It’s a fact: well-defined sales processes lead to more productive sales performance. In a study conducted by CSO Insights, this fact was validated—companies with defined sales processes won 53% of their forecasted deals vs. 43% with ad hoc processes. This essentially means that a defined sales process yields 23% more output from sales. The numbers for % reps making quota, and % companies making plan also tell a similar story (see graph below).
From nearly every vantage point, the research confirms that better sales processes equal better sales performance. Reason to say yes to formalizing your sales processes? We think so!
Cracking the Sales Management Code
The information above was taken directly from Cracking the Sales Management Code, by Jason Jordan. If you haven’t read it, I suggest that you pick it up—it’s a favorite in our office. The basic takeaway is that you can’t manage organizational outcomes—quota attainment, revenue—which is traditionally where a lot of sales organizations focus.
Instead, your focus— especially if you’re a sales manager—should be on proactively managing reps’ activities by establishing deliberate, standardized meetings/activities with formal agendas, inputs, and outputs. Managed well, improvements in these activities will impact measurable objectives and ultimately improve outcomes.
Putting an actionable plan in place
I want to highlight how we were able to bring a formal, defined process to a typical sales meeting: The Forecast Review. Often, the urgency of the forecast beats the importance of rep development. But it’s a false dilemma. There are ways to improve both at the same time.
We’ve spent the last six months listening to hundreds of manager-seller interactions— forecasts, 1-on-1s, opportunity reviews, account management meetings, and pre-call planning sessions. The bad news is that the general quality of these meetings are substandard. The good news is that with some simple modifications they can be improved dramatically — leading to accurate forecasts, improved quota attainment, empowered salespeople, and ultimately improved sales performance.
If your forecast review meeting is not on a formal cadence with a formal approach and a formal agenda then you’re a hack…well, not really. Don’t worry, you’re not alone and it’s easy to fix. Here are six adjustments that will rock your forecast review meetings:
- Standardize the agenda, purpose and approach
- Model good and bad meetings
- Ask versus tell
- Make requests, promises and agreements
- Transfer meeting ownership to the salesperson
- Inspect what you expect
Download this guide for more detail on how to implement this proven structure and customize for your environment. And if you’d like to continue this effort to improve other processes, you can download the entire set of Sales Manager Guides including:
- Retain and Grow Key Accounts
- Build and Execute a Territory Action Plan
- Qualify and Execute Multi-Stage Sales Cycles
- Produce an Accurate and Reliable Forecast
I hope you find these guides helpful in putting more formalized sales activities in your organization. We’re sure that you will see improvements in your team’s sales performance as a result of implementing a formal approach, cadence, and agenda. And since your reps will ultimately see an improvement in their performance, I’m pretty sure they’ll love you for it.
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