Many companies believe that a “business is only as good as its employees,” a fundamental mantra of corporate life. To a limited degree, this is true: employees are ultimately responsible to deliver high quality products, care for customers, and serve as the face of the company. However, while employee impact should never be minimized, I also believe that a “sales force is only as good as its sales process.” An effective process will help you track sales history, assign ownership, and set realistic goals for your team, elements which provide the direction and pacing employees need to succeed.
A sales process functions like a conveyor belt: packages drop onto the belt, and as they travel through the production facility they pass through various stages of the manufacturing process, hit specific check-points, and ideally, high quality finished products are sent to the correct destinations. The journey down the conveyor belt ensures consistent, timely deliveries, but if you don’t monitor the process, production can spin out of control. (As anyone who has seen the episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel work the assembly line at a chocolate factory can attest.) In the same way, creating a “conveyor belt” for your team will guide prospective clients through the sales process, from the first point of contact to closing the deal.
Many sales leaders stand at the end of the conveyor belt and hope enough product comes off the line to meet their goal. It’s an unnerving, powerless feeling. Instead of leaving the process to chance and hoping for the best, proactively designing the sales process ensures that enough raw materials go on the belt and that each step in the process is effectively managed.
So, how do you begin to map the process or “conveyor belt” for your sales team? Because it’s best to begin with the end in mind, ask yourself the following questions:
• What’s your company’s five year plan?
• What’s your capital goal for next year’s sales?
• What aspects of our current sales process are keeping us from achieving these goals?
As you consider these questions, review the team’s sales history, current economic patterns, industry trends, etc. and to set a sales goal for the team. Place this goal at the end of your conveyor belt. Now that you’ve determined your destination, it’s time to define the steps in the sales process. Carefully record each twist, turn, and maneuver that the team makes during a sale. For example:
• How many calls does a salesperson need to make each day to surface a hot lead?
• How many of these leads turn into negotiations?
• How many negotiations turn into signed contracts?
Simply put, what steps and numerical goals should be added to your process to help the team achieve its capital goal? The answers to these questions will help you lay out your conveyor sales process.
To finish the conveyor belt, you must address questions of ownership: Who is responsible to move each item to the next stage of the process? Defining your department’s job descriptions and responsibilities will help you align each person’s role to the process, ensuring clear communication as prospects move along the conveyor belt.
Seems simple, right? Unfortunately, the complexity of the process can confound even the savviest planners. Commissioning a third party perspective can help you evaluate data and streamline the process to help your team achieve its potential. I recommend hiring someone who specializes in managing sales processes to provide the most relevant guidance for your company. There’s no sense wasting time and money on a consultant who provides generic results that won’t stand up to the competition. Even the most state-of-the-art solutions won’t serve your team well if the conveyor belt isn’t designed to fit the unique needs of your organization.
Here’s to revitalizing your sales process with the help of a well-designed conveyor belt! If you would like to talk more about sales process, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below. I appreciate your feedback and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
See you next time.