A sales process undeniably affects your company's ability to convert leads into paying customers. However, creating and implementing a working sales process involves numerous moving parts. These determine the success of the process you adopt. When these parts are misaligned, your sales process will be ineffective and contribute to the loss of revenue and customers instead of fulfilling its purpose.
So how do you know your process is not working? Below we take you through several apparent signs and steps you can follow to evaluate your current process.
Is It Time for a New Sales Process?
Sometimes the answer to the above question is a loud and clear no. But other times, it may be unclear if it is at all necessary to change your sales process. If you are unsure, here are eight signs that scream it's time for a new sales strategy.
You Cannot Track Past Performance
You must be able to track and analyze your current sales strategy to validate its effectiveness. Tracking your current process helps bridge the gap between your expected results and the results you are getting. This is easy to do because you can recognize patterns that are yielding results and others that are not.
For instance, tracking your past performance reveals the sales efforts that customers engage with, convert leads, and close deals. This knowledge enables you to make informed decisions and allows you to improve below-par methods.
Tracking also shows cause and effect relationships that are part of the process. Some of the sales metrics to keep track of include:
- Sales growth
- Sales target
- Lead response times
- Conversion rates
- Year-over-year growth
- Sales to cost ratio
- Sales funnel leakage
- Average customer lifetime value
- Total revenue
- Revenue per product or service
Nothing is more daunting than hearing a customer or prospect say that you are not special. Or rather reply to your sales email with the good-old "everyone else says the same thing."
But unfortunately, many sales reps get this every now and then. And rather than deciphering the real meaning of the message, they give up on the prospect and move along to the next, only to hear the same thing again.
Let me be the one to break it to you. Whenever a customer or prospect shares feedback that implies you are not special, there is no need to be discouraged. Because, most times, they do not suggest your product is failing but instead, your sales message is not setting you apart. It sounds like every other message by every other seller. So, it is time to change your message and customize it to fit your brand and not the industry.
Another thing, it may also be a cry for help from your customers telling you that they can't find what they are looking for. This is easy to turn around by answering their questions directly. Reducing the effort and time they need during the decision-making process.
Fortunately, big data makes it easier for you to collect more information on customers and their preferences. As a result, it has become increasingly easier to target the right people with a meaningful, personalized message. Instead of the generic one-size-fits-all message that got you into this situation.
You've Had It for Too Long
But how long is too long? Over time companies grow and outgrow multiple things. This includes their current sales process. This may depend on outdated marketing trends, misaligned goals, a different customer base, old employees, and old technology.
Thus, according to Glenmont consulting, it is essential to change your sales strategy every two years. You can also consider changing your strategy sooner if your industry goes through a significant shift. For instance, in 2020, many brick-and-mortar businesses had to rethink and restructure their sales process because of a pandemic-induced global marketing shift.
The shift necessitated incorporating online sales or moving to online sales entirely. So, most businesses, even those that had changed their process months or weeks before the shift, had to get back to the drawing board.
New marketing trends also indicate it's time for a new sales process because clinging on to the old one may make you look lazy and uninformed before your prospects. Currently, it would be best if you considered advertising, engaging, and communicating with your customers via social media.
The fruits of social media marketing may not be instant, but they are very significant. For instance, a Sprout Social research report reveals that 91% of customers will visit your site after engaging with your brand on social media. Another 57% will follow your brand on social media to keep up with your product and service updates.
Your Sales Cycle is Too Long
As earlier mentioned, you should avoid taking too much of your customer's time and effort during the sales process. And you are doing the exact opposite if your sales cycle includes many unnecessary steps. An extra-long cycle increases the time it takes to convert a lead. It also results in an upsurge in customer acquisition costs.
But how do you know your process is too long? Your sales cycle should be aligned with your industry and matched to your company average sales. For B2B companies, the typical sales process takes 4-6 months, while a long cycle lasts for more than a year.
Are you convinced that your process is too long and tiring for your customers and prospects? Then it is time for a change. You can employ several tactics to shorten and optimize your cycle such that it is effective and repeatable. The most important is to spend more time learning about your customers to reduce obstacles and eliminate the unnecessary steps in their journey.
You can follow this by automating and parallelizing processes such that several steps can be conducted at once, and you reduce the time spent on every client. The goal is not to go at it blindly by skipping steps but to make the process as efficient as possible.
Your Budget Has Changed
You cannot wand off-budget changes as your business grows and expands. Therefore, you need to adjust your allocation for your sales process as you move along. The amount you need to set aside for your sales strategy is influenced by your capital investment, sales turnover, and expenses.
An effective sales budget will show you what you need to spend versus how much you are currently spending. It also allows you a glimpse of what marketing or sales efforts are working over, which are lagging. This way, you can reallocate your funds to close more deals. Not to forget that this budget also goes a long way to determine the budgets of other departments in the company.
The amount allocated to your process should be enough for the resources and efforts required to close deals and increase the customer base. It should also include incentives and rewards for your sales team and selling aids.
You are Tapping Into a New Market or Launching a New Product
When launching a new product or spreading your wings into a new market, it is essential to reevaluate your sales process. Why? Because you need to provide your clientele with information on your new products and services. Additionally, when exploring a new market, you must also take your time to curate a new target customer base and define the buyer journey afresh.
Therefore, you cannot downplay the importance of a new sales process, which will guide your sales teams on how to handle the new clients and close deals with the latest products. A new formal sales process during these instances will boost your revenue margins by up to 18%.
