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.
1. Create a Sales Plan Template
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.
2. Measure your Results Continuously
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.
3. Adapt your Approach
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.