What goes up must come down, right? Not in sales. Teams are asked to reach aggressive goals. When they hit them, the reward is — wait for it — even higher goals in the next year. So, how can you escape Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity? You have to tap into an even greater force: the power to evolve your sales process.
You’re probably wondering, why fix my sales process if it’s not broken? It’s really not about “fixing” at all. It’s more about growing and building your sales team, so they are equipped with the tools they need to succeed.
In fact, as a best practice, you should revisit and refine your sales model at least twice per year — and just accept that this process is never truly finished. Let’s flash back to our school years. Jumping immediately into a 301 class wouldn’t set you up for success. You need to start with the basics and then grow from there. 101 leads to 201 leads to 301 (and so on).
The same rule applies to your sales team. Helping your team become more productive and, as a result, more effectively boost your bottom line is a journey. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll arrive at your end goal.
As you begin this journey to evolve your sales process, be sure to keep these five steps in mind:
1. Let Reps Focus on Selling
How common it is for companies to actually grow year over year? Salesforce conducts a large yearly study called the State of Sales Report. We’ve learned that 69% of companies remain flat year over year. Only about 24% experience significant growth.
What drives this? High-growth companies always build efficiencies into their sales process. They’re quick to cut out the middleman and to minimize the need for multiple approvals, quotes, and legal sign offs. These companies give their reps back the time they need to build customer relationships and become trusted advisors (which is what sales reps want to do anyway).
2. Understand Trends in the Buyer’s Market
“Among the many factors driving the increase in virtual selling, buyer preference stands out. Buyers are digital-first and don’t feel the need for face-to-face communication.”
– Trish Bertuzzi, President and Chief Strategist, The Bridge Group
Customer meetings are always good, right? Not always. Especially if you end up talking to the wrong person about the wrong topic. Thriving teams know how to take a step back, look at all their account data, use AI to compare it against a dynamic model, and tease out the right next step to close deals. In other words, they’ve got the tools, data, and insights to get the right meeting with the right person all the time. And they’ve set up a process that makes it all routine.
This includes achieving operational excellence with everyday interactions, too. Plugging CRM data into your email system can turn sales reps into productive powerhouses — even when they’re not face-to-face with customers.
3. Get Marketing and Sales Teams on the Same Page
Growth-focused companies understand the value of marketing and sales teams working in tandem. Why? Because they don’t believe in siloes. They tear down the wall between sales and marketing — and keep it down forever. When both teams share one source of truth. Leads arrive on time — and in context — so reps know who to call first. Marketers can also refine lead gen efforts on the fly with the help of real-time customer insights from sales. It’s a win-win across the board.
Reps also need an easier way to nurture lower-priority leads. A copy/paste experience doesn’t cut it anymore, nor will those blanket newsletters move the needle. Impersonal communications have a greater chance of being deleted and may actually work against your brand. Instead, by knowing what communications your customers have interacted with in the past, you can be smart about your approach to their buying journey and engage them in a much more personalized way. Closer alignment between sales and marketing is key to making this happen.
4. Get Smart, Get Predictive
Seventy percent of the most successful companies leverage sales analytics and intelligent forecasting, according to the State of Sales Report. They have a built-in process for leveraging the knowledge of today to be successful tomorrow. This includes knowing how to land on target and convert a pipeline to forecast with reliably low variance. Instead of being caught off guard, they rely on data and insights to make every step of the sales process more efficient and effective.
Unlock past experience and applying to future business. I know everyone in here wishes they could get that time back for reps and have them spend less time on admin tasks. On average, 64% of a rep’s time is spent doing non-selling tasks. “I know I want that time given back to my reps!”
5. Tap Into Your Partner Network
Building out your partner channel is a powerful way to scale business growth and success. However, channel partners, like your customers, have a lot of choices. By similarly personalizing every touchpoint you have with them, you create a frictionless experiences that makes it easier for them to work with — and sell on behalf of — your business. This will make them far more likely to do “binge selling” for you instead of for a competitor. And you can achieve this with clicks — not code. You just need a simple, ongoing way to share data with partners. This will ensure that you’re all on the same page. Supporting indirect sales through your partner network can actually become the evolutionary leap you’ve been waiting for — especially in those times when you start to see growth flat line.
The Never-Ending Story of Sales Evolution
Your company’s products may be great now — and they may be even better tomorrow — but they’re never going to sell themselves. What will move them, however, is a sales process that evolves as your business grows and supports every effort to land the right meeting with the right person, every time.
And even though evolution can feel a bit like an ebb and flow, the effort behind it needs to be always on. There should never be a moment when you or your team isn’t looking for new ways to refine your sales process to meet — and exceed — your customers’ needs. Practice this long-game strategy enough, and you’ll make winning look even easier (than you already do now).