Courtesy of TopOPPS
Jim Eberlin, Founder & CEO
The recipe to ensure a consistent and
rigorous sales process that dramatically
improves sales performance.
Do you remember the pressures to maximize value as you were
growing up? I had an awesome dad, and one of the many things I
admired about him was his ability to maximize the value of anything we
bought, acquired, or were given. He’d always instruct me when I left
money on the table, paid too much or didn’t get enough value out of
something. He would never just throw something out or let it
deteriorate, he would fix it and enhance it so that it worked as
advertised or better.
Now, I apply those same principals to our sales organization.
Everything we have in our sales organization has to be working “better”
than advertised. And of course that applies to our sales process, which
I believe many companies neglect without knowing there’s a better
So, in the same spirit of good ol’ dad, I’m going to first tell you how
much money you could be losing by not having a formal, rigorous
sales process supported by the right kind of automation. Then I will
give you a recipe for maximizing the value of your sales process that is
proven by research and actual customer use cases. So, you’ll have a
better and more organized sales organization and you’ll grow
I had an awesome dad, and one of the
many things I admired about him was his
ability to maximize the value of anything
we bought, acquired, or were given.
According to the research study of 9,000 companies by CSO Insights,
only 48% of sales reps hit quota due to an informal sales process. Now,
let’s translate that into dollars. If only half of your team is hitting quota,
and let’s use a quota of $800,000 per rep per year for perspective, that
means you’re losing $400,000 per rep. So, if you have 10 reps, that
means a loss of $4 million. Do your own math – but any way you look at
it, an informal sales process is costing you a lot of money. By
implementing a formal process, quota achievement increases to over
60% of the team, and if you add supporting automation on top of that, it
will increase an additional 10% or higher and save a ton of time.
So, what does an informal sales process look like? Here’s how you can
tell if you have one.
If you have a report that you use for your
pipeline reviews or 1:1s that looks like this,
chances are that you have an informal process.
Even if you have that powerpoint slide with
stage descriptions pinned to your cubicle wall,
it’s still pretty informal. Having stages with
weighted percentages is not formal – it’s a
subjective status of opportunities that could be
all over the place. The conservative reps
(sand-baggers) will have everything in stage
one, if they recorded it at all, until their gut
says they can put it in commit. The overly
positive reps (happy ears) will have a lot of
opportunities in later stage that don’t belong.
With this inconsistent sales process, you don’t
have a good definition that’s clear, where
everyone from management to sales rep
knows where a deal belongs. This makes it
impossible for management to use data to
help develop reps or to get a grasp on whether
the number is going to be met.
Hopefully I’ve proven that you need a formal sales process – so what
does that look like? Overall you need consistency so that everyone is
doing the same thing, everyone knows where deals belong. From this,
deal conversions, advancements and regressions can be measured
while pipeline and forecasts will be accurate and useful.
A formal and rigorous sales process will make this happen. You’ll need
the following recipe that we will describe more fully in this article:
Methodology - A structured plan to educate a qualified prospect
on the problems, priorities, reasons for change and guidance to
help their selling activities.
Buyer/Seller Journey - Listing all stages and activities that need
to occur, and naturally occur, that fit the buyers and the sellers.
Automation – Additional CRM automation that “intelligently
reminds” sales reps for sales process enforcement and hygiene -
so the reps have an easier way to update the CRM through
advanced automation, rather than the traditional way.
Additionally you’ll need the proper analytics that help predict,
forecast and coach.
The first of the 3 criteria in a formal process is methodology. At
TopOPPS we inject a lot of the Challenger Sale and Challenger Customer
methodology into the process. We like the teaching and guidance of
the first book so that our prospects understand the value TopOPPS
provides of artificial intelligence for sales forecasting, pipeline
management and sales process enforcement along with simplified CRM
updates. You can’t just “lead with” these benefits, you have to “lead to”
these benefits. Otherwise, the prospect may not see the problem as
worth changing. So, in order to break the framework of their current way
of thinking, you have to prove that you are a pain-killer to a prioritized
problem and not just a vitamin. Sell change, then solution.
The next part of the Challenger Customer methodology that we
incorporate into our process is finding and identifying the buying team.
CEB says that there is an average of 5.4 members to every buying team
that are required to make a decision. We need to find these members,
identify them and win over the mobilizers (especially the teachers) to
promote the product within the group.
And finally, we utilize these mobilizers to build consensus within the
group, arming them with enough information to overcome objections
and guide the group with “what to do” instead of just selecting the best
vendor on price. These mobilizers are better at winning consensus and
circumventing dysfunction with the group than the sales rep.
Stages are created based on both how the buyer buys and how the
seller guides. Research from the CEB shows that buying groups typically
reach out to a vendor after 57% of their evaluation process is complete
or later. If the group is left on their own, there is a high probability that
they end up in a stalemate or select a vendor based on price.
The process is tailored based on the mobilizer (the book calls them
teachers, skeptics, and the go-getter) and arming them with the ability to
overcome objections and win consensus. There must be a convergence
of the buying group and the change is driven by the mobilizer.
Below is the sales process TopOPPS follows. Milestones and activities
within these stages are designed to change the mental model, build
consensus, tailor for a convergence of the buying team to make a
decision – driven by the mobilizer. We map out the activities of the
seller and what the buyer does in each stage.
Without good data, there’s no direction. No good information for
conversations between a manager and a sales rep. Forecasts become
more of a gut feel – and no one can predict accurately or get early
warnings from a lack of pipeline. Teams can’t develop, processes can’t
improve – and there’s a lack of visibility.
Just having a CRM is not going to provide the fullness of a predictive
forecast and insights into the pipeline and analytics. Automation has to
go beyond standard CRM features and provide the following:
Predictive sales forecast
Predictive pipeline insights and ease of visibility
Sales process enforcement – so all leads and opportunities adhere
to the proper stage
Pipeline hygiene for clean and accurate data
Simplified CRM updates – so reps don’t have to spend much time
in the CRM
Analytics must include conversion rate
information so that stages can be identified
where deals fall out and sales reps can be
coached on how to better advance deals -
increasing the conversion win rate. See
example below that shows a sales funnel with
stages of leads and opportunities. The
example shows stages starting with Sales
Qualified Leads (SQL), Sales Accepted Leads
(SAL), where a rep will accept a lead, then it
advances to Qualification to Compelling Need
and so on.
For more information on how TopOPPS provides
accurate sales forecasts, pipeline and opportunity
management, sales process enforcement, CRM
hygiene and simplified pipeline updates, please
request a demo.
All of this can be provided by adding TopOPPS to
your CRM. By following this recipe for a formal and
rigorous process, you can maximize the value of your
sales process, making it consistent and predictive,
while ramping reps sooner and plugging the holes
where you are losing millions of dollars. This will
make good ol’ dad proud of you!!