2 TOP reasons why sales processes rarely work
THE FAILURE AND END OF SALES PROCESSES AS WE KNOW THEM
We’ve all heard stories of companies and people who have came up with ”THE” sales process. The new sales process X that’s going to deliver staggering return on investments.
Yet, what most “process-inventors” keep quite about and what few companies question, are the stories of companies that have invested tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in a sales process but have little to show for it, except a frustrated sales team, a boatload of process/training manuals that no one reads or even knows where to find.
You might have got some new buzzwords and a fresh sales jargon and maybe even a few good memories of a funny night with some external sales trainer who told some really funny jokes…
THE ACTIVITY ITSELF MORE IMPORTANT THAN IN THE ORDER THE ACTIVITIES ARE PERFORMED
Have you ever been told that you’re not following “the process”? Have you ever felt as your boss does not understand you, or even tries to understand you? Have you ever felt as your customers are acting like your process indicates how they should act?
There is a probable reason for that, it is simple yet never the less hard to identify, and perhaps more importantly; hard to prevent.
The reason why processes within sales rarely works is because processes only work when the steps in the process, are 100 percent in control of yourself and not dependant of external factors that do not share your process goal to 100 %, like a potential customer.
“PROCESSES ARE GOOD FOR THE PRODUCTION LINE OF TOYOTA, NOT FOR THEIR SALES DEPARTMENT”
Sales is about feelings and people making buying-decisions, which they most often base on what they feel. Therefore, it is vital to understand how you cannot manage people, you can manage things however when it comes to people, you lead and you guide them.
There is a really good book on this topic, we highly recommend you to read “The Servant” by James C. Hunter. In sales it is all about leading the customer through a pre-set number of activities, like a sales process.
Wait! Didn’t we just say sales processes are”bad”… Well… Processes are good when you or your organization are in full control of all steps – and the outcome of the steps – in your process, i.e. delivery processes, support processes, manufacturing processes.
In sales you literally cannot be in control of every step, simply because what was just stated about managing vs. guiding people. This is why the activities a sales person performs are much more important and much more crucial to focus on.
Focus on results and it gets done, focus on something else, and chances are you’ll get stuck or take an unnecessary detour. When sales processes do succeed it is often more a result of random chance, where the customer purchase process aligns with your sales process.
That happens, of course, yet shouldn’t be trusted as a pattern of success. Believe in being in control of the situation and increase the probability of success. Look for the conclusion where the activities are important to focus on, without giving much emphasis to what order they’re performed in.
One other reason why sales processes rarely work and why sales people find it hard to successfully follow a process, is that there is an built-in paradox.
The best sales people are Influencers and very creative people. They are Dominant/result focused (In DISC I nd D), this means they do not appreciate being put in a box. On the contrary the people who like processes and fixed routines (In DISC C) are most often not suitable to be working in direct direct sales roles.
We have been thinking about this issue at Salesbox and conducted interviews over a thousand of sales rep, check this article if you want to know why most sales rep hates their CRM.
If this was common knowledge, chances are not all that many sales managers, directors and CEOs would keep on ”forcing” their sales staff to work in processes. Activity based selling is about focusing on getting the most out of a workday instead of following and applying processes for all client dialogues.
If you focus on the right tasks and activities, then you will increase your activity level. An increased activity level has been proven time after time to also increase sales and at the end of the day, even so improve your results.
SALES PROCESSES IN TRADITIONAL CRMs DOESN’T ALIGN WITH REALITY
Now, let’s look at the second however even more important issue with how we utilize sales processes in our CRMs. Are you as a company selling different products and services? Are you selling to different types of clients?
Do you sell to both private companies and public agencies and organizations such as municipalities? Are you even selling in different geographical markets? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, do you apply the same way of selling (sales process) in all of the given cases, regardless of what, to whom and where you are selling?
In that case you are not alone. Using the same sales method for the entire company is very common. It most often does not work very well and it suits more or less everyone equally badly. Despite that, we still keep on working like that, day in and day out, and never question whether it is possible to change.