Lack of a Niche Customer Base
A common mistake many entrepreneurs make is to try to sell to everybody. This is not only unnecessary but also impossible and results in the waste of a lot of time, effort, and business resources. Besides, it diminishes your credibility and ability to position yourself as a trustworthy brand in your industry.
Thus, instead of trying to be everyone's cup of tea, be that special cup of tea for a few genuine tea lovers. In other words, find your niche audience and aim to provide these people with value. Being more selective with the people you target will allow you to gain the best-fit leads and promote customer retention.
Experts say that increasing your customer retention margins by as little as 2% will help cut marketing costs by up to 10%. Additionally, repeat customers are nine times more likely to shop with you. They are also less price-sensitive and spend more than first-time buyers.
Your company type or size should not limit your customer base. Instead, it should be aligned with your organizational culture, commitment to the process, and ideal customer profile. Also, ensure you carve out your niche in a market with potential for growth and keep up to date with demand and sales strategy shifts to maintain a relevant and productive customer base. Furthermore, keep track of your customers' perspectives and perception changes.
Misalignment in Your Sales and Marketing Departments
Aligning sales and marketing departments is the key to bolstering sales effectiveness, boosting overall employee morale, creating and delivering relevant and impactful sales campaigns, plus growing revenue. When the two teams are playing tug, there is a high probability that your sales team will not deliver prospects with the products or services promised by the marketing team.
The two teams are better when unified. They can benchmark and learn from each other how to deliver a better buyer's experience. A few of the things sales can discover from marketing include the use of CRM, best email practices, the content calendar, and ongoing or upcoming marketing campaigns. On the other hand, the sales team can enlighten marketing on the buyer demographics and the obstacles along the sales journey.
When both teams are on the same page, it is possible to shorten sales cycles, improve conversion rates, and increase revenue margins. The alignment of the two departments should involve aligning roles and goals. Reducing inconsistencies in lead generation efforts and effectively solving problems for prospects. It should also encompass aligning technology and systems to enable one-to-one communication with leads.
How to Evaluate Your Current Sales Process
The signs discussed above are irrefutable indicators that it is time to change your sales process. However, what should you do if your business has not shown any of the above signs? But your gut continuously tells you it's time? The steps below can help you conclude whether your core is right.
Break Down Your Sales Process
The best way to determine the success or failure of your business process is to be aware of what is working and what is not. You'll make it easy for yourself to determine this if you break down the process and take a close look at how every step of the process is adding or subtracting to the business's success.
A few questions to ask yourself when evaluating every step of your sales process include
- Is every step providing the intended results or the same results when you first implemented the process?
- Are all the steps up to date?
- Are they effective?
- Can I prioritize better?
If you realize you can do better, then do not shy away from tweaking the steps.
Review Original Sales Goals and Objectives
Are your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive? If not, then it is time to change that and outline clear sales performance goals that deliver accurate results and help to set and test KPIs.
It would help if you also considered breaking down your big and vague goals into small and achievable monthly or weekly tasks. These go a long way in keeping your sales teams engaged and motivated throughout the process as they know exactly what is expected of them at the end of a specific period or step of the process. Redefining sales goals and objectives also guides you to move from where you are to where you want to be.
It is also crucial to determine your separate sales and marketing goals, whether they align or if they need to be changed. Misalignment of these goals often negatively impacts your sales process. It disrupts your customer retention ability and the company's long-term growth potential.
Track the Performance for Each Step of the Process
Evaluating your past performance against your current situation helps to point out performance gaps. The gaps may be in the form of conversion rates, sales made, revenue generated, product-market fit, staff performance, and promotional sales campaigns.
The performance checks should be regular and reveal your progress towards the strategic business goals. If you find that some steps in your process are causing slow progression towards critical business goals, it may be time for a new strategy that will help you fulfill your goals and achieve ultimate business success.
Evaluate Your Buyer's Journey
Your sales process needs to be clear and transparent so that roles are clear within your team and the customer understands the steps. A review of your buyer's journey is a sure indicator of misalignment between departments or stages of the process.
The disconnect will be evident when the entire organization is celebrating a sale that has been made, but your sales team cannot explain how. Now is a perfect time to examine your buyer's decision-making process because of the massive shift to online selling. If you still expect your buyers to adapt to your methods, you will be in for a rude shock.
How to Implement a New Sales Process
Implementing a successful sales process is not a walk in the park. Because as we had mentioned earlier, it involves many moving parts that must be considered and implemented separately. Proper implementation of the process will determine the success of your new sales strategy.
The process involves setting goals for every step of the process. Keeping in mind that each stage has unique goals due to special sales activities, approaches, messaging, objections, and obstacles.
Define the steps of your sales procedure to achieve sales predictability and effective lead management. You should also need to remember that a truly effective sales process must focus on customer conversations that imply a distinctive purchase experience and sets you apart from the competition. Follow that with matching your leads to the best sales reps. Once you have your new process in place, do not forget to check in often and find ways to improve before it becomes obsolete once again.
You can learn more about building and implementing a full-blown sales process that will help you scale your business through our Deal Flow Accelerator program. The program runs for six weeks and is curated to teach you how to create a working sales process, approach clients, and close sales. We also address the mistakes you are likely to make as you adopt a new sales process. And how to boost your trust and credibility among customers and prospects.
Sign up today for a chance to scale your business fast and an opportunity to start working on your business instead of working in it.