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Inconsistent Sales Process | Top Factors That Stop Sales Growth

Updated March 2022

You've heard it before. The books and consultants say, "You really should have a sales process," and "You will sell more if you have a sales process." But is that really true? The answer is "no" – up to a point. However, having an inconsistent sales process can absolutely stop sales growth.

Formal vs. Informal Sales Process

All kinds of businesses seem to be doing just fine without having a formal process, right? For instance, you've probably heard about a company that can do $20-$50M a year, which is very profitable, but they have no formal sales process.

So, does it really matter?

Businesses can get to a certain level of success (revenue and profit) by being opportunistic and customer-focused, and by having brilliant people who make good products and services. But at some point, the bandwidth of those intelligent people gets tapped.

Sometimes that is at $1M in revenue. Other times it is at $50M or more. But at some point, sales growth stops or slows significantly because you have maxed out the current people in the organization. Even new people can't ever seem to replicate what they do.

To get past the "tapped out" point with your current salespeople, a documented sales process helps significantly.

What is a Sales Process?

A sales process is a predetermined sequence of stages and toll gates taken to turn a prospect into a qualified lead, and ultimately into a customer. It encompasses every stage of the customer's sales journey, from initial contact to the closed deal and everything in between.

According to Harvard Business Review, "there was an 18% difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and companies that didn't."

So, what does it mean to have a formal sales process? It means having clearly defined stages and tollgates that your salespeople universally understand, for starters. 

A True Sales Process

After you have concluded that you do indeed want to continue to grow and need a documented formal sales process, you'll then want to include specific components.

Stages 

First, you'll want to include specific steps that move a lead to a prospect and then to a customer. Each step should have goals identified.

For example, the goal of a "Qualification" step is not to close the sale. Instead, it may be to gather specific information to see if this prospect is worth pursuing or not and to secure a discovery or needs analysis meeting.

Activities

Next, you’ll need to identify specific things or activities that should be done at each step. This could be identifying decision-makers, gathering information about x, y and z, etc.

Tools and Resources

You'll also want to include tools and resources that can be used, such as templates, documents, brochures, etc. Internal sales tools are extremely helpful for your sales team to be sure they are prepared, capturing the right information, and following up appropriately.

Customer Commitments

Lastly, this is an important step that many companies miss. Determine what the customer needs to commit to before to moving to the next step in the process.

Benefits of a Documented Formal Sales Process

The more specific you can get with this process, the easier it is for a new hire to follow your secret sauce. The companies that do this typically realize the following benefits:

  1. Higher close rates on deals
  2. More accurate forecasts
  3. Lower turnover of salespeople
  4. Fewer deals outside your sweet spot
  5. More salespeople hitting the goal
  6. Quicker ramp-up time for new salespeople

In The End

If you want your company to continue growing, you need a documented sales process that all of your salespeople universally use. Once everyone is using the same sales process, you may notice an uptick in revenue and a faster win rate. So, is your sales process good enough?

Contact us to get another top reason why your sales growth has decreased or become motionless recently.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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