Turn sales into a repeatable, predictable process and it ceases to be a problem. If you don’t have a results-focused sales process, then there’s always going to be a problem.
In my role as sales coach and trainer, I have often asked managers and business owners whether their sales in the future will be higher or lower than the past. Sadly, the response is often a mangled attempt to mask their lack of knowledge: “Well, it’s summer…” “It’s hard to tell because…” “We certainly hope so…” Rarely do I hear a definitive yes or no. The truth is, they don’t know. They lack a system or a process that enables them to predict what they are responsible for achieving.
A sales process answers many questions:
- What happens just before someone makes a buying decision?
- What occurs before that? And before that? Go all the way back to when you first received the lead.
- What is the average size sale?
- What is the average margin on each sale?
- How long is the typical sales cycle from beginning to end?
- Where do most of your profitable leads originate?
- Where should we spend our marketing dollars?
- How is marketing enhancing and driving those leads?
- What’s the best way to approach new prospects?
- What is the profile of our ideal prospects?
- What tolerance do our prospects have for increases in price?
- What personality types should we hire to help our customers buy more?
- What do new salespeople need to know to be successful? What training is required?
- What do senior salespeople need to learn to continue to be successful?
- What are the most important steps a salesperson needs to take every day in order to be successful and meet or exceed their targets?
- If a salesperson wants to increase sales by 25% this year in order to achieve specific personal goals, what should they do? Work harder? By doing what? Work smarter? What does that mean?
I could go on. Sales managers or business owners reading this might be thinking, “That’s a lot of work!” And they’d be right. But what’s the alternative? “Shooting from the hip?” “Taking it as it comes?” “Hoping and wishing?” That’s no way to run a business!
If you want your sales organization to strengthen and sustain your business, then processes and systems are essential. Most salespeople won’t like them – until they see how it makes their life easier, ensures their sales and income are more predictable, and shows them exactly what they have to do every day to stay on track.