So your company is having a hard time getting your sales team to constantly follow a sales process and your CRM data and forecast accuracy is paying the price. I hear that statement several times a week from companies looking to overcome this challenge. There are many reasons for this issue, processes do age, become no longer relevant, are deployed incorrectly or not trained and sustained. If you are experiencing these challenges, here are some keys to creating and sustaining an adoptable sales process.
Key number one – keep it simple. Complexity is the enemy of adoption. The more complex you make it, the fewer the sales people who will follow it. Time is a precious commodity to any sales person. The more steps you make them follow, the more data you make them enter, the more validation hoops you make the jump through - the worse your adoption will be.
Key number two - keep it aligned with the buyer. Each stage in your process should relate directly to something the buyer is doing (not something you are doing internally – like “legal review”). Keeping it aligned to the buyer is the simplest way to ensure that your opportunities are in the right sales stages. Buyer activity is the best validation you can have to the quality and progression of opportunities. By doing this, you can skip a lot of unnecessary stage requirements that burden sales people.
Key number three – focus on four simple components in each stage. These components will ensure that there is consistency across the sales people on the expectations of input and output for each stage.
- Seller action – what activity is performed and what is the goal of the activity?
- Buyer action – what is the buyer doing and what is their expectation
- Opportunity validation – what customer-driven validation tells you that an opportunity has a right to be in the stage and a right to progress to the next stage?
- KPI – what are the 2-3 data points that you need to measure in order to tell you the health of the stage?
Key number four – track and report sales behavior. I don’t mean spy on the sales people, but watch how they manage their sales process. Are they entering opportunities in the right stages? Are they skipping stages forward or backward? Are they consistently pushing deals? Do they have inaccurate close dates and values? These key behaviors, when reviewed sales person by sales person, will allow you to key in on those sales people who are struggling with your process. This will give you the easy button in knowing who needs more process adoption help.
A sales process is driven by people – buyers and sellers. People are consistently changing. By creating a simple process, with defined components, validated by buyer activity and measured at least monthly, you can keep a pulse on your adoption and the key changes that are happening in your sales operation.