This is part 3 of a sales process series based on discussions with Insightly VP of Sales Mark Ripley.
Even after you’ve developed your ideal sales process and aligned it with the buyer journey, there are still challenges to overcome now and in the future. Unexpected changes in market conditions, new product launches, and a rapid expansion or contraction of the sales team are just a few examples.
Is your sales process designed to last?
Let’s examine tips for future-proofing your sales process.
Why some sales processes fail and tips to avoid mistakes
Here are five reasons why sales processes fall short – and some best practices to avoid mistakes.
1. The sales process is too complex
It is necessary and logical to divide your sales process into clearly defined phases and steps. Finally, your sales team needs a general roadmap to ensure that deals are being conducted in a way that matches your business goals.
However, according to Mark Ripley, vice president of sales at Insightly, developing an overly complex sales process is a recipe for failure.
“One of the things that can affect a sales process is that employees don’t follow it,” says Mark. “When sales managers overcomplicate the sales process with too many phases, steps, scripts, assets, and questions, employees give it up.”
How to avoid: Focus on two things: simplicity and buy-in. Go back and re-examine your customer buying process and look for ways to reduce the complexity of your sales process. Work with executives across the company to ensure alignment and confirm their buy-in. Once management has fully completed the final sales process, it is time to deploy it to the entire team. When sales reps know their managers believe in the sales process, they are more likely to believe it – and follow it.
2. The sales process is too vague
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s a sales process that lacks meaningful details. Similar to over-complicating things, having too vague results leads to a similar result: exiting through repetition.
“Your sales process has dumped the value significantly if it’s random,” says Mark. “You can’t measure anything and there is no consistency for the repetitions.”
How to avoid: If your sales process is too complex, don’t overcompensate and go too far in the opposite direction. Instead, seek a balanced approach that combines structure with the freedom of your employees to do what they do best.
“An effective sales process is in the middle,” says Mark. “It gives people a framework for persistence, but it also allows each individual to thrive on the basis of their own strengths.”
3. Mentality “set and forget”
A sales process is not like an automated workflow that you create once, activate, and then seldom consider. Rather, a good sales process is an unfinished process that needs to be constantly measured, reevaluated, optimized and, in some cases, revised.
“You can’t stop and forget the sales process,” says Mark. “It’s something you establish and then keep looking for ways to improve yourself in a never-ending evolution.”
How to avoid: Be proactive to develop and maintain an ideal sales process for your company. Start a cross-functional team that meets regularly (at least twice a year) to discuss bottlenecks and areas for improvement. Use data from your CRM to go beyond gut instinct and set data-driven goals. For example, by the end of this year you could try to fully understand your MQL to SQL ratio for each of your industries. Understanding the key figures makes it easier to identify problems, supports ongoing coaching sessions with employees and continuously refines your sales process.
4. Inability to adapt
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed most aspects of our personal and professional lives – and sales are no exception. Practically overnight, sales teams used to working in shared physical offices had no choice but to go remotely. Companies that future-proofed their sales processes had a competitive advantage over those that hadn’t.
According to Mark, “the pandemic has absolutely exacerbated the importance and impact of a sales process.”
How to avoid: If your organization has never developed a sales process or your current sales process is not well documented, now is the time to take action.
“Documentation is more important than ever for companies when they move to a remote working environment,” says Mark. “You need this master sales process document so that every sales rep can deliver the ideal customer experience and maximize sales, even in a remote world.”
5. Right process, wrong technology
It is not enough to just have one master sales process document or diagram. Sales reps need the right tools and technology to carry out their day-to-day tasks in line with your ideal sales process. However, if your process document and sales tools are misaligned, it will kill the sales process.
How to avoid: Look for systems that best fit your ideal sales process. If it means making a change, so be it. Do your homework and research other sales systems’ capabilities. In particular, look for a CRM that can be easily customized to suit your sales process – without the need for complex development or expensive CRM consultants.
Request a free CRM needs assessment and Insightly CRM product demo to see how sales automation can help you meet your sales goals.
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Don’t get lost in the weeds
Over the course of this three-part series, we’ve talked a lot about the sales process – what it is, why it matters, how it can be customized for your customers’ buying process, and how challenges can be overcome. With so much to think about, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds at the expense of the bigger picture.
As you improve your sales process, keep in mind that maximizing sales is the whole point of any sales process.