class sales processes contain within them the definition of your entire sales communication process including the roles of each department supporting the sales process. This feature of the sales process definition ensures everyone is on the same page and collaborating and communicating at each critical juncture of the sales process to ensure the sale is won.

  1. Enables more efficient and effective on-boarding of new sales members

A standardized sales process makes training sales reps fast, simple, and nearly foolproof, by showing salespeople what they need to do in various sales situations without having to tie up the sales manager in the (re) training process. In addition, when the entire sales team is following the same road-map, any member of the existing sales team can pass on their knowledge and guidance to new hires.

 

  1. Provides the ability to constantly improve sales processes and methods.

Successful sales teams continuously refine their sales processes based on the collection of measurable data and constant feedback that will be built right into any world-class sales process. For example, understanding where most of your sales deals are getting bogged down or lost can help you identify the root cause of why those deals were stalled or lost and take steps to re-engineer the sales process. Without a process in place, deals are simply won or lost, and it’s hard to know which specific actions are succeeding or failing.

  1. Delivers better forecasting with higher predictability of sales and revenue.

A repeatable sales process provides sales teams with greater consistency in winning deals. Having a more accurate sense of your overall sales win rate enables your company to dependably forecast how many sales you’ll close from a given number of leads, and helps sales managers set realistic team member sales quotas.

  1. Drives more qualified leads, increased lifetime value, revenue and profitability

A well honed sales process also enables your sales team to be more effective at filtering out low-potential leads and identifying prospects that are most likely to purchase your product. Generating greater volumes of higher-quality leads shortens your sales cycle and reduces the effort wasted on lower probability sales deals.  This also ensures that your sales team focuses its efforts on the activities that deliver the most revenue and the highest levels of profitability.

  1. Enables improved communication between sales and supporting teams.

By having your sales team speaking a common company language (vs. sales specific) it can enable better collaboration among sales team members and with supporting company departments. A standardized best practice sales process contains common steps and common language that delivers simplified inter-company communication, reduces inter-departmental confusion, and enables your accounting, customer service, fulfillment, and marketing teams to provide the right sales actions and content at the right time. The following chart is an example of developing a framework for how various sales team members communicate, share and update information, etc.

Sales Organization Roles, Responsibilities, Communications

Sales Organization Roles, Responsibilities, Communications

 

         9. Provides greater measurement of sales team performance

When a sales team has no standardized sales process to follow, it is difficult to measure anything except for wins and losses. A standardized sales process has built into it more data measurement points at each phase of the sales process, allowing for deeper analysis of key sales performance metrics and targets.

        10. Delivers a better overall customer experience.

When a sales representative pressures a prospect into a sales stage they are not comfortable with, it can create mistrust, which can negate the sale and damage the relationship with the buyer. A standardized sales process ensures that sales team members and managers do not advance the sale until the prospect is ready to move forward.  A best practice sales process also is designed to reflect how each prospect (customized via prospect analytics and profiling) would want to move through the buying process, and making sure each step is designed (customized) to generate maximum trust and value. In this manner the sales process enables sales teams to deliver an optimum and positive customer experience during each sales phase.

 

C) Global Sales Major Process Definition

World-Class Sales Process Framework

World-Class Sales Process Framework

The above is a sanitized version of the highest level sales process architecture I developed for a global consumer products company. This “level 1” foundation sales process architecture depicts the major processes and supporting processes for the overall company sales process. Each of these major process modules will each be further broken down in detail until the actual process steps, procedures and policies are of sufficient detail that they can be clearly followed by all sales stakeholders (sales manages, sales team members, departments supporting the sales team, senior management, etc.).

Level 2 Process Flow, Sales Planning & Forecasting

Level 2 Process Flow, Sales Planning & Forecasting

D) Sales Process Detailed Definition – Responsibilities and Major Processes

Breaking down the major 1.0 level sales process, we flow into the next level of detail for the S.1.0 process which is “Planning and Forecasting” for sales.

Level 2 / 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Level 2 / 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Within the “Planning and Forecasting” module we depicted the major coordination and communications that occur with this Level 2 process. The horizontal subdivisions (a.k.a. swim lanes) shows a high level breakdown of responsibilities within the sales organization and between the various functions, regions, etc.   This was important for this client since it mapped out who did what and at what level to end up with either a new or revised sales forecast.

