Are you happy with your sales? More importantly – are you as happy as you could be? If you want to find out how happy you could be with your sales, you need to identify what’s missing.
Before you can take the necessary steps to optimise your sales processes so that they power your sales growth, you’ve got to know exactly what you’re dealing with right now. Analysing your sales processes will help you spot any gaps that could be leaking revenue. Then, you can brainstorm to make changes – some large, some small – to optimise your sales processes and get your sales growing.
Here are 9 key questions to help you with Optimising your Sales Processes:
- Do you know how many actions your company takes before you achieve a confirmed new sale?
- Do you know how many actions your customer takes before you achieve a confirmed new sale?
- Do you have essential steps that your customer is required to take so that a sale can progress?
- Do you have essential steps that require the customer to make any effort?
- Is your customer taking at least 20% of the actions?
- Do you know the time intervals between each action your company takes, and the action that you customer subsequently takes?
- Does your whole sales team follow an agreed, validated, best practice with their sales processes?
- Does everyone in the company who ‘touches’ your customer follow the same steps to record information, assist the customer, etc?
- Do you have anyone in your company who monitors your sales processes to develop measurements for sales success?
How did you go with your sales processes? If you answered ‘No’ to any of these questions or to most of them – don’t panic! Now that you’re informed about any gaps in your sales processes, you can do something about it.
What your 9 answers reveal about your Sales Processes:
Question 1 – Do you know how many actions your company takes before you achieve a confirmed new sale?
Finding out the exact number of actions your company take before you achieve a confirmed sale will probably surprise you – and a lot of other Founders and Sales Managers running businesses.
We’re not just talking about the email that contains your proposal plus a couple of follow-up calls where you finally got through to them. You need to measure every interaction from every person at your company.
If you have a Sales Development Rep (are you still calling them a Telemarketer?) doing the groundwork for your sales appointments, remember to count every telephone call they make, even calls where the line is engaged, or they reach the wrong colleague. Also count every email that your SDR sends and any direct messaging via social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. (Yes – you absolutely should be utilising social media to grow your sales!)
Now that you’ve measured every single action from the people in your company, allocate a time measurement to each action. Then add up the total time taken by your company.
Be honest. Is the amount of time more than you’d like it to be? Is it more than realised your team were spending on each customer? This is not a time for blame, but an opportunity for sales insights. If you don’t like the amount of time your company spends to finally confirm a new sale – you now have an opportunity to change this.
Question 2 – Do you know how many actions your customer takes before you achieve a confirmed new sale?
This is where the real fun starts – when you measure how many actions your customer takes before you achieve a confirmed new sale.
When we do this exercise with clients, they are often surprised how few actions their customers are required to take.
Remember to count your customers’ interactions with your website and social media. Your content will be attracting customers to your website as they research for the solution to their problems. When they discover that you are the right type of company to talk to, they will make contact. You may think they’ve just started their sales process, when they are already quite some way along the path to making their decision to buy from you.
Question 3 – Do you have essential steps that your customer is required to take so that a sale can progress?
The key word here is ‘required’. There’s a lot of writing on the internet these days about streamlining your sales processes to make it easy for the customer to buy from you. This is particularly important for lower-value products/services, especially if you want your customer to sign up to your subscription model. Naturally, you want the customer to feel as little friction as possible when they are deciding to make that final ‘click’ and confirm their purchase, or sign up for six months, etc. The lower the level of friction, the less steps/actions the customer is required to do to complete the purchase
In the case of high-value products and services, there’s probably a lot more personalisation in the solution that your customer is purchasing. To get the personalisation requirements right, most businesses need their customer to take actions.
So, what type of essential actions could you get your customer to take, to help the your sales to progress? Remember, by this stage, the customer needs to be committed to the solution you provide, happily moving towards it by actively taking action.
Here’s a list of suggested actions you could get your customer to take:
- Completing and signing a contract
- Booking in a follow-up meeting
- Sending an internal email to staff, copying you in to introduce you to them
- Giving you access to their data so that you can do your best job
Remember to only include actions which are essential, to keep your customer fully engaged with the sales process.
Question 4 – Do you have any essential steps that require the customer to make any effort?
This question is not too dissimilar to question three, which was all about steps required for the sale to progress.
Some steps can be very easy – such as clicking a ‘Subscribe’ button on your website.
What you really want to achieve is a lot of customers with ‘sticky’ relationships to your business. Sticky customer relationships are business relationships where the customer becomes more connected to you than they were previously. Customer relationships that are ‘sticky’ are often created when your customer takes steps towards the sale that require a little bit of effort. In other words – you’ve just created ‘customer buy-in’. The more effort your customer needs to make to reach their solution, they more committed they are to that solution i.e. to buying from your business.
