Yes, you read this headline right – by developing a sales process, you could increase your sales. By exactly how much, you may ask? This is up for debate. Depending on whether you listen to Dave Kurlan or the Harvard Business Review, you can expect to enjoy 18-20 per cent growth from a sales process alone.
Or, if you listen to SalesStar, you could enjoy even more revenue. According to founder and group CEO, Paul O’Donohue, SalesStar clients have achieved a phenomenal 37 per cent top-line growth.
“Research shows an uplift of around 18 per cent – but our clients are growing by 37 per cent,” says Paul.
“This is because they map out a sales process, provide continuous coaching and training around this process, and enable sales managers to hold people accountable to the activities they should be doing. When you have accountability and coaching around your process, you will see very, very strong growth within your company.”
Let’s go back a few steps.
What is a sales process and why is it so important?
A sales process is a company-wide standard that all sales staff follow. It’s a framework for consistent rules, based on sound research and sales best practice.
Everything is linked to your sales process – from staff training, to how to handle customer objections to what happens after a deal is closed. The sales process should be your organisation’s ‘guiding light’.
However, if you’re like 90 per cent of the businesses we come across, then chances are you don’t have an official sales process in place.
It’s okay – it’s never too late to develop one.
The first step is realising that your current system needs work. Many businesses believe they do have an effective sales process, when in reality it’s never followed in ‘real life’.
If you’re unsure, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do we have a company-wide practice standard?
- Is everybody following it?
- If we were to ask our staff what the sales process is, would everyone give the same answer?
If your answer is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’ to any of the above questions, then your sales process needs work. The challenge is to take your loose guidelines and turn them into a reliable sales process that underpins the success of your organisation.
So now for the million dollar question: how do you create (or improve) your sales process?
Believe it or not, most good sales processes start with post-it notes.
“Typical process mapping methods don’t have to use fancy technology,” says Alex Chan, SalesStar Global Head of Learning. “As a matter of fact, the use of post-it notes in the early stages can be very effective.”
Alex shares the following steps for creating your sales process.
Step one: Write down all of your milestones, steps and to-dos on post-it notes.
Step two: Divide your post-it notes into 4-6 columns (representing ‘phases’) of the sales process. These phases can vary depending on what you’re selling, but typically they are as follows:
- Lead Generation
- Initiating Contact
- Discovery Meeting
- Presenting Solution
- The Close
- Account Management
Every phase should also have phase objectives, phase steps/actions, and a qualifying checklist (so you can tick off the completed phase before you move onto the next one), as well as a Probability Weighted Forecast, Sales Velocity, and KPIs.
Once you are happy with your sales process, transfer it to a digital platform such as an Excel spreadsheet or CRM software, where you can continue to refine it until it’s perfect.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry – that’s understandable. You will probably only develop a sales process once or twice in your lifetime, so it’s bound to feel like a challenge. That’s why it’s important to seek advice and support from a sales process expert.
As leading sales expert Dave Kurlan describes, developing an effective sales process is a lot like “needing electricity in the middle of a stone wall with no nearby source to tap into. For you? Impossible. For an electrician? It’s all in a day’s work.”
Find the right electrician, be prepared to make adjustments, and soon you could be enjoying that extra holiday thanks to a 20 per cent sales increase.
Want to increase sales by 20 per cent? Check out our latest eBook – free to download now.