Salespeople love to complain about sales process. It limits their creativity, ties them down to reporting activities, and serves as yet another way for management to judge them. In short, they think, it’s a painful waste of their time.
And the truth is, in many cases, they’re right. Sales process is not always everything it’s cracked up to be. In an article titled “Is Your Sales Process Lying to You?” published on the SiriusDecisions blog, author Steve Silver suggests that even a process that is supposedly mapped to the customer’s journey can be virtually useless in the real world.
The problem, he says, is that even a well-designed sales process usually takes a linear, step-by-step approach that doesn’t align with what actually happens in most sales cases, especially in a complex environment. Silver lists three things that these linear processes don’t account for:
- Multiple buyers. Most complex B2B purchases involve anywhere from three to six or more buyers and influences, and “each individual progresses through the decision-making process at their own speed, based on their own set of influences and interactions.”
- Actual buyer behavior. Silver points out that buyers rarely move through the buying process in a linear fashion. They move through multiple sources of information, contact points with salespeople, and their own internal processes, each according to their own needs and motivations.
- Varying opportunity types. Within any given company, various offerings will attract buyers with differing needs, and buyers may contact salespeople at different points of their buying journey. A single, linear buying process doesn’t take into account the fact that some opportunities will move quickly, while others may take months or years, and that any given sale may begin at any point along the buyer’s journey.
It’s tempting to think that the answer to this many-fingered problem is multiple processes to address every possible situation. Unfortunately, such a system is prohibitively complex to build, and would be obsolete as soon as it was created. A better solution is the dynamic sales process.
In a dynamic sales process, multiple playbooks and sales paths arise based on information about the buyer.
What is a dynamic sales process?
A dynamic sales process is an iterative system in which salespeople and their managers continuously monitor and analyze what they’re doing, what’s working, and what factors most impact outcomes. In such a system, multiple playbooks and sales paths arise naturally based on feedback regarding what works under what conditions.
How do you build a dynamic sales process?
A properly designed dynamic sales system readily addresses the problems of a linear sales process as identified by Silver. Designing one begins by tracking and measuring the right metrics. Begin by looking at the three problems identified by Silver, and tracking data related to each one.
- Multiple buyers
The system must be set up to track and identify decision makers and influencers on each sale, along with what actions the salesperson takes in regard to each, and their attitude toward the sale. This allows the process to adapt based on the number of buyers, where each one is in the sales process, and how they feel about it.
- Buyer behavior
It’s also important that the system track not only seller behavior, but also buyer behavior. What buyers read, the questions they ask, response time on inquiries—all of these and more create a picture of the buyer’s attitude and needs. Over time, a dynamic system uses these clues to adapt the process to best meet the buyer’s actual behavior in any given situation.
- Varying opportunity types
A well-designed dynamic system monitors opportunity types, including factors such as how far along the buyer is in their process at the point of contact, whether the buyer or seller made first contact, the potential size of the sale, and the type of solution to solve their needs and ambitions. This information is then analyzed and the process adapted to drive the steps and activities most likely to successfully close opportunities.
Of course, a dynamic sales process requires robust tools and software. The technology must be capable of tracking sales through the entire process, capturing all relevant data points, and adapting continuously to lessons learned. Many traditional CRMs are not built for the dynamic sales process, though they can be adapted to it, to some degree. Newer tools, such as Membrain, are purpose-built for the dynamic sales process, with all the necessary capability baked in. Some of them, including Membrain, can be used in concert with the existing CRM to get the benefits of the dynamic process without the expense and risk of scrapping an existing CRM system, or can be used independently as a stand-alone CRM focused on sales effectiveness instead of just building an information graveyard.
Feel free to contact me to not just create an effective sales process, but to make it easy to follow and improve upon in daily operations.
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