We all have our own sales processes but are they setting you up for success? What are the hidden secrets to success?
The truth is that even though there are multiple different sales models you can employ, there are certain criteria found in every successful sales system.
It is the aim of this article to share with you often overlooked but proven tactics for building a successful sales system.
To share these tactics with you we will break down the system into five key areas:
- The team (hiring)
- The Pipeline Structure
- Pipeline data
The first tactic from all proven sales processes is they feed their sales with quality leads. To learn how to analyse your leads you can follow our guide on grading each lead that comes into your CRM.
Grading your leads allows you to assess the task being asked of sales to close those leads. Higher quality leads should close easier and for large amounts.
Keeping a steady flow of A and B grade leads flowing into your team will provide the foundation for any team to be successful.
2. The team
You are going to need to hire new people at some point. You can rely on your network and referrals but these only go so far. Sooner or later you will need to find people outside of these groups and that means you need a methodology for success.
When it comes to hiring for sales there are three rules to follow:
- Have a clearly defined job role - do not confuse multiple job descriptions in one role. Make it clear and make sure everyone understands.
- For roles like sales development representative, hire in pairs. When you hire in pairs it provides a clearer example of whether you are hiring the right people and you can assess if your sales training works. If both people succeed then things look good. If they both fail it's likely you could do a better job of training. If one succeeds and the other fails, it might be that one person just isn't a good fit for the role but you know you need to take a closer look.
- When you are hiring for more senior roles make sure you hire with experience one step above where you find yourself. For example, if you are hiring a Head of sales and your revenue is $1 million, look for someone with experience taking a business from $1 million to $10 million and not someone with experience of $50 million to $100 million.
3. Pipeline Structure
The third area for improvement that all successful sales teams excel in is how they structure their pipeline.
This may seem an obvious one but there are a few things that successful teams do well. The first is they have pipeline stages that match their audience. Not everyone needs a POC in the pipeline, others will need a workshop.
The trick is to make sure you have the right stages to match your audience but to also make sure you segment your pipeline stage sufficiently. As an example, we have seen a free trial stage in a pipeline and this has people who have started the trial but also people who have said they are interested in a trial. For these scenarios, it would make more sense to have the “waiting for trial” and “in trial” stages.
The second tactic for your pipeline structure is to make sure your stages are clearly defined. You may think it is obvious what a pipeline stage means, but is it obvious to everyone?
Have a document that clearly defines what is accepted and what is not acceptable for each stage of your pipeline. This is important because if there is confusion as to why a deal finds itself in a specific pipeline stage you cannot trust your pipeline data.
4. Pipeline data
Once you have a pipeline that you can trust you can start to dig deeper into the data and that means tracking the right information.
Some common information that you will want to track in your pipeline is:
- Use case
By tracking the use case or pain point of each deal, you can pass this information back to marketing on what messaging resonates most- not just for lead generation but for deals close. You can also run metrics on how long deals of different use cases take to close or their average amount to determine the commercial sense of each one. This can also help marketing know where to focus their attention.
- Planned close date/close date
By measuring the planned closed date of each deal it allows you to take a closer look at your pipeline by asking which deals are due to close this month. Often people look at the pipeline only as a whole and not by the segments that are expected to close each month.
- Actual close date
By comparing the planned close date to the actual close date you can see how accurate your forecasting was. You can then make adjustments as necessary. This is also important because your planned financials are based on the forecast. If these are inaccurate your financials are too.
- Closed lost category
Have a list of different categories for why you lost a deal - too expensive, lacking features etc. Have this as a dropdown because it makes it very easy to categorise lost deals for later analysis.
- Closed lost reason
The closed lost reason should be a multi-line text box where you can expand upon the exact reasons a deal was lost. It works in conjunction with the closed lost category.
- Marketing campaign responsible for specific leads
By tracking the original marketing source of the deal you can attribute real revenue to your marketing efforts and make adjustments as needed.
Here are some extra fields that you may find handy in the B2B space;
- Invoicing contact
Often there is a specific person who must be emailed or sent invoices for payment. Put their name here.
- Invoicing entity
The legal entity of the company doesn't always match the name of the company so you can add the legal entity to ensure speed of invoicing.
- Invoicing contact email
Include the invoicing contact email address so it is clear who to contact.
You can’t just rely on hiring people that are the “finished article” and there is nobody who cannot learn new skills.
Every person in your sales team should have their own training plan. To build a training plan for your employees analyse who are your best performers and what is it that makes them a top performers.
Some people may be great on the phone, others great on email - whatever it is, use your data insights to find out what these people do well and teach it to others.
The goal is to take the characteristics of your best performers and implement them into a standardised way of working.
Sales processes help create, track and execute your sales strategy to close deals. If you don't have a sales process in place, you're hurting your revenue pipeline. Use these proven sales processes to boost your business and support sales. And if you need a little help with identifying, tracking, and implementing a process that is perfect for your business, contact our team to start mapping out your growth.