Current economic conditions can present unique challenges for your sales team and culture.
These challenges may include: 1) continuing efforts by large companies to aggressively manage their supply chain by putting pressure on your pricing (and margins) and by requesting ideas for cost reductions or 2) unexpected requests from companies for your organization to quote on pieces of business that you haven't been able to quote on in the past (making your team susceptible to doing free consulting) or 3) companies continuing to commoditize you by comparing your high value-added product or service offering to lesser value-added competition. Your salespeople may be encountering one or all three of these situations.
These sales challenges require renewed attention on the importance of staying focused in using your organization's sales process to close sales with current and potential customers.
The ideal sales process has these objectives and characteristics:
1. To qualify the prospect for a 'fit' for your product or service offering.
2. To uncover business problems you can solve with your value added offering.
3. To manage and protect your sales team's sales assets – time, knowledge, customer relationships, company expenses and the salesperson's self-esteem.
4. To accomplish 1 – 3 in a cost effective timeframe that allows your company to deliver the ultimate value required by the customer to solve their problem.
Having this type of ideal sales process in place and operational will make it easier for your sales organization to honor that process when working with the customer challenges described earlier.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines honor as "to live up to or fulfill the terms of". In terms of honoring your sales process this means your salespeople will consistently and appropriately use its steps and strategies with customers. Doing this requires daily discipline by your salespeople. Any salesperson can give a minor price concession to a customer when times are good and orders are coming in from other customers. However, only a disciplined salesperson can live up to their process and respond effectively when, in a slow economy, a major customer threatens to put their book of business out to bid in response to your company requesting a needed price increase.
As the leader of your organization, your mission and purpose should be to grow and nurture your team's discipline to honor their sales process by setting the proper expectations, holding people accountable and giving positive reinforcement to salespeople who effectively execute the right behaviors.