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Many executive leaders believe they have a robust sales process or methodology in place. Digging deeper, we find that the sales process is merely a list of obligatory items the sales team must enter in the CRM. The information entered adds little value to the sales process or decision making. CRM data merely exists to give executive leadership visibility into the sales funnel. To the sales team, CRM entries are nothing more than busywork and a distraction from closing deals.

A robust sales process is more than entering information into the CRM and should have the following attributes:

Stage Gates

Stage gates are simply points in a process where certain decisions are made. For a sales organization managing opportunities, stage gates are points where certain team members or leaders make decisions on whether or not to continue pursuing an opportunity.

An initial stage gate might be customer qualification. A series of defined questions are asked about the customer before the sales team conducts the initial meeting: Does the prospect have money to afford our product/services? Is the prospect in an industry we can serve? The sales methodology should dictate the criteria ahead of time (e.g., “Prospect must have at least $50MM in annual revenue”). These are the deal killers—points where the sales team knows to stop the pursuit and focus time and energy on prospects who meet the right qualifications.

Actionable Metrics

Organizations have performance metrics, but few of them drive changes in behavior. For each performance metric, sales leadership should ask what behavior is going to change. If an organization is measuring CPA (cost per acquisition), will the sales team have a process for reviewing high CPA deals and determining if they should pursue future customers with the same attributes? In other words, is there a look-back or closed loop process for examining metrics after deals are lost or won and following delivery to the customer? The look-back analysis should be driving lessons learned and continuous improvement to sales methods and practices.

Clear Roles & Accountability

Accountability for making decisions must be clearly defined and understood as a part of the sales process. Many sales organizations tend to believe they can make decisions regarding pricing, product specifications, quality expectations, and delivery timing—meanwhile, the true accountability lies with other departments.

A robust sales process will have specific decision points where certain departments are involved in the sales process. Let’s say delivery expectations are owned by the supply team since they’re accountable for meeting customer expectations. Therefore, the sales team would need to get sign-off on delivery dates by the plant manager. The plant manager will know what he promised and will be accountable for delivery, enabling the organization to have a better chance of meeting promise dates.

Roles and accountabilities should have touch points throughout the sales process to ensure that the right people are involved to meet delivery, quality, and margin expectations.

More on This

These aren’t the only factors that go into a robust sales process. Many others are found by selecting the right sales methodology in the first place.

Check out the following related articles:

3 Considerations When Selecting the Right B2B Sales Methodology

9 Questions Executives Should be Asking During Sales Reviews

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