“Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.” –A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
Once you have the greatest incentive plan, processes, and sales training in place, it’s so important to measure your efforts. You might have the best of everything, but without a way to gauge how well it’s working or what needs to be adjusted, you’re driving blind.
I’m about to share actionable ways to make the most out of your efforts by putting the right tools and processes in place. By doing so, you will gain a strategic view into your sales operations and performance, and be able to take your business to the next level.
Better Forecast Where Sales Will Land
If you don’t know where sales are tracking today, this week, or this quarter, you can’t effectively manage to the set goals. You’re literally driving blind, and that’s not good for anyone. This lack of visibility also means you might not be able to see which sales reps are in good shape to hit their quotas, and which are struggling. It’s really challenging to lead a team when you have to trust them to bring issues forward. It’s hard to admit you’re not performing well. No one wants to have to do that. By putting automated tools in place to deliver real-time tracking by individual and team, you can start to proactively help your team stay on track to achieve sales goals. These tools might include a business management platform, like ConnectWise, paired with a quote and proposal automation solution, like Quosal, to track, guide, and streamline the sales process from inception to completion.
Create & Automate Sales Processes
In order to make your sales team as effective as possible, you’ll want to create a guided approach to selling. This process should include steps that help reps avoid common selling pitfalls—like not following up on time, forgetting to send a quote, failing to include terms and conditions, and underquoting your services. A sales manager’s least favorite question is ‘where are we with this deal?’ They don’t like having to ask their sales people for updates. And the sales reps don’t like being questioned either. That’s why companies buy a customer relationship management tool (CRM); it creates accountability. With a system that notes every activity as it’s performed, no one has to ask for updates anymore. They can just check the system. It eliminates the guesswork, saves time, and makes everyone happier. Part of the selling process should include identifying how customers typically buy from you. Don’t be surprised if a managed services deal is consumed differently than a onetime installation or integration. It all depends on what you’re selling. Every solution has a unique buying cycle. Certainly, there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, you’re not going to run into a prospect who is ready to buy immediately.
Look at past sales successes. What actions preceded sales? Many successful sales processes include a mix of the following activities:
1. Discovery call 2. On-site meeting 3. Demonstration 4. Quote delivery 5. Follow-up 6. Close
Once you’ve identified your steps in the process, you can make your team accountable for placing the opportunity in the right step, and systematically moving it along the sales cycle. And you’ll give managers 360-degree insight into every step along the way.
With an automated process in place that pings your team when it’s time to perform the next step in the sales process, you’ll never have to worry about your team missing vital steps in the process. We’re human. We have a lot on our plates, get distracted, and forget important TO-DOs. And sales reps aren’t fans of documentation tasks. They’re a pain. By providing your team with easy processes (and tools to make them even easier), you’ll find it much easier to get them to document steps. It’s important to earn buy-in from your team. Explain the benefits and alternatives. Together, you can create processes everyone can agree on. Take the guesswork out of opportunities. Smart workflows keep your team members moving forward until opportunities are either won or lost.
Measure Each Stage of the Sales Cycle
What would you do if you found a certain step in your sales process was outdated and ineffective? You’d probably update or remove it. But if you’re not measuring or don’t have the tools in place to measure, you’ll never get to see what’s working, and you’ll never know which adjustments to make. The end goal of your sales process should be to shorten the sales cycle, close deals faster, increase profitability, and move opportunities forward more quickly. One way you can shorten stages of your sales cycle is by using a CRM, like the one inside the ConnectWise business management platform, to log key activities. This way, you can identify sales barriers, and start to brainstorm solutions.
How to Manage Your New Sales Process
A CRM will give you a 360° view into all of your company’s sales opportunities, activities, and goals. This gives you the benefit of being able to quickly identify and respond to areas that require improvement. Once you’ve got your hands on the data, act on it. Hold weekly sales meetings or daily huddles to review key stats. Use your CRM data to create real-time sales team performance dashboards—and forecasting dashboards based on historical trends. Deal with issues right away, instead of letting them take you by surprise weeks later. Build sales funnel reports that follow the opportunities moving along in your pipeline. For instance, show what percentage moves from the first stage to the second stage. This equips you to make more accurate sales forecasts.
How a Business Management Platform Benefits You
Sales doesn’t end with the dotted line. What if you could tie in your CRM and sales process with everything else in your business? A business management platform can help you achieve this by offering CRM, ticketing, projects, procurement, and invoicing functionality that works together. You gain visibility into every aspect of your sales process. Overdue activities and tickets appear in red, so you can easily get back up to speed simply by ‘getting the red out.’ That’s what your weekly sales meeting should seek to accomplish. This type of a platform even gives managers the ability to see what reps are working on (or ignoring), which makes it easy to see who is a high-impact employee and who may require more training or isn’t the right fit.
Managers can even assign leads to sales reps within a business management platform, giving reps the ability to see which leads they’re expected to work. And, managers can easily access and respond to prospect concerns when their reps are out of office. Serving as a centralized database for all customer information, a business management platform makes it easy for new reps to ramp up because it gives them access to any client’s entire history. ConnectWise does all this, plus offers top educational materials every step of the way as you implement your very own sales processes. You can use ConnectWise for every team within your technology company—Service Delivery, Project Management, Sales & Marketing, and Finance. It’s one integrated tool for every facet of your business.
A great sales process lays the foundation for scalability. Documented processes simplify the training and on-boarding process. So, as you add new sales team members, you’ll more quickly realize the benefit of their talents as they’ll be following best practices unique to the way you do business. Supercharge sales by adding automation tools like a business management platform or quote and proposal automation solution to drive efficiencies within your processes. By automating keys steps of your sales process, you’ll cut down on errors, and so much more.
In part 1, I explained what you need to have in place before hiring a sales team, then (in part 2) I explained how to effectively compensate sales reps.