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

E) Sales Process Detailed Definition – Steps, Decision Support, KPIs, Best Practices, Key Metrics

Using the “Updated Forecast” process as an example, we then show the level 3 detail of this sales process.

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast

As shown above, typically a level 3 or 4 process flow contains the sales process detail for it to be actionable by the sales team and supporting team (accounting, IT, fulfillment, product management, customer service, etc.).

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast : Specific Elements

Level 3 Sales Process, Update Sales Forecast : Specific Elements Detailed

F) Detailed Sales Process – Definition of each step & components:

Let’s examine each of the 4 major elements of this level 3.0 process flow titled “Update Forecast”.

The first element we examine is the flow from another detailed process step,  “Review Period to Date Results”,  that has a number of inputs that into this process step “Update Forecast” at the Division level that include (sample) the following sales period to date information:

  • Projected sales volume vs. actual results

  • Sales representatives goals vs. actual results

  • # of closed sales deals and at risk-deals vs. planned

  • Profitability per deal vs. target

  • Total revenue and profit for all cumulative sales deals vs. target

Sales Process Step 1 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast
Sales Process Step 1 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

The 1st process element we examine is the examination and decision based on actual vs. planned period to date sales KPIs as follows:

  • Are we maintaining an upward linear growth rate as planned

  • Previous year same month sales vs. current month

  • Overall sales generated sales velocity ($$ per day, week, month) deltas

Sales Process Step 2 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 2 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If key sales planned period to date KPIs are at risk based on a certain threshold, we move to the 2nd element where we update a number of pre-determined KPIs that are critical to ensuring we have an accurate sales forecast. In this sample, my client decided that these are as follows (sample):

  • Sales targets

  • Key sales assumptions (totals and per deal)

  • Sales benchmarks (top performance vs. average vs. lagging)

  • Sales process (i.e. adjust at-risk deal processes to match on the ground situations for each deal)

  • Sales team accountability plans (adjust according to 1-4 above).

Sales Process Step 2A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 2A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If they are not at major risk, we might update a few smaller parameters and then move onto process step 2A.

Sales Process Step 3 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 3 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

The 3rd process element we examine is the examination and decision based on sales project results for period end KPIs as follows (sample):

  • Are lead flow projected rates at previously forecast levels?

  • Are the numbers of late stage sales deals on track to close in the period end (monthly for my client)?

  • Based on the deals closing in #2 above, does the aggregate revenue for those deals match the projected forecast for period end?

  • Specific to this process step, we have an embedded best practice “BP”. This best practice details that if pipeline coverage of sales representatives drops below 85%, an automated process (with its own set of best practice procedures), kicks off titled “Recovery Plan S.1.0” that will return coverage of pipeline to 100%.

Sales Process Step 4 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 4 Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If key sales project results for period end KPIs are at risk based on a certain threshold, we move to the 4th element where we simply update the key sales projections and KPIs based on investigating and validating actual sales actions, feedback, roadblocks, prospect and customer actions, etc. These include (small sample of actual client metrics) the following:

  1. At-risk deals (#’s, specific names, assigned representatives, etc.)

  2. Top deal watch list (revenue and margin #’s, names/clients, roadblocks, action plan status, etc.)

  3. Low sales performer watch list (names, action plans, mentor-ships, etc.)

Sales Process Step 4A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step 4A Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

If there are no major risks, we might update a few smaller parameters and then move onto process step 4A where we simply exit this process and enter another downstream process. 

Sales Process Step G (Global Process Best Practices) Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

Sales Process Step G (Global Process Best Practices) Detailed, Update Sales Forecast

A global element in this update forecast process is the embedded best practices that have been developed as a result of evolving the sales process continuously. These include (small sample):

  • Flagging the top 5 (based on revenue, important to company) at-risk sales deals.

  • Performing a weekly review of at-risk sales deals and coming up with an action plan for each, taking into account any sales process changes made above in element 3, step 4).