Do you agree? It is like when a statistician speaks about the average person from different perspectives. Do you recognize yourself in those statistics? Guess not. We almost never do, with a few exceptions. That’s because the average person does not exist and that person’s behavior and needs are not the same as yours.
The biggest issue with most of the implemented sales processes is that the GAP between them and how it works in reality is to big. Then they won’t become a support, rather a burden that everyone tries to avoid.
”THE BIGGEST ISSUE WITH SALES PROCESSES IS THEIR GAP TO WHAT REALITY LOOKS LIKE”
Instead of using a general sales method with a giant GAP compared to reality, think about using sales methods that actually align with what you are selling, to whom you are selling and even where you are selling your services.
Selling a consultant service to a small private company is completely different to selling a complete technical solution to a large public agency. Still, in many cases we apply the same sales method.
What if you actually could use different sales methods for these cases? Do you think that would increase your chances of winning the deal? It would probably also enable more accurate forecast reports, right?
“WORK METHODS THAT ALIGN WITH REALITY INCREASE YOUR CONTROL AND BUSINESS!”
General sales processes lower the quality of your forecasts and create unnecessary extra work! No one knows how they work, and the documentation is rarely read or even found. No one have complete control of how much have been done and what is left, on each single opportunity.
The sales reps. and directors are doing more or less qualified guessing.
So why is it like this? There are several reasons, but one is that most traditional CRM systems only support one general sales method. It’s like a doctor giving every patient the same medicine, regardless of what illness the individual patient has.
Back in the 19th century that actually did happen – people travelled from town to town selling wonder drinks that claimed to cure any condition that the individuals in the audience had.
In the 21st century we know there is no wonder drink that cures us. Still, in areas such as sales we still accept similar wonder cures to diverse problems.
HOW TO GET TOOLS THAT REDUCE THE GAP BETWEEN PROCESS AND REALITY TO ZERO?
If you want your sales department to stop guessing and to get control of your business, it is relevant to ask your CRM provider whether they support individualized sales methods. Just saying… Some CRM providers will come back to you and say, “YES we do! With a modern CRM you can design your own sales methods.
You should also ask “can we implement several sales methods and have them active in parallel? Will we also be able to choose which method to use for each individual opportunity?”
When answering those questions, most CRM providers fall short, and you will get a lot of mumbled and dodging answers. That’s probably because they cannot support multiple sales methods and give the salesperson the choice to pick the most suitable sales method for each opportunity.
These are all important functions to increase your flexibility! A modern CRM should let you:
- Create your own unique sales methods that fit what, to whom and where you are selling.
- Choose which sales method to use when creating a new opportunity.
- Let you stop guessing and automatically manage your opportunity progress.
- Have multiple sales methods in parallel that feed the same forecast report.
SELECT THE RIGHT PROCESS FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL OPPORTUNITY
Using an intelligent and flexible CRM it is possible to pick a unique sales method for each opportunity. A modern CRM gives you the opportunity to work in the best possible way reflecting back on your opportunities.
It gives you as a manager or director the most accurate forecast reports possible, regardless of what, to whom or where your company is selling.
A modern and flexible CRM also gives you the ability to keep track of how many appointments a particular method steps require, what percentage your opportunity should increase with when checking each method step, which behavioral profile (DISC) is most suitable to perform each step in the method and, of course, what to actually do in each step of the method.
“INTELLIGENT PROCESSES ADAPTS BY THEMSELVES AND ENCOURAGE SUCCESSFUL BEHAVIOR”
On top of these functions you might also want to look for adaptive and intelligent processes. Processes that actually learn your company’s performance. The number of appointments and the most suitable behavior over time, as you start closing deals.
A modern CRM should check your successful behavior and adapt to it, so that you can continue doing more of the things that brought you success.
With process management like that your company gets control, accurate forecasts and at the same time all working with opportunities will finally get support from a process rather than feeling it is an administrative and bureaucratic burden.
With process management like this your company gets to focus on the important things and grow the business. Let’s just put it like this, if you want to be successful, get a CRM that supports individualized sales processes that don’t force your users to do the activities in a predefined order.
It’s your call!