How to view sales as a Production process vs. an Art form and work through process improvements
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Sales is often viewed as an art form, with each salesperson bringing their unique style and approach to the table. However, viewing sales through a production process lens can help sales teams quickly identify and work through process improvements to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Identifying the Sales Process
The first step to viewing sales as a production process is identifying the sales process. This involves breaking down the sales cycle into individual stages, from prospecting to closing the deal. Each stage should have a clear set of inputs, outputs, and activities that are required to move the prospect through the sales cycle. Here are some best practices around sales process and documentation:
- Standardization: Standardize the sales process and document it in a clear and concise manner. This helps ensure consistency and provides a roadmap for sales reps to follow.
- Clarity: Use simple and easy-to-understand language to explain the sales process and document the steps involved. This helps avoid confusion and misinterpretation.
- Accessibility: Make sure the sales process and associated documentation are easily accessible to all sales reps. This can be achieved by storing them in a shared folder or using a cloud-based platform.
- Update regularly: Sales processes and documentation should be updated regularly to ensure they remain relevant and up-to-date. This is particularly important when there are changes to products, markets, or customer needs.
- Use visuals: Use flowcharts, diagrams, and other visuals to help explain the sales process and make it easier for sales reps to understand.
- Involve the sales team: Involve the sales team in the development and review of the sales process and documentation. This helps ensure buy-in and encourages adoption.
- Measure and track: Measure and track the effectiveness of the sales process and associated documentation. Use this information to identify areas for improvement and refine the process over time.
Analyzing the Sales Process
Once the sales process has been identified, it's time to analyze it to identify areas for improvement. This involves looking at each stage of the sales cycle and identifying any bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or areas where the process can be streamlined. This analysis should also include a review of sales data, such as conversion rates, win/loss rates, and average deal size. Here are some best practices for analyzing the sales process:
- Identify the key stages: Start by identifying the key stages of your sales process. This can help you understand where deals tend to get stuck or lost and focus your efforts on those areas.
- Measure key metrics: Measure key metrics at each stage of the sales process, such as conversion rates and sales cycle length. This can help you identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement.
- Analyze your data: Use your data to identify trends and patterns. For example, are there certain types of leads that are more likely to convert? Are there certain stages of the sales process where deals tend to get stuck?
- Get feedback from your team: Your sales team is on the front lines of the sales process and can provide valuable feedback. Ask them for input on how to improve the sales process and what obstacles they are encountering.
- Continuously iterate and improve: Use your analysis to make changes to your sales process and documentation. Continuously iterate and improve your process to optimize your results.
With a clear understanding of the sales process and areas for improvement, the next step is to make changes and improvements to the process. This can involve anything from changing how leads are generated to implementing new sales technologies or tools. It's important to involve the sales team in the process and get their feedback on what changes are needed to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Here are some best practices for making sales process improvements:
- Analyze the data: Use data and metrics to identify areas of the sales process that need improvement. Look at sales data, customer feedback, and other relevant metrics to gain insights into how the sales process is performing.
- Engage the team: Involve the sales team in the process improvement effort. Solicit feedback from sales reps and managers, and use their insights to identify areas for improvement.
- Prioritize improvements: Prioritize the improvements that will have the greatest impact on sales performance. Focus on the areas of the sales process that are most critical to success and that will deliver the most significant improvements.
- Define the changes: Clearly define the changes that need to be made to the sales process. Develop a plan that outlines the specific changes that will be made, and communicate this plan to the sales team.
- Test and refine: Test the changes to the sales process in a controlled environment, and refine the process as needed. Make adjustments based on feedback from the sales team and the results of the testing.
- Provide training and support: Provide training and support to the sales team to help them adapt to the changes in the sales process. Make sure that everyone understands the new process and has the skills and tools needed to be successful.
- Monitor progress: Monitor progress and measure the impact of the process improvements. Use data and metrics to track the effectiveness of the new process and identify any areas that need further improvement.
Finally, it's important to measure the success of any process improvements to ensure that they are having the desired impact. This involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as conversion rates, win/loss rates, and average deal size to determine if the changes are improving sales performance. Regular monitoring and analysis of these metrics can help sales teams identify areas that need further improvement. Here are some best practices for measuring the success of sales process improvements:
- Set clear goals and metrics: Before making any process improvements, it's important to define clear goals and metrics to measure success. This will help you track progress and determine if the changes are having the desired impact.
- Use data to track progress: Collect data on key metrics related to your sales processes, such as conversion rates, sales cycle length, and deal size. This data can be used to identify areas of improvement and track progress over time.
- Conduct A/B testing: A/B testing is a method of comparing two versions of a process to see which one performs better. By testing different approaches to your sales process, you can identify what works best and make data-driven decisions about which changes to implement.
- Solicit feedback from stakeholders: Gather feedback from sales reps, managers, and customers to get a well-rounded view of how the sales process is working. This feedback can help you identify pain points and areas for improvement that may not be apparent from the data alone.
- Regularly review and adjust: The sales process is not a static entity, and it's important to regularly review and adjust it based on changes in the market, customer needs, and internal processes. By continuously monitoring and adjusting the sales process, you can ensure that it remains effective and efficient over time.
Viewing sales as a production process can help sales teams identify areas for improvement and implement changes to improve efficiency and effectiveness. By breaking down the sales cycle into its individual stages, analyzing the process, making improvements, and measuring success, sales teams can continually optimize the process to drive better results. When you start to follow the outline above, you will shift the sales team's views from art to production and start selling smarter.