  • Updating the following metrics, key for sales management visibility:

  1. Number of at-risk deals weekly, monthly, YOY, etc.

  2. The success ratio of closed top deals vs. top deals lost.

  3. Average sales cycle duration & actual sales representative time spent selling.

Other Key sales metrics for the overall sales process to consider:

  1. Overall sales win rate.

  2. Average deal size.

  3. Lead average follow-up time. (The time a lead is received until a sale representative follows-up)

  4. Sales by lead source (important marketing to sales metric).

  5. Quota achievement % total and by sales representative.

  6. Based on a-c (and more) above, what are the action plans and automated workflows that need to be created to enact updated performance plan metrics?

 G) Sales Process Automation:

There is a huge difference between sales automation and sales process automation. Just because you purchased leading tools like Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, Zoho, etc. does not mean it will conform or deliver a highly automated sales process right out of the box. These tools can be customized to accommodate the automation of your sales process, but will take additional $$, effort and potentially additional licenses that you may not have accounted for in the initial expenditure of funds and resources. This step is as important as purchasing the package since without easy to use functionality and processes that aid the sales effort, the tool will be considered more of a hindrance that a help.

You will also need to automate your sales process via a number of other supporting tools that salesforce automation software packages are not optimized for out of the box such as the following:

  • E-mail process automation like triggered responses to new lead inquiries or automated bots on the website to interact and respond to simple initial inquiries.

  • Report generation being triggered based on system parameters, timing and critical thresholds being reached. Add on packages like Adobe, Tableau, Microstrategy, Oracle BI, SAS, Sisense, etc. all are great packages that can be added to bring additional horsepower to your sales analytics and reporting capabilities.

  • Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) can aid in the performance of sales tasks such as lead distribution, auto-populating CRM systems via intelligent voice capture and data mining following a phone sales call.

  • Pipeline & Order Management – tools like Vendasta can help automate the management of your pipeline and order management.

H) Other Sales Best Practices to Kick Your Sales Volume & Success into Overdrive:

While these are not related to the above sales process per say, I have included these as they are sales related and **some** clients choose to implement these practices, processes:

  • Analyze sales rainmaker activities & behavior and then replicate their best practices back into the overall sales process, training, activities, sales approaches. In this manner good sales reps move up to rainmaker performance, average sales reps move up to good performance, etc. I did this for a major U.S. insurance company a few years ago and it improved their overall sales performance by 32%!

  • Develop a referral incentive system with your existing customers as existing customer referrals are likely to close 50+% of the time, with strong personal referrals with testimonials likely to close at 80+%. Compare this to warm leads at <30% and cool leads at <15%. I did this as the SVP of Operations at a startup and it catapulted our sales from <$1m to over $3m in just 8 months.

  • Develop a network of complimentary re-sellers (a.k.a. channel sellers) of your services where the products and/or services you sell are complimentary to the re-sellers normal line business. For example, a firm that sells cultural improvement and/or leadership development services should be seeking out an HR consulting firm to resell their services since the HR firm is uncovering these needs on a regular basis with generally nowhere to turn for servicing unearthed client needs. The HR consulting firm would then net a commission (5-10%) for merely opening the door to the new sales opportunity for the leadership development firm. Analogous to this on the web is affiliate sales and marketing. 

  • Invite satisfied customers to participate in the brand: guest blogger, posting testimonials, reviewing new concepts, products and/or services, participating on a Customer Advisory Board (e.g. top customers), etc. Studies have shown that the more they are invited to participate in the brand’s success, the more likely they are to share your brand’s success.

  • Let your existing customers know about your sales wins: The more your customers see you succeed and the strides your are making in the marketplace, the more likely they are to share these positive news stories. Examples: xyz company is winning contracts left and right, they must be doing something right, xyz is on fire, xyz services are selling like hotcakes, etc.

Related to the above topic, does your organization need consulting assistance developing and implementing a world-class sales process or any of the following: associated services?

  • Replicating the processes and behavior of your sales rainmakers to the rest of the sales team?

  • Infusing a set of sales cross-industry leading practices in your existing sales process?

  • Developing a best practice sales measurement and metric system?

  • Automating the sales process to offload the non-value sales tasks from your sales team so they can focus on meeting with prospects/customers and closing deals?

  • Investigate how to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to sharpen your sales insights, targeting, lead generation flow, etc.?

If so, give me a call, I call help you implement sales process excellence that will  enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization to the next level of sales performance and revenue.

