CEO: Sales as an Art….Sales as a Process
As CEO, revenue is always on your mind. As your company grew you have seen some great salespeople. They were critically important in the early days and now it’s tough to find more like them. Stop looking! Building a consistent, highly performing sales organization is more about processes and management than it is finding the next superstar salesperson.
When I first started selling I admired the star salesperson. The confidence, the artful way they applied their craft, the perfect phrasing and the ability to handle objections effortlessly. The spectacle was just as impressive to watch as any great actor on stage. I dreamed of becoming THAT salesperson, and I did.
As my career progressed I began to manage others. My goal was to teach them the art of becoming a great salesperson. I tried hard and mostly failed. What I have learned is that there are many good salespeople out there, but very few great salespeople. I learned not to focus on managing the top 5%, but instead concentrate on managing the 80% that produce most of the revenue. This discovery allowed me to better manage the sales process.
The great Salespeople think sales is an art…The great Executives know sales is a process.
Sales is the process of moving a prospect through stages of a purchase, mapped to the mental process of a buyer. No matter how quickly their decision is made, the buyer still needs to: notice the product, be interested in what it might do, think through how they might use the product, decide if it’s a good product for them, and ultimately buy it. Whether it is a pack of gum at the checkout counter or an enterprise software solution, a mental process will always take place to get from Attention to Action.
The same is true of your sales process. Your salesperson guides a prospect through different steps designed to lead the potential buyer to take action and purchase your product. The key to managing the “good” 80% of your sales force is providing them with a structured sales process, which is consistent and measurable. The key measurements for the sales process are the time each stage takes and the dropout rate for each stage. Once you know these, you can manage each salesperson to a standard, spot training needs and better forecast revenue.
Keys to Success;
- Define the entry and exit points for each step in the sales process
- Measure the average time it takes for a prospect to move through each step
- Measure the dropout rate in each step
- Compare each salesperson’s time in a step and dropout rates
- Work backwards: Understand the quantity of qualified deals needed in each stage to have sufficient prospects in order to make quota.
For greater revenue, more consistent performance and getting more salespeople on target, implement and maintain a good sales process. Great executives know that the process must be repeatable, teachable and measurable in order to deliver the greatest gains.