Leading the Organization to Higher Sales Performance Through Sales Process Improvements
Apr 02 2019
In last week’s blog, we discussed how sales operations can become more strategic in order to help organizations achieve its sales objectives, by proactively setting their priorities. Today we explore another way sales operations can do this—by taking on more of a leadership role instead of a doer role with the core activities they manage.
Sales process maturity leads to higher sales performance Click to tweet
Our research confirms year over year: the deeper the customer relationship and the more mature the sales process, the better the sales results. We measure this using the Sales Relationship Process Matrix (SRP Matrix), a framework for assessing sales effectiveness. At CSO Insights, we use the SRP Matrix to plot organizations on two axes: depth of customer relationship and maturity of sales process. Then we analyze key performance indicators such as revenue plan attainment, quota attainment, win rates and attrition. Click here to read more about our most recent SRP Matrix results. With a link to sales results, organizations should continually assess where they are against these two dimensions: relationship and process.
Today we take a closer look at one dimension of the matrix—sales process—since sales process definition is a common focus area for sales operations. Before we get started, let’s review the sales process dimension of the SRP Matrix in a bit more detail. We have found that organizations adopt one of four levels of sales process:
- Level 1—Random Process: There is no documented or overarching sales process. Every sales professional does their own thing their own way.
- Level 2—Informal Process: There is a documented sales process that sales professionals are exposed to and expected to follow, but use is neither monitored nor measured.
- Level 3—Formal Process: There is a documented sales process, and sales professionals’ adherence to it is expected and inspected regularly.
- Level 4—Dynamic Process: In addition to all in the formal process, analytics and technologies are used to continually modify the process to ensure close alignment with the customer’s path.
So how is a dynamic process different from a formal one? Having a documented and enforced sales process is the foundation. What makes it dynamic is the continual fine-tuning of the process, aligned to the changing customer’s path, with the use of analytics and technologies.
Organizations with a dynamic process had win rates 14.9 points higher when compared to those with a random process
When comparing organizations with a dynamic process against those with a more random process, there was a 14.9-point difference in win rates; however, only 27.9% of organizations reported having a dynamic sales process (2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study). This means the majority of organizations still do not have a dynamic process. Now let’s take a look at how involved sales operations is, since sales process is a common focus area. While the majority of organizations (88.7%) had some level of sales operations involvement, only 13.8% indicated they were in a leadership role. This means there is an opportunity not only for sales operations to be involved, but also to take on a more proactive leadership role!
Sales operations engagement does matter
If you are wondering whether sales operations engagement matters, the answer is YES! When comparing sales operations involvement with the maturity of an organization’s sales process, we found that the more involved sales operations was in defining sales process, the more likely their sales process was dynamic. In organizations whose sales operations teams took on a leadership role with Sales Process Definition, 50% had a dynamic sales process. In contrast, when sales operations was not involved, only 16.7% had a dynamic sales process.
This means the more involved sales operations is in sales process efforts, the more likely it is for an organization to have a dynamic process which, in turn, leads to higher win rates! Sales leaders will want to make sure their sales operations teams are poised to be in a leadership position when it comes to sales process issues—so that they can support their organizations to achieve their sales objectives.
Let’s now take a look at how sales leaders can support their sales operations teams in leading efforts around sales process improvements.
- Be proactive vs. reactive. Sales leaders can start by evolving their engagement approach with sales operations to be more proactive vs. reactive. Rather than having sales operations focus primarily on the implementation of the process or changes to the process, sales leaders can work with sales operations to pull together recommendations to the sales process based on available data. In this way, sales operations can transition to being a leader, not just a doer that implements this change.
- Align the sales process to the customer’s path. A critical step is to make sure the sales process is aligned to the customer’s path. There are customers and sellers in the process, so being clear on what actions the customer might need to take is just as important as your sales teams’ actions. If you already have a sales process defined, review it against the customer’s path. If you don’t have one, make sure to incorporate it as you define the process. A recent best practice is to map selling actions to the customer’s path instead. If you’d like to read more about the shift in balance of power between customer and seller, download our 2018-2019 Sales Performance Report.
- Involve cross-functional stakeholders to drive implementation and adoption. What happens before and after the sales cycle is just as important as what happens during it. Gather input from marketing, implementation and customer success teams to determine whether their processes have impacts to the sales process that should be taken into account. Then jointly integrate the processes by identifying key hand-off points from one group to another, as well as flagging any dependencies that might exist.
Next week, we will review three ways sales operations can drive sales process maturity.
Questions for you:
- Are you looking at sales process as a lever to improve sales performance?
- Do you have a documented sales process? When was the last time the sales process was updated?
- How involved is sales operations in refining the sales process?
- What cross-functional processes have been taken into account when defining your sales process?
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