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    Providing a map & shared language – why sales process is key

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    Faced with more competition than ever before, companies are dedicating more and more resources towards communicating what makes them stand out. However, for customers researching solutions online, offerings look very similar. While differentiation is important, HOW you sell is key to success - and will become even more so in the future.

    island_of_dreamsThe question then becomes: how do you know how your sales people sell? Do you have a sales process that captures best practices and provides a journey to success? Is your sales process visualized, used and improved upon in the day-to-day sales operations? If not, you likely don’t have a satisfying answer to this question.

    So, what actions can we take today to improve how we sell tomorrow?

    First, identify your ideal customers

    As a team, you need to be extremely clear about who your buyers are and which value propositions they will find relevant. To determine client fit, start by conducting a win/loss analysis and be specific as to what questions you need answered. For example, which customers are most profitable and how do we get more of the kind? How much up-sell potential do we have within our existing customer base?

    Once you’ve identified the clients you want to target, it’s time to focus your marketing efforts with them in mind. What you communicate on your website, your blog and in marketing campaigns needs to attract the right types of buyers.

    Start saying no to get more yes

    Your team needs clear guidelines on how to qualify, and when to disqualify, leads; spending valuable sales time with dead-beat opportunities is far too commonplace. With a clear definition of customer fit and a structured pre-qualification process, your team should be set to fill the pipeline with quality sales projects. Crucially, when we decide to invest the time in an opportunity, it needs to be very clear to your sales people what they need to do, with whom, when and why.

    Your sales process is not a drop-down list in a CRM

    When asking sales managers to describe if and how they work with a sales process, too often I hear it “has not been formalized yet” or that it is a drop-down list with phases that came with the CRM. Sometimes it’s in a binder on the shelf, untouched since the day it was provided by the sales training company, or it’s a laminated poster on the wall. The sales process is rarely “operationalized” and used to drive the right behaviors over time – subsequently, when the world around us changes, the sales process does not change with it.

    Download this free Excel tool that helps you design a b2b sales process

    A sales process should provide a map and a language

    By visualizing a phased and staged sales process, including milestones, sales aids and the language from a functioning sales methodology, we are creating a map with a starting point and a destination. We can now visualize the journey, speak the same language, prevent known obstacles and use our resources in the best possible way to reach the summit – a happy customer.

    Visualize how to reach the summit

    Seeing the progress and understanding the context of each sales project is key to ensure deal momentum, provide quality sales coaching and build an active pipeline. This will increase sales forecast accuracy and support the continuous improvement of your team. Without a map and a common language, your team will fall prey to long on-boarding times of new sales people, poor qualification, deals that lose momentum and fall between cracks, decreased margins, inaccurate forecasts and slow company growth. Some on your team may make it to the top because of great skills and endurance, but your competition will outperform you if they work smarter.

    Start by creating the map and use it daily

    Start by getting your top performers in a room, draw up your map(s) on the whiteboard and define your shared sales language. Hire a professional sales development expert to moderate and help design the sales process; introduce methodology, terminology and sales aids. Embrace their help and expertise in utilizing the latest in technology to ensure that it will be used in your daily sales operations and improve sales effectiveness. This is what you must do to prevent it from becoming another dusty binder of untapped knowledge in a shelf.

    George Brontén
    Published October 20, 2014
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn