One of the most difficult parts of building a sales force is bringing new account executives up to speed on your company’s sales process. As we mentioned in a prior post, having an established sales process is critical to your ability to measure your sales effectiveness and try new approaches. A written sales process also allows you to efficiently and effectively transfer that knowledge rapidly to new reps. Your team may possess raw sales talent, but if they’re not trained on your process, a lot of that talent may go to waste.
When a new sales rep is brought onboard, every company spends (or should spend) a considerable amount of time coaching and training on the product. Naturally, this makes sense and will be crucial to unlocking the talent of the rep. You shouldn’t anticipate closing many sales unless your reps have a firm understanding of the product, the customer’s pain points and the competition’s offerings. Often overlooked in training though is the process your company has established to actually close a deal and recognize the revenue.
As almost all sales reps can attest to, their first few deals always progress slower than they should. New reps inevitably struggle navigating all the hurdles put in place to actually recognize a deal. Getting the customer onboard is just one aspect, understanding the batch of forms, approvals and other legal and finance-related steps is another. While a new rep is selling the product, they also have to run a gauntlet of internal processes. Running a parallel process can be the difference between closing a deal by quarter-end and having it slip. As most have learned, time kills all deals.
What do I do now?
As a sales manager, even with naturally talented reps, this is the question that will continually arise during the first few sales cycles for all of your new reps. If it’s not your time that is being requested, it will invariably be that of several other reps in your company that are taking time away from their selling to help navigate the process for the new hire.
Sales execution platforms like Shibumi can help tie all of this together and save your team a ton of time while tying everything back to your existing Salesforce.com data. Further, you’ll be in a position to determine where bottlenecks or unncessary steps might be in your process that are hindering your reps’ ability to do their jobs effectively. Yours deals should close more smoothly and your reps will be confident in the process.
See how Shibumi can help you onboard faster and keep your new reps asking the question “Who do I close next” instead of “what do I do now?” Try Shibumi’s built in sales templates or develop your own to keep your team focused on what matters most – closing the deal.
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As any sales veteran will attest, having a repeatable sales process is a huge benefit. While many rely on natural skill, a sales plan honed from experience is the most effective way to win business. Bottling up what has worked and avoiding what hasn’t greatly increases the chances of winning more customers without wasting time or money.
A Harvard Business Review article from earlier this year by Steve W. Martin highlighted a survey showing the techniques employed by high-performing sales team. Notably, among the high performers, was the presence of a structured sales process – which also tended to be absent from the underperformers.
Establishing a written sales plan turns a hunch into a highly repeatable and data driven process that can be refined and scaled to maximize your sales growth. Taking three easy steps that form the basis for Shibumi’s sales execution process can have you on your way to joining the ranks of the high performers.
Whether you know it or not, you probably already have a sales plan. If you’re a small organization, it might be based on that hunch that has helped your first few reps sniff out deals and get them across the finish line. Don’t waste that knowledge! Putting down the concrete set of steps, actions and interactions that helped you win that first deal can be critical to winning more. It can also be critical to helping you clone your top performers and bringing new reps up to speed much more quickly as you scale to become a larger organization.
If you’re a large sales organization without an established process, congratulations – you’re one of the few. If you have one, however, there still may be room for refinement and improvement to tweak multiple approaches for different products and environments. Having a plan is the key to improving and leads us to step 2.
The adage that “you can’t improve what you can’t measure” rings as true in sales as it does in every other line of business. Now that you’ve established a solid plan based on some experience, it’s time to validate it. When used properly, Salesforce.com and other CRM solutions are incredible tools for collecting data on your prospects, opportunities, pipeline and sales cycle. Now is the time to put that to use.
Having the data at your fingertips to slice and dice based on changes in your approach is key to understanding the critical elements of your plan. For some organizations, increasing your closed won will be the only metric that matters and data will be easily available to report on. More complex metrics that involve multiple parties or roll-ups may require a little more digging. Fortunately, with many tools available to pull data directly from your CRM, the old days of manually running reports and running the calculations by hand are gone.
You may be surprised by the correlations or trends you’re starting to see. Do you close 70% of the deals where your reps got real world data from your customer (step X in your close plan) but only 20% when they don’t? This is incredible insight into how prospects see value in your product and how you may be able to nurture deals that will happen and cut loose the prospects that are just wasting your time.
A diagnosis of what’s working (or sometimes more importantly – what’s not) is great to show you where you have room for improvement, but unless you adapt more of the good stuff you may not see your numbers growing as quickly as they can. As new reps join with ideas of their own or you launch new products or into new markets your plans and strategies will necessarily change. Having a plan with quantifiable data and key performance indicators (KPIs) backing it up allows you to experiment and expand on the parts that are working. Having the data that proves something is making a difference provides a tremendous opportunity for coaching your reps. That data also allows you to continuously assess and rework your plans to hit your revenue growth targets quarter after quarter.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Take a look at Shibumi today to see how we can kickstart your process into high gear! See results instantly with our pre-designed sales plan templates or customize your own. Shibumi will help you leverage your CRM data more effectively and drive the results you expect from your team.
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