Lastly, this is just one article of nearly 50 total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 120,000+ world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

Sales Influencer (Power) Mapping

How to Win Key Strategic Sales Deals through Client Relationship Analysis, Management and Improvement – in 5 Easy Steps !

Illustrative of the 5 Step to Power Mapping (Ilustrative - Covered Below}
Illustrative of the 5 Step to Power Mapping (Ilustrative – Covered Below}

Analysis and Management of the key decision makers and influencers in any strategic and long-term sale is crucial for success and for obtaining that BIG SALES CONTRACT WIN. This type of analysis of multi-million dollar & strategic sales deals is a common practice of the top revenue generating firms throughout the world including Accenture, IBM, PricewatehouseCoopers, McKinsey, General Electric, Deliotte, KPMG, etc.  Through this proven sales analysis technique called Sales Influencer Mapping or Power mapping, you can quickly ascertain the following:

  1. How likely you are to win the deal based on the status of your relationships with the various client company team members?
  2. Who at your client company are for or against you and your firm winning this sale?
  3. Who from your client company has a pre-existing positive or negative perception of your company?
  4. What is the nature of your relationship with all of the key decision makers and influencers that must approve and/or condone this sale to your firm?

{Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}:

Map Key Client Sales Team
Step #1 – Map Key Client Sales Team
Step #1 Legend
Step #1 Legend

Directly related to the last bullet (#4) above, the first and key step to influencer mapping for longer-term strategic sales is determining the sales influencer landscape as follows:

  1. Who is the economic buyer(s) that has an allocated budget for the item you are selling and who will ultimately make the final decision for the sale? It is the economic buyer’s budget that will fund your sale of your product/service.
  2. Who are the decision maker(s) who the economic buyer must get to concur (sign-off) that they are selecting the right firm, solution, products for this sale? Decision makers are the people who are putting their reputations and careers on the line for selecting you and your firm for this sale.
  3. Who are the key influencer(s) that will influence the opinions and impressions of your company with both the economic buyer and the decision makers? It is the key influencer(s) who can help or hurt the chances of your sale with the economic buyer(s) and the decision makers.

Take Chart #1 below that represents a strategic sale of over $1.2MM to a potential pharmaceutical client. Our strategic sales team consisted of four of us attempting to sell a strategic roadmap for our client to enable an enhanced direct to consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical marketing model.

{Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}:

Map Key Client Sales Team
Step #1 – Map Key Client Sales Team
Step #1 Legend
Step #1 Legend

In step one, we carefully analyzed the client company organization and quickly determined that Dan Danilla, as VP of Customer Management, was the Economic Buyer for this sale and had adequate allocated budget to actually buy our services. You will notice the “E” noted below his name in box #1 for Economic buyer per the above power mapping legend.

Gary West was determined to be responsible for the project’s delivery and success, so he was labeled at the Decision Maker “D” in box #1 below his name/organizational box.

Russ Porter was determined as being one of the signatories of the contract, so he is marked with an “A” for being a contract Approver in box #1 below his name/organizational box.

Lastly, since Matt Gandy has a great social relationship with both Dan Danilla (Economic Buyer) and Gary West and is often called for professional advice by both, we marked him as a key influencer for this sales deal with an “I” in box #1 below his name/organizational box.

Chart #2 represents Step #2 in Sales Power Mapping {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}::

Assign Logical Client Relationship Building Team Members
Step #2 – Assign Logical Client Relationship Building Team Members
Power Mapping Step #2 Legend
Power Mapping Step #2 Legend

In this step we assign our company team members to effectively manage the key influencer client relationships based on personality matching and previous interaction history.

In the above example, I (Steven Jeffes-SJ) was assigned to cover Dan Danilla (Economic Buyer) as I have had very good previous interactions with him and he seemed to like my ideas/insights.

Likewise Brian Grant (BG) was assigned to Gary West (Decision Maker), Me assigned also to Kathy Pang (Influencer), Mary Bello (MB) to Russ Porter (Approver) and Sam Snead (SS) to Matt Gandy as they head out for drinks together occasionally and have a budding social relationship.

