26/01/2016 | Sales management
Over the past 12 months we have met and/or worked with around 20 UK businesses in a variety of sectors but predominantly from engineering and service backgrounds.
Invariably, as the conversation turns to the existence (or otherwise) of a defined sales process and its significance in maximising the effectiveness of the sales operation, someone suggests that ‘it’s not like selling photocopiers you know.’
What we often find is behind this type of statement, is the belief that the service or product being sold is quite complicated in itself, that buyers acquire it in many differing ways and that mapping out what we might call the ‘lean’, most effective process would be difficult and have little merit in helping improve sales.
However, experience from over 200 different assignments in the past 15 years suggests otherwise! We fully accept that implementing an appropriate sales process can be difficult: indeed, just establishing the key steps and their various dependencies and the time each one takes, can be daunting. Interestingly though, the rewards of overcoming this challenge far outweigh the difficulties involved (25% increase in sales person productivity anyone?) and just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. The philosophy is no different than that used to improve any other business process and in any business looking to grow beyond the current market rate, leaving it on the ‘too difficult’ pile shouldn’t be an option.
So how to do it?
Establish the type of business you’d like to win, where best to find it and the profile of the ‘ideal’ opportunity, including size.
Identify each of the core steps in one of these sales, excluding as many variations as possible and not necessarily focusing on how it happens today. Remember to focus on the steps that you could realistically meaningfully measure. So counting in or out bound e-mails without any way of assessing their quality isn’t helpful.
Estimate how long each of these steps takes, typically, when done by the strongest people in the team, and, if you don’t know them, also estimate the conversion ratio from each stage to the next.
Working backwards from the target revenues, calculate how many of these types of deals you need and multiply the time involved through the sales process by this number, taking account of the impact of the conversion ratios.
Having removed the time associated with holidays, training, sales meetings etc. (i.e. important time users but ones that don’t contribute directly to a sale of the type you want), calculate how much time each person has available to complete the quantity of sales activity required to hit the target. Check this can be achieved without a dramatic increase in deal size or conversion ratio.
Explain this to the sales team and start to measure the actual numbers versus the ones you modelled. You now have a method of understanding the specific ‘inputs’ to the sales process, rather than just the outputs i.e. orders and can act early to deliver a different result if required. Crucially, you also have visibility of the most appropriate levers to pull for each sales person since each will have slightly different numbers and ratios, depending on their accounts, skills, geography etc. and the Impact of changing any of these can be easily shown.
Get in touch with Sales Blueprint.