You need to go beyond simply getting the customer to click on a ‘subscribe’ button. You also don’t want the customer to have to make so much effort that they get annoyed and go elsewhere.
Can you connect them into a Facebook group with other like-minded customers?
Is there information you need them to give you, perhaps by filling out a form?
Does the customer need to
- Sign a contract
- Give you access to data
- Take a photo and email it to you?
Whatever you do – make it as simple as possible, but still requiring more effort than just clicking ‘submit’.
Question 5 – Is your customer taking at least 20% of the actions?
This is a biggie. If your customer is taking less than 20% of the actions to get the sale over the line, that means your company is taking more than 80% of the actions. When this action-balance swings too far out, it’s a sign that your customer is not really making much effort or buying into the sale very much. As per point 4 above – what essential steps can you add into your sales process that the customer is required to do?
Like in most other parts of life – action demonstrates commitment. Put some steps in place that get your customer to taking action towards their solution. This will increase customer buy-in and mean that you’re much more likely gain a confirmed sale.
Question 6 – Do you know the time intervals between each action your company takes, and the action that you customer subsequently takes?
It’s often only when your business maps your sales processes that you truly realise how much time it’s taking your sales team to bring on board that new customer.
Creating a more holistic journey map that includes all your marketing and social media steps will help to show you whether each new sale is taking more time than you thought.
Once you know how much time each sale takes to become confirmed, you’re empowered to make choices.
Have a careful look at your existing sales processes.
- Are they optimised for sales success?
- What can you change?
- What can you remove?
- What can you add?
If you can’t change anything, at least you’re informed about your real sales metrics. If you’re able to make changes, you now have the knowledge to benchmark your sales processes and measure improvements.
Question 7 – Does your whole sales team follow an agreed, validated, best practice with their sales processes?
Your whole sales team needs to follow your agreed sales processes. Not because you delight in giving them more to do (and we seriously do hope you’re not that type of manager!), but because the consistent processes around entering customer data, sending contracts out, etc will deliver a whole lot of benefits for your business.
Even small changes can deliver big results. What small changes to your sales processes can you get your team to adopt, to optimise your sales processes and grow your sales?
Here are some of the benefits to expect when you apply consistent, optimised sales processes:
- Reduction in errors
- Staff are enabled to help each other during any absences
- Creation of a unified culture in your sales team, and in your business
- Increased trust and confidence between your team members
Question 8 – Does everyone in the company who ‘touches’ your customer follow the same steps to record information, assist the customer, etc?
It’s not enough for those in your company who are responsible for sales to follow agreed sales processes. Your wider team, in fact everyone in the company who ‘touches’ your customer, should follow the same steps for recording information, providing customer assistance, etc.
An excellent goal for your Customer Relationship Management system is that your CRM will become the ‘one version of the truth’ about your customers. To pull accurate reports and analytics from your CRM, you need to know that everyone has entered data in the most optimal way. Consistency of data entry will lead to consistent data which will lead to accurate sales forecasting.
Question 9 – Do you have anyone in your company who monitors your sales processes to develop measurements for your sales success?
To really get the most from your sales efforts, you need someone at your company who takes ownership for sales success.
If you’re a small company, this will most likely be the Founder. Larger companies are probably fortunate enough to have a Head of Sales.
The person taking ownership over sales often has a challenging role. They may be expected to help achieve sales quota themselves, as well as taking on the leadership role. If you are tasked with monitoring and measuring sales for your company, make the time to develop good reporting on all your sales processes. Your role is crucial for checking that your team is on target to achieve. After all, nobody wants to accidentally miss sales targets because they slowly veered off-track.
As the famous management thinker Peter Drucker says – You can’t manage what you can’t measure’. Your team’s ability to measure your sales progress will directly correspond to better sales management, which will lead to sales growth – and ultimately lead to everyone achieving.
So – How do you get your team onboard with optimising your sales processes?
Optimising your sales processes is on the very ‘non-glamourous’ side of sales. Many salespeople would rather be in on the sales action, going to meetings, hosting webinars, writing sales copy, as opposed to checking their data and their sales processes.
Make sure you get everyone on-board. Help them to recognise that accurate data powers sales and share this truth with your wider company team. Once everyone understands the importance of your CRM and of keeping up with your best-practice sales processes, you’ll be set up for even more sales success.
If you’d like to make sure your business has optimised sales processes in place that support your sales growth – let’s talk