When it comes to selling, consistency is a virtue. Ideally you want your entire sales force to follow a consistent process through the entire sales cycle.
A consistent sales process gives the company the opportunity to apply best practices to the sales effort and it gives everyone involved in the sales process a consistent set of expectations.
CRM should play a major role in setting and implementing a sales process. Your CRM system can help you design an effective process and then help your sales force implement it consistently. It also helps managers track the sales efforts of all members of the sales force.
The first step in establishing a sales process is setting the metrics you will use to judge the results. This is a deceptively simple process that requires both thought and study to be successful.
Obviously increase in revenue is a fundamental metric, but it's a fairly crude one. It represents the outcome of the total sales process and, while it's important, it tends to conceal more than it reveals. You need a set of metrics that will give you a finer insight into your sales process.
leather casual increase face lazy thick shoes mesh Lace bottom women rhinestone A good metric is relevant, easy to measure, and definite. It also needs to be highly quantitative, and preferably expressed in firm numbers. Nebulous metrics are almost as bad as no metrics at all. And irrelevant metrics can actually do damage.
The reason irrelevant metrics are dangerous is that your organization's sales force and marketing departments will work hard to maximize their metrics. If the things they are maximizing really don't matter, it will detract from the sales effort.
Be wary of metrics that measure inputs, such as the number of calls made, rather than results. Substituting effort for accomplishment gives a distorted picture of the sales process.
Be especially careful of stand-in metrics, metrics used to represent things that are difficult or impossible to measure directly. It's all too easy to have a poorly selected stand-in number that actually hurts overall effort.
CRM is valuable in setting and measuring metrics because of the amount of information it provides about your sales and marketing efforts.
Once you've picked your metrics you need to design your sales process. Typically this will be broken down into well-defined stages, each of which will be outlined in detail.
In designing this process it's important that you keep your focus on results and don't burden your sales staff with unnecessary steps. Each sub-stage should contribute directly to the sales effort and leave your people with the maximum amount of freedom on how to accomplish that sub-stage.
Again, it's important not to confuse effort with results. In most cases you want to avoid requiring irrelevant efforts and limit yourself to what is really productive.
As much as possible strive to incorporate best practices into your sales process. Take the best ideas from your most successful people, your competitors and the industry in general and work them into your process.
In finding best practices it's important to separate personal idiosyncrasies from general tactics. All sales people, especially the really good ones, develop a unique style that grows out of their personalities. Some of what they do will be genuine best practices that can be used by others. But part of it will be a natural outgrowth of their personalities and won't translate to other members of your sales force.
Following up with a prospect at certain stages of the sales process is an example of something that can transfer as a best practice. Charming the customer with your magnetic personality isn't.
Finally, once you've codified your sales process follow up and make sure it is applied consistently. Make sure everyone understands that this is the way to conduct sales at your company and don't allow significant deviation. You may well find you'll have to adjust the process as you go along. That's fine. Just make sure you make any changes consistently and for the right reasons.
About the Author
Rick Cook has been involved with computers since the days of punched cards and magnetic drum memories. He has written hundreds of articles on computers and related technology as well as a series of fantasy novels full of bad computer jokes.