Average salespeople – and about 80 percent of any company’s sales force is average – can consistently produce above average results when a sales process is in place, says Keith Eades, president of Sales Performance International and author of The New Solution Selling (McGraw Hill, 2004).
Unfortunately, 60 percent of salespeople and the companies they work for do not utilize a common sales process, which Eades describes as a series of defined, repeatable steps intended to achieve a result. A sales process defines and documents those end-to-end steps that lead to increased sales productivity.
“A good sales process allows you to identify, analyze, qualify and measure opportunities and then determine the next step in selling,” he says.
When this systematic series of defined, repeatable steps exists, coaching can occur and you can help salespeople consistently achieve – indeed, exceed – expected outcomes. SPI’s research indicates that both individual and company-wide sales performance can realize as much as a 15 percent increase when a formal sales process is implemented.
“Good sales managers understand that sustained and continued performance is based on repeatable activities,” Eades says. “A good sales process should reflect how your buyers buy rather than how the salespeople want to sell.”
Upon realizing how critical effective management is to the sales process, SPI developed the essential sales management system as well. It is used to monitor, manage and maintain the integrity of the sales process. The five key elements included in a sales process:
- The customer’s buying process
- Selling steps that align with that buying process
- Verifiable outcomes that let the salespeople know if they’ve been successful at each selling step
- Job aids and tools that facilitate each selling step
- A management system that measures and reinforces the process and also determines the probability of success.