Are You in Control of Your Sales Process? 6 Questions to Find Out
Sales leaders are constantly under pressure to do more with less in today’s competitive business environment. But it’s easier said than done when you have so many balls in the air. How can you ensure that your sales methodology is translated into your team’s daily actions so you can accurately predict outcomes? What can you do to set performance expectations and communicate them effectively to senior leadership?
With better control of your sales process, you can deliver on your numbers without sleepless nights.
Sufficient control of the sales process allows you to respond quickly to changes that may impact your numbers. If you catch issues too late in the quarter, you would have lost precious time to course-correct, leading to the dreaded moment when you have to tell your boss that you aren’t going to hit the numbers. On the other hand, if you have the visibility to connect the dots, you can mitigate risks as soon as they arise. You can also see upsides faster, take action to capitalize on the outcome, and build a repeatable process that delivers predictable results.
6 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Your Sales Process
From inside sales to renewals, there are six areas of focus that sales leaders can apply to any selling situation. These strategies can help you hit your numbers and improve outcomes by increasing the control you have over the sales process.
Here are some key questions that will allow you to evaluate your sales and pipeline management process:
1. Are You Maximizing Pipeline Management?
At any given moment, sales leaders should make sure that there are enough opportunities in the pipeline to support their forecasts. They also need to have a good grasp of the pace and rhythm at which these opportunities move through the pipeline to maintain the right volume. The insights will help you make adjustments every week, so you won’t be hit with a big gap at the end of the quarter when it’s too late to bridge the difference.
By understanding the size and speed of your pipeline, you’ll know how to support your forecast. You can also establish sales stage accountability for your reps and connect customer interactions with pipeline progression to better predict and control quarterly outcomes.
2. Are You Delivering Accurate Sales Forecasts?
Instead of approaching sales forecast as a three-month block, break down the quarter into smaller segments. This can help you gauge if you’re heading in the right direction early on and make adjustments if needed. Establish a rhythm of weekly, monthly, and quarterly cycles with your team, all the way down the individual rep’s level. The higher frequency of assessment and adjustment will enable everyone to learn and refine the sales approach throughout the quarter.
3. Are You Uncovering Sales Cycle Insights?
Tracking why teams are winning or losing can help you find out what works. The insights will enable you to understand how trends impact the sales cycle and pinpoint where you can fine-tune your strategy. Drill down to customer segments (e.g., country, regions, or business line) and see how different deals are moving at different speeds. You can then create action plans to support segments that are ahead or behind to strengthen the pipeline management process.
You should also incorporate a customer feedback loop to understand demands, roadblocks, and escalations. This can help ensure that reps are focusing on the most effective activities to accelerate the pipeline and drive results. Document the insights gained during this process so you can create repeatable outcomes.
4. Are You Effectively Influencing Sales Cycle Timelines?
Forecast your sales activities with time-bound actions. If you know that it takes 15 days to get a contract through a review process before a deal is closed, then work backward to get things done at least 15 days before the end of a quarter to make sure you make the numbers. Understanding the timing required for each stage in the sales cycle allows you to map “days in advance” from the first connection to close. You can then monitor signs of customer or partner engagement and gauge if a deal is progressing at a satisfactory pace.
5. Are You Proactively Reducing Surprises?
Bad news doesn’t get better with time, especially when it comes to sales forecasts. Communication with your team and senior leadership is the key to reducing unpleasant surprises. Document and discuss week-over-week changes in order to highlight gaps so teams can make continuous adjustments and mitigate risks as you provide leadership with a high level of visibility. This also allows you to analyze problems, get to the root cause of the issues, and take action to improve outcomes on an ongoing basis.
6. Are You Maximizing Sales Effectiveness?
Many sales leaders make the mistake of equating busyness with outcomes. Make sure that reps are maximizing their productivity by spending time on meaningful activities that generate revenues. An activity review allows you to see what reps are spending time on. You can then take unproductive work (e.g., administrative tasks) off their plates so they can spend more time connecting with customers. Moreover, reviewing reps’ activities can ensure that they’re following an effective sales process to optimize results.
Is There Room for Improvement?
A predictable sales process gives you control and visibility of your outcome. It’s the key to success for every sales leader in any selling environment. ServiceSource has relied on these six focus areas for over 20 years to guide enterprises through their sales processes. We have tested and fine-tuned the approach across multiple industries and sales motions. The results have always led to increased performance over previous baselines when combined with other improvement areas.
If you aren’t saying yes to all six of the questions above, there’s room for improvement. We can help you gain more control over your outcome and respond quickly to changes that may impact your numbers. Schedule a call with us to see how we can help you improve your sales KPIs.