If you want to understand your sales process, start by asking why you’re winning or losing your deals. This simple question can uncover a whole host of misalignments -- and misalignments are what plague the sale process in most companies. For example, ask your sales team the number one reason they lost deals, and they’ll likely say price. Ask the customer the number one reason they chose a competitor, and they’ll say value.
Do customers care about price? Absolutely. But ultimately a successful close can be traced back to a strong ability to communicate to decision makers that you have a differentiable value in whatever market you’re selling to.
If you want to uncover areas of misalignment and gain insight beyond surface answers (for example, price) as to why deals were won or lost, you can’t find a better source of information than the voice of your customer. You can do this in by asking for a meeting or creating a written or online survey. We worked with a high-tech company that got some unsolicited feedback after assembling a customer advisory board -- one of the senior IT executives revealed that he had no idea who the rep was for their account. Additionally, the board collectively asked the high-tech company how they could create a more strategic relationship.
One of the most significant things you can do to test whether your sales process is working is to ask this question: “Does the way we sell match up with the way our customers buy?”
Many companies position their sales process around a particular sales methodology (challenger selling, for example) without taking into account their buyer preferences. I’m a fan of all types of sales methodologies, but if you don’t coach and train reps to consider the way buyers want to buy, you’re making them less effective in the field. As I told Gerhard Gschwandtner (founder and CEO of Selling Power) in the video interview below, the type of methodology that will work best for you really depends on the market and industry you’re selling to, and how those customers want to buy.
To evaluate your sales process, ask the following questions:
- What is our existing sales process, and how does it align with the way our buyers buy?
- What are the key activities that help us predictably and reliably generate success?
- What are our win/loss drivers?
- When does our sales process start?
Figuring out what kicks off your sales process is fundamental to aligning the efforts of your sales and marketing teams. Often, the two departments have totally different ideas about the definition of a qualified lead. Identify for your sales process what constitutes that spark of need or interest, and from there you can map a plan for how sales should respond.
Does your company have a winning sales process? Are there areas you could improve on?