Implementing a best practice sales process has a positive effect on win rates, forecast accuracy, and productivity per sales person. This is especially true for companies with expansion strategies. But, a sales process is only as effective as the sales people’s adoption of it.
Is getting your salespeople to change their processes like trying to get a 2-year-old to eat his broccoli? You are not alone.
Even if it’s obvious the current processes are time-consuming, costly, and unproductive, it’s difficult to successfully motivate salespeople to implement new ways of performing.
I remember, during the addition of our first CRM, thinking “Wow, when am I going to have time to note all this information into this platform. It’s going to be a nightmare!”
Let’s talk about how to make that happen.
We partnered with our clients on building a gameplay for successfully implementing a sales methodology using iSEEit as opportunity management.
#1: Get leadership buy-in first.
Implementing a new sales process means your sales team must change the way they do things. The new behavior takes time to become a second nature, and easily loses steam and veers off track if sales feels there are too many obstacles in changing, or the changes are perceived as too cumbersome.
Many times we hear the complaint that sales people go back to their old ways after being back in the field. We can all agree it’s definitely different out in the field than in a classroom environment during kick off or training.
Back in the field there will be many questions, uncertainties and doubts while implementing the new learned sales process. Clients might not be willing to accept some of the sales process items, which will lead into sales people doing short cuts, objecting that “the new sales process” does not work.
Solution: We have seen teams picking up quickly and smashing their forecasts and others not benefiting at all. The key difference was the manager.
Make sure your first line managers are fully bought in and enabled to address these objections and concerns. The successful managers were knowledgeable and able to handle difficult questions. Additionally, they were constantly reinforcing the new process by inspecting and encouraging the sales people to go the extra mile.
After securing the first line’s buy-in, you need to…
#2: Speak the sales person’s language “what’s in it for me?”
Salespeople are creatures of habit. They rarely embrace processes and controls designed to drive their behavior and allow insights to their way of doing their job. They feel surveyed and deprived of their freedom to sell “ their way” and annoyed by the reporting, feeling micromanaged.
New sales processes get ignored because sales doesn’t understand specifically how it is going to help them sell more, perform higher, and make more money for the company and themselves.
Solution: You can always enforce their acceptance, but you will not win their belief. The key is to attract the sales people with how it will benefit them. My earlier CRM example was a failure because the leaders explained it in terms of how it would help them, not me. I felt micromanaged and frustrated.
The “do it or you’re out” mentality works at first, but causes long-term issues like low adoption rates and inconsistent data.
Comparing metrics is a clever way to get buy in. Quota achievement, close rates, and other measurable key performance indicators underpin the effectiveness of a sales methodology based on the sales people’s peers.
For example, if Bill has a close rate of 90%, and you are closing 60% it may be time to sniff out exactly how Bill’s process differs from yours.
Before dismissing sales process adoption, these metrics should be closely reviewed and discussed. These conversations give sales a clear knowledge, with evidence, of specifically how the adoption process helps them achieve more sales and make bigger commissions.
#3: Make the reporting easy and beneficial to all contributors
We have seen sophisticated spreadsheets or countless additional fields in the CRM system, requiring salespeople to enter opportunity data. When we interviewed sales on how helpful they found this we got answers like “I am entering data I already know! This is clearly designed for management reporting.” Bottom line was sales didn’t deem it beneficial at all.
When we asked “What could you benefit from sharing the opportunity data?”their responses took an interesting turn. “Reduce the time used for reporting and forecasting” as the number one benefit, followed by “Understanding where we stand in a deal and get some potential next steps to overcome hurdles.”
Solution: It’s crucial to address the “why?” when implementing a sales methodology. This approach shows sales where they stand in their opportunities, gives them tools to quickly remediate, and drives their opportunities to closure.
Ending up with accurate and up-to-date data to feed into reports will only occur if salespeople enter the data for their own purposes, and actually use it in their selling activities.
Speaking of ease of use reminds us to not commit the irritating sales sin of multiple reports required on the same basic information. Which means…
#4: Avoid duplication of efforts.
We have seen companies introduce a central sales process management and reps still had to fill out additional spreadsheets or other documentation tools for local managers or business lines.
I personally worked for a company where reps had to fill out seven spreadsheets, plus enter the data into the CRM for global reporting! Such duplication destroys any effort to get reps’ buy-in, leaving little motivation to adopt.
Solution: Get the buy-in from management to use one reporting engine, ideally the one that sales reps use to qualify and drive their opportunities like your CRM. A cohesive, singular plan is essential. Keep in mind care must be taken when choosing “the one,” because too many data items will kill the adoption’s success.
#5: Choose simplicity over complexity
We found an interesting habit of over-modeling a sales process. For some reason many companies initially designed a too complex and rigid sales process, with dozens of qualification items, sub-processes and approval gates. This is confusing and leaves almost no space for adapting to the customers’ buying cycles, or allowing for creativity to overcome hurdles.
This led in many cases to sales people stating “The new sales process doesn’t work” or “the sales process is not designed for my region, type of clients or products I sell.” Some of the sales people felt like robots interrogating the clients like an automated voice application. Engagement plummets, and so do adoption rates.
Solution: Successful companies put in great thoughts of what really makes their sales close. By defining only a few qualification items, with reasonable checklists and a step by step process, the simplicity offers enough flexibility to align to each customer’s buying process.
Sales & sales management, together with sales ops and sales enablement need to be deeply involved in the design process. It might take a little bit longer streamlining the best practice approach, defining the KPI for reporting and including the enablement strategy, but it’s better to spend the time before the roll out, than trying to circle around and do damage control on the back end.
Implementing a consistent repeatable sales (qualification) process is crucial to scale your sales. By understanding these five strategies, leaders arm themselves with tools that promise to minimize the chances of sales process adoption failing, create a more cohesive and well-executed team unit, and increase the overall closing ratio.
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