Learn how to build an effective sales team and implement a successful sales process.
Building a sales team and process is one of the key tasks to achieve regardless if you’re a start-up or an existing business. It can be very easy to overlook some of the important elements of the ‘sales process’ EVEN when sales are the most important part of your business?
To build a successful sales strategy, sales team, sales process, sales training, through to sales coaching and mentoring program takes an enormous amount of time. Experts should be engaged to for help and advice. No single organisation can complete all of the elements required for a successful, effective, and measurable open-to-close sales process.
As a leader in business mentoring and sales coaching, Robert Durrant has created this article which covers the essential elements that MUST be addressed to build a successful and sustainable sales program for your business.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Firstly, you cannot possibly be an expert at this, and don’t start pushing the “we can do it all ourselves internally” attitude down onto your sales team at the start or you will never succeed.
Work with experienced and reputable agencies who can help you with tools, templates, software vendors, training, and also mentoring services that will ensure that you build a sales process that suits your business type, products, industry, and of course your culture.
Understanding your industry and market.
Every industry and market segment has its unique ways of conducting business. The sales process for a software development firm WILL NOT work for a plumbing or trade business. It’s important to do your homework and research the industry before you start building your sales program.
It’s important to understand your market (especially if you are new to it) before you move into the next section where you begin to build your strategy and plan.
Create a sales strategy and plan.
Strategy, Strategy, Strategy…This IS the secret of how a successful company trades in today’s competitive environment.
A strategy is a growing and evolving element of your business. Before you start employing staff and contract agencies to build your sales toolkits, take the time and get the strategy and plan correctly from the beginning.
Deciding your sales process.
Building a repeatable, scalable sales process will make such a difference to the long-term viability of your business. There is plenty of great information on the Internet about this, but where should you start? Here are the 7-stages to any successful sales process.
This is the stage where qualitative, quantitative, demographic, and psychographic research is analysed to gain insight into prospect behaviour and buying patterns. It’s where prospect identification, confirmation, and lead generation come in. Inbound marketing, social media, and content marketing efforts help generate qualified leads, greatly reduce cold calling and shorten the sales cycle considerably.
This sales process stage encompasses a variety of diverse sales skills, such as meeting preparation, creating interest, anticipating and overcoming objections, presenting, consulting, and audience engagement techniques, closing gestures, follow-up … and more.
Assuming you’ve got the first 2-steps completed, you now need book a meeting and presentation. The stage following the meeting and/or presentation will be determined by how well you have nailed down the prior steps and how well you perform your presentation. The key is to research, do your homework, practice and learn to improve.
If you are lucky enough to get through to the proposal stage, you now need to put fingers to keyboard and build a ‘solution’ for the client which includes the investment. This is where you’re client requirements, and value benefits need to be clearly laid out and justified.
Negotiation and Commitment
Time to use your poker face and a bit of sucking up to the client to get the deal. If you’re lucky enough to be awarded the business (and a lot of times, hard work and preparation aside, sales comes down to timing and luck), it becomes your obligation to ensure that what you promised is delivered.
Account Management or Customer Relationship Management are usually dedicated roles within a company to keep internal and external contacts involved and communicated.
Use your CRM system to store essential information about the client — that’s what it’s for.
Account Management is an often-overlooked and underutilised stage of the process, despite containing hidden revenue-generating up and cross-sell opportunities.
Mapping out your sales process.
You’re ready to put pen to paper (or, mouse-to-drawing tool) to draw out your sales process.
Here is how we recommend, you start this process.
Start by observing.
Look back at the last 5 or 10 deals that closed. What were the major steps in the process? How many touchpoints were made with the customer? Roughly how long did the entire process take, and how much time elapsed between each step?
Map your observations to a generic example.
While every sales process is different, chances are the steps you observed align at least somewhat with the common steps we outlined earlier. Your list of steps may be shorter or may include stages not listed above, but a generic example is often a good starting point.
Define the prospect action that moves them to the next stage.
For each of the stages you define, you’ll want to have a crisp explanation of what causes a prospect to move from one stage to the next. Ideally, that reason or cause will be based upon the actions of the prospect, not the perception of the sales rep. Yes or no questions or questions with quantifiable answers are best.
Iterate the process over time.
Devising your teams’ sales process is a job that never ends. Especially in the weeks and months after your initial research, you’ll want to continue to iterate on your work based on feedback from your team. Over the longer term, it’s likely your sales process will evolve as your team finds ways to work more efficiently and move prospects through your pipeline faster.
Measuring Your Sales Process.
As you define and evolve your sales process map over time, you’ll want to think about what the key metrics are that you should measure at each stage.
Invest in software tools to support your sales team.
