Process Alignment: Why Aligning Your Selling Processes to The Customer’s Path Is Key
Sep 26 2019
Last week, I discussed why it’s mission critical to align your sales enablement services to the customer’s path. Based on your feedback and questions, today’s focus is on the foundational part – process alignment – which is about aligning your selling processes to the customer’s path.
In the age of the customer, ALL enablement efforts must be designed through the lens of the customer to be effective. (Click to tweet)
“Wait a minute… isn’t it sales enablement? Why don’t we look after the selling challenges first?” I hear you. Designing your sales enablement strategy through the lens of the customer does not mean that you care less about your organization’s particular selling challenges. Not at all. The fact is this:
Selling challenges don’t exist in isolation; they are connected to (changing) buying behaviors and your organization’s context. (Click to tweet)
Whatever your organization’s specific situation might be, your sellers can only be successful with your buyers. That means sellers always have to be in sync with their buyers’ current steps and gates. And that’s why process alignment is a fundamental prerequisite. It ensures you built a sales enablement framework that makes it easy for sellers and their managers to determine whether they are currently in alignment with their buyers.
That’s why we strongly recommend always designing your sales enablement strategy through the lens of the buyer. Only then can enablement create the foundation the sales force needs to diagnose and solve buyer problems, achieve their desired results and create business at the same time. And that brings us to establishing the foundation of process alignment – aligning your selling processes from marketing to sales to service to the entire customer’s path.
The 19.0% of organizations that dynamically align their selling processes to the customer’s path increase their quota attainment rate by 11.8%. (Click to tweet)
Based on our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study (coming soon!), only 19.0% of organizations master this practice and align their selling processes from marketing to sales to service dynamically to the customer’s path (or various customer paths for specific buying scenarios).
This group improves its quota attainment rate by 11.8%. The trend is similar to 2018, as we talk about only one-fifth that masters this practice. However, the impact is a bit higher this year; it was 8.9% last year. This kind of process alignment becomes more and more relevant: Win rates also increased in a two-digit manner this year.
One of sales enablement’s key foundations is process alignment: aligning your selling processes to the customer’s path. (Click to tweet)
To design an enablement discipline through the customer’s lens, you first need to align your selling processes to the customer’s path. This entails integrating the many steps and gates buyers move through along their path to a decision into your organization’s internal selling processes.
Let’s make an example: At each stage of the buying process, customers need to commit to moving to the next stage. No matter what your salespeople do, if buyers aren’t committed to taking the next step, the opportunity doesn’t move forward. Integrating this commitment into your selling processes helps salespeople avoid the kinds of misunderstandings (stalled deals and missed forecasts) that are a result of buyer/seller misalignment.
Process alignment ensures sellers and managers have absolute clarity on where buyers are on their path to avoid seller/buyer misalignment and forecast problems. (Click to tweet)
If buyers don’t commit to solving the problem the selling team diagnosed them with (and showed them how to solve to achieve better results), the lead doesn’t become an opportunity. If you lack this kind of buyer commitment (buyers commit to solve their problem with a vendor product, service or solution), you may not want to invest in a prototype or something like that. So it’s crucial to have absolute clarity on where buyers actually are on their path. Only then can sellers take the next required actions to address the particular situation. And only then can sales managers coach their sellers to do exactly that: focus on the next required actions rather than assuming or guessing the deal is already an opportunity.
Here are four steps for getting to such a dynamic process alignment – to aligning your selling processes to the customer’s path:
#1: Create awareness across functions regarding WHY the alignment is so important.
If this step is difficult in your organization or you don’t feel heard, discuss the situation with your senior executive sponsors first, and put it on the agenda of the next sales enablement advisory board meeting. It’s a cross-functional decision, which is one reason why you should always have an advisory board in place.
#2: Collaborate with CX, marketing and sales operations.
Process alignment is by no means a task you should (or could) accomplish by yourself. By definition, it’s always a cross-functional effort and a practical example of why a formalized collaboration model is an essential part of a proper sales enablement initiative or function.
#3: Make sure you focus on the essentials.
People often get confused with lots of details that overcomplicate things and don’t add value. It’s key to keep your vision – to avoid buyer/seller misalignment, with all of the commercial risks, from inaccurate forecast data to lower win rates – and capture the buyers’ main steps and decision gates that trigger an action or decision on your end.
#4: Leverage technology to make the alignment dynamic.
Doing this kind of process alignment once is only a starting point. As buyer behaviors continue to change, you should implement a mechanism that allows you to quickly and easily adjust the mapping on your end. Only this kind of dynamic alignment ensures the performance impact mentioned above.
Effective sales enablement leaders know how important a solid, robust foundation is to their success. They focus on the dynamic process alignment described here so that they are able to connect their enablement services to the customer’s path as well. They also focus on a strategic, formal charter-based approach to sales enablement.
If you haven’t already, take a look at our book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. It contains lots of valuable information, frameworks and approaches to make you a better sales enablement leader.
Questions for you:
- How is the state of your process alignment? How are your selling processes currently aligned to the customer’s path?
- Did you ever consider this kind of alignment? If not, will you consider it now?
- If you have already tried it, what were the main challenges you faced?
Related blog posts:
- Clearing the Fog Around Sales Enablement
- Why Customer’s Path Alignment Is Essential to Sales Enablement Success
- Sales Enablement Governance: Why You Need an Advisory Board
- Why You Need a Sales Enablement Charter and How to Get There: Part 1
- Why You Need a Sales Enablement Charter and How to Get There: Part 2