All sales leaders would love to have a crystal ball that would accurately predict incoming sales revenue. Too often sales management is left wondering at month’s end where the promised sales are from the sales team that said it would come in and then failed to appear…again.
If we looked at this company’s sales pipeline, odds are this is what we would see:
a. Not enough new opportunities
b. Predicted closing that get delayed
c. Not enough of the right kind of opportunities
d. Opportunities that seem to be stuck and never move to the next stage
From working with companies over the last 20 years, I can also say with confidence what I won’t see with this company–a formal, structured, optimized sales process. Would you be surprised to learn that 91% of all companies suffer from this condition? And here’s the impact:
1. The company loses its most powerful tool to accurately forecast sales and drive profitable revenue through its sales pipeline in a realistic time frame.
2. Salespeople can’t effectively qualify their opportunities. They can only go with their gut or ‘quesstimate’ when asked by management whether their deals will close–and when they don’t close, offer up the same tired excuses.
3. Sales management can’t effectively coach the sales team using a ‘common sales language’ and thus hold them to a formal standard of selling strategies and behaviors which sends the underlying message to the salespeople: “This is the way we do it at this company.”
4. Research from the CSO Insights organization in 2012 revealed that less than 50% of forecasted deals actually were won. About 27% were lost to competition and about 26% resulted in no buying activity at all. Without a formal, structured, optimized sales process, it’s difficult for management to prioritize valuable resources to pursue deals that will actually happen and the company has a good chance to win.
A formal, structured, optimized sales process should have these two qualities: First, it must have defined steps that are clearly performed and, when executed correctly, provide expected results and second, it must have a concrete method of measuring progress made.
A well trained and well coached sales force, following a this type of sales process will see these results:
- Shorter sales cycles
- Higher conversion rates
- More repeat business
- Higher margins
- More accurate forecasting
Finally, for a little bit of fun, watch this clip from “The Italian Job” and see a structured, optimized ‘process’ come to life!