Chart #3 represents Step #3 in Sales Power Mapping {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}::

Determine Key Client Sales Team Relationship & Perceptions
Step #3 – Determine Key Client Sales Team Relationship & Perceptions
Power Mapping Step 3 - Legend
Power Mapping Step 3 – Legend

In this step we accomplish two bits of sales analysis as follows:

1)      We determine what our previous interaction with each person has been like and how have they reacted to our team members in the past (on average).  This is represented by box #3 above “Relationship Interaction”.  In box 3 for each client team member, we noted “*” for having a positive/trusted relationship with Dan Danilla, a “+” for having a good relationship with Gary West, a “+” also for Kathy Pang as she has a good relationship with Steve Jeffes, and “-“ with Russ Porter as he has been cool and stand-offish with team members and a “=” with Matt Gandy as he has been neutral in our previous interactions with him.

2)      Our second step in this phase is to determine what each person’s impressions are of our Firm’s capabilities based on any previous statements. We color the same box #3 with colors Green for Positive, Yellow for Neutral, Red for the person having negative impressions of our firm.  These colors are noted above in box #3 for each client team member – Dan Danilla (Green), Gary West (Green), Kathy Pang (Yellow), Russ Porter (Red), and Matt Gandy (White for undetermined).

Chart #4 represents Step #4 in Sales Power Mapping {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}::

Determine Key Client Sales Team Contact Frequency
Step #4 – Determine Key Client Sales Team Contact Frequency
Power Mapping Step #4 - Legend
Power Mapping Step #4 – Legend

In this fourth step we accomplish the following:

Determine the extent to which we have had contact with each client sales team member. This step is critically important in order to be able to develop an effective action plan to help develop better relationships with each client team member.  In addition to noting the frequency of contact, detailed notes must be cultivated from each strategic sales team member to determine the following for each client team member:

1)      What previous concerns has the client team member mentioned when dealing with our team or when our potential solution was presented?

2)      What previous likes or preferences has the client team member mentioned when dealing with our team or when our potential solution was presented?

3)      What type of personality type is this client team member – analytical, introverted, social, extroverted, etc. (Should also be used in matching team members in step #2 above)

4)      What checkpoints or process steps is this client team member looking to ‘check off’ as part of this product/solution evaluation?

5)      Are there any other team stakeholders missing in developing the above organization chart that should now be added?

In the fifth and final step of this process, we perform the following:

A)     Aggregate and summarize the above sales analysis including deal strengths & weaknesses

B)     Develop a Sales Action Plan

C)     Estimate Deal Probability Closure %

The picture that summarizes the sales analysis can be shown as follows {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}::

Summarize Sales Deal Key Strenghts, Weaknesses, Action Plan, Closure Probability (%)
Step #5 – Summarize Sales Deal Key Strenghts, Weaknesses, Action Plan, Closure Probability (%)

A)     Summarize Sales Analysis:

The summary of our sales analysis (as depicted in Chart #5 above) for this sale deal is as follows:

  1. We have good and strong relationships with Dan Danilla (Economic Buyer) and Gary West (Decision Maker) putting us in a good position to win the deal.
  2. We have weaker relationships with Kathy Pang (Deal Influencer) and Russ Porter (Deal Approver) and these relationships need to be strengthened via our sales action plan. They also have either neutral or negative impressions of our firm as compared to our competitors.
  3. Matt Gandy (Deal Influencer) has a neutral position in terms of relationships with our team members and impression of our firm’s solutions and capabilities. 

B)     Develop a Sales Action Plan (Sample):

The action plan that aligns to our above sales analysis for this sales deal is as follows {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}::

Sales Power Mapping - Action Plan
Sales Power Mapping – Action Plan

C)     Estimate Deal Probability Closure %:

The final step is to estimate, utilizing all of the above insights, as well as major sales deal assets and liabilities, the probability that this sales deal will close favorably (as a win) for our firm as follows {Click on Chart for a larger/clearer image}::

Sales Power Mapping - Sales Deal Summary Assets, Liabilities, Closure Probability %
Sales Power Mapping – Sales Deal Summary Assets, Liabilities, Closure Probability %

The bottom line to sales power (influencer) mapping is that the best sales companies and your most formidable competitors are using this level of sales analysis and action planning in order to win that strategic multi-million $$$ deal.

Your organization will be at a competitive disadvantage if you do not employ this level of rigor in your sales pursuits. Trust me, it works and I have closed many large multi-million $$$$ deals (including this one – YES, the above example was A WIN!) using this technique at many of the world’s leading firms. 

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