Be honest. How much time are you wasting?
If the answer is anything other than “zero” then it’s too much.
That’s the thing with sales. We’ve all been there. Despite the best intentions and the best laid plans, there’s always too much time spent doing other stuff.
With constant pressure on to close deals, fill your pipeline and convert leads faster – there’s undoubtedly some unnecessary admin thrown in to make the juggling act even more challenging.
In a time of technology, data and analytics it seems almost unfathomable to break the trend and simplify your sales process, but for better results and less time spent on admin that’s exactly what you should do.
The 3 Most Common Sales Process Problems
1. Focusing on the wrong things
Almost every sales pro has been here. Management wants more sales and more dollars, which means harvesting more leads and creating more opportunities. But a sales process that simply drives more numbers won’t drive to you find and maximise the best leads.
Instead, the best sales process should be helping to prioritise the right activities to find the best leads. Get the cold leads out of your pipeline fast and accelerate the hot ones.
Spreading yourself too thin across too many leads and opportunities can be made to look good in a sales meeting but will be stressful to manage properly won’t lead to peak performance. Focusing on the right activities will lead to better results.
Your sales process needs to be structured to simplify how sales opportunities are handled and allow reps to focus on doing the right activity at the right time. Not overburden them with an outcome focus.
2. The team is stretched and stressed
You need to hit your numbers or you don’t get paid. That’s what selling boils down to.
Let’s not pretend that a sales process can remove this pressure completely, there’s always going to be a race to hit targets, but the race can be a whole lot more enjoyable if you’re running it without a stone in your shoe.
Your sales process should help you prevent pressure from turning into stress, as this can quickly become detrimental to the health of your team. This will seriously affect your performance, having a direct impact on results.
If you put in place complicated processes and tasks, they’ll either be followed incorrectly or ignored.
Pressured salespeople don’t have time to get their head around something they a) don’t fully understand and b) probably don’t believe in.
They can usually judge when a process has been put in place as a reporting-purpose over their own needs and they’ll usually find ways to get around it.
3. You can’t settle on a clear and defined strategy
Unfortunately, so many sales tools are actually built for managers and not for the people doing the work. And if there isn’t a perceived quick win then let’s change the technology. We need more X so let’s try Y. I’ve heard company Z is doing this so we should too.
Most CRM’s nowadays have hundreds of features with many more add-ons or possible customisations. You can extract endless streams of data if you so desire.
But all the admin work is such a time-consuming chore for a sales rep who is trying to focus on closing deals and hitting their numbers.
If you don’t simplify your reporting, you’ll quickly get stuck in the weeds wading through a swamp of meaningless data.
By too often changing sales strategy, going after the wrong leads, or neglecting hot leads while you try to fill up your pipeline – chaos will reign, stress levels will rise, and time will be wasted. This is when sales gets hard.
Activity-Based Selling Will Simplify Your Sales Process
As much as we all wish it were possible, you can’t control sales outcomes by focusing on selling more. You can’t control exactly what comes out of your pipeline (as in $$) but you can control the things you do that helps stack the odds in your favour. The activities. The things that give you a better chance of identifying a hot lead, an ideal target customer, and focusing on the things you do best to take them through the sales journey.
It’s easier too. Focusing on an activity that you can 100% control versus an outcome you can’t is far less stressful and healthier to manage.
“Selling” in itself means two things – the actions you take throughout the process with your prospects AND the closing of the deal.
An activity-based selling approach prompts you to trust the actions you’re taking, operating with the knowledge that you will achieve better results by completing key steps and repeating these same steps with all your prospects.
Developing an awesome sales process is therefore not about focusing on results – but trusting they will come if you complete the right tasks at the right time.
By simplifying your sales process and focusing on your highest priority actions at each stage of your sales pipeline – you’re quickly making things much easier for your team. This builds confidence into your team and this ability to trust in a process reduces their stress levels.
Simple and measurable KPIs – the Key for a Good Simple Sales Process
Simplicity is vital to establish the right sales process. Equally, ignoring unnecessary data and reporting, and developing just a few core KPIs to measure success.
Specifically, start by looking at the following metrics:
- The overall number of deals in your pipeline
- The average size of the deals in your pipeline
- Your close ratio – the average percentage of deals closed
- The average time it takes to close a deal (sometimes called sales velocity)
With this info you can build a structured and simplified sales process.
Focusing on the “right” leads
One of the biggest time wasters is missing the best leads because you’re spread too thin.
With the right structured sales process, dead leads should become a thing of the past.
By analysing your past customers and developing insights as to why they are so valuable you can begin to build a picture of what your ideal customers look like.
Then you can filter these insights into a structured lead qualification template at each stage of your pipeline to make sure you spend most time focusing on the leads that fit your ideal customer profile.
Poor-fit leads won’t be ignored completely – just in case there’s a hidden gem in there – but they won’t get the same attention. Eventually you move to a place where cold leads are constantly traded for hot leads and sales reps will have more time to focus on nurturing the right prospects.
Automate admin to find time wherever possible
When developing a sales process, the last thing anyone wants to do is manually research and gather lots of data and background information. That time should be spent selling.
Most CRM’s now come with features or plugins that means this vital information can be gathered automatically. If not, then 3rd party apps like Zapier can also allow you to automate almost any manual admin task in your sales process to free up your time to focus on closing deals.The right automation tech can be a critical enabler for a simple, structured and strategic sales process.
Just Dive In
With a simple and structured sales process, you’ll have the clarity to understand which activity to take next at any given time – knowing the outcome you take will be the best possible, based on what has worked before.
By simplifying your KPIs you can remove so much admin from your routine and accurately forecast and report without getting lost in the numbers – a modern curse of many of today’s sales teams.
A simple, structured process will allow managers to quickly assess performance and pinpoint weakness or problem areas easily, clearly and consistently. Better yet, they can then coach the rep on the activity not just look at each other saying “the numbers aren’t good enough”.
Even better – sales reps will have one clear focus at any given time. An activity based selling approach will remove the noise and stress and give you confidence in your ability to hit targets as long as you follow the simplified sales process.
By knowing who your ideal customers are and establishing the right process to find, qualify and close leads, the quality of your results has to increase.
Still wasting too much time? Hopefully not!