Build the necessary sales toolkits to support what you are selling and also the sales process you have designed. If you download the whitepaper of this article, we have included details about each of the below
• Brochures, Fact Sheets and Whitepapers
• PowerPoint Templates and Demonstration videos and clips
• Price Lists
• Technical Data Sheets
• Proposal boilerplates
• Customer references.
Here are a bunch of software tools that can help you to support your sales team.
(Dropbox, LinkedIn, Text Expander, ToutApp, Pipedrive, and WebEx.)
Have a good hiring process.
Everyone is always perfect for the role, and everyone is always so keen – at the start!
When it comes to hiring salespeople, be tough and don’t settle for less than what you expect. Our biggest tip is to have a good, clear job description and vision for that role for say 2-5 years maximum.
It’s important that they have some knowledge of the product/service as well. However, you can teach people product and industry knowledge, but you cannot buy contacts and networks, nor teach them the art of customer service, negotiation, thinking on their feet during a sales demonstration.
Keep your firing gun at the ready in your halter.
Not a chance that every salesperson you hire will make it. Possibly not their fault either, not all business processes suit all individuals. Your sales process doesn’t guarantee that every hire you make will be successful. In the sales world, time is a deal killer. This applies to having a low performer on the team as well. If they are dragging along and just don’t seem like the right fit, you need to be quick to pull the trigger on letting them go.
Have metrics to hold people accountable.
Establishing a set of KPI’s from the beginning ensures that every member of the sales team understands their role and what they are accountable for.
Just as important as the KPI’s are the reports and measurement factors.
Ensure that you have regular meetings and well-designed reports (preferably from automated sales systems and not spreadsheets) that provide detailed summaries of their sales results and provide feedback, help and advice.
Allow for the ramp-up period.
It’s almost impossible for your sales team to meet their sales targets in the first few months. Introduce a ramp-up program that allows them to measure their progress – have them decide what these values should be (not you). I would limit this to 3-4 months, larger enterprise sales maybe can be pushed out to 6-months.
Pay people right, and look after them.
Commission only doesn’t work so well – it’s been proven many a time.
We work on the ‘risk principle’ e.g. we invest in you with base salary and training, plus all the marketing for you to make sales. You need to invest within this same risk by taking a lower base salary and a higher commission. Over time as the business matures, this can be re-negotiated.
Ensure that salespeople are focused on sales rather than paying their house mortgage.
Oh! and PAY THEM THE COMMISSION THEY DESERVE – if you don’t pay, they won’t sell.
Communicate like it’s your first relationship.
We support the idea of working remotely, and flexible working hour principles.
However, this does require a lot of communications, discipline and trust.
There are tools such as email, live chat, Google Hangouts, etc. that allow you to interact wherever you are and within any time zone. Our advice is to set this scene early and avoid a mess.
Try some of these techniques:
• Daily e-mail wrap-ups
• Morning sales huddles
• Weekly 1-on-1’s
• Weekly/monthly sales summaries
Use Sales Training, Coaching, and Mentoring like Oxygen.
• Sales methodology
• Psychology of sales
• Objection handling
• Pre-call planning
• Meeting and Demo best practices
• Target customer profile.
• The origin story of the product
• Functionality, including features and benefits
• The target market
• The product value for customers
• The key business cases
• Competitor landscape.
Systems / Process Training
• Sales process through the funnel
• CRM data entry
• Use of the technology stack
• Executing a proof of concept
• Onboarding a new customer
• A central repository for sales enablement.
Sales Skill Coaching & Sales Mentoring Programs
Sales Coaching & Mentoring is usually provided by subject matter experts, extends your product or functional training with advice, guidance, and most importantly, the strategy. It’s this total combination that builds self-confidence within sales staff and turns sales into business development.
Digital Marketing drives Sales Leads.
Don’t forget that it’s an effective marketing program that will drive sales enquiries and leads. Without this, your sales team will be wasting a lot of time educating the market on who they are and what they do.
WITHOUT a focused sales and marketing strategy, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on lead generation, over the long-term, you WILL NOT have a sustainable sales pipeline, and your sales team WILL waste a lot of time re-qualifying leads.
Recommendations and Advice.
While you can’t predict the future, we are confident that whatever vision or plan you start out with, will not be the same as you have after trading for 12-months (and that’s ok). Dynamic and successful organisations are all about adapting to this change, and meeting opportunity as it arises head-on. This characteristic also needs to reflect within the people you employ.
Our best advice is to continually update your strategy and plan as your business grows and matures. However, do not lose sight of your business message, its position, and what you believe in.
You also need to surround yourself with experienced people who can mentor you with advice that will build your confidence and help you to grow the business by making focused and informed decisions.
Ask for our Comprehensive How-To Whitepaper
Need some help to pull all of this together?
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[DOWNLOAD] Creating a Successful Sales Team Guide. This is your step-by-step document to building your company-specific sales team and sales development program.
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