Sales 2.01 Nov, 2011 By: Krista Moore imageSource
We are often asked by independent dealers what is the differentiator between successful and growing dealers and those that are slow to grow. My first response is always effective sales leadership. It is critical to have someone at the helm, whether they are the business owner or a dedicated sales manager that creates and shares their vision and strategy, while leading, inspiring and developing others to high standards.
It may all sound like pie in the sky wishful thinking. Although many dealers are working on more effective leadership systems and management systems, in many cases this element is work in progress or the resources aren’t available to invest in it. I quickly go to the second biggest differentiator - sales process. This systematic approach to selling which can be created and executed will streamline the selling system; shorten the sales cycle, ultimately closing more business faster while creating customer loyalty.
Let’s explore what sales process really is and touch upon Sales 2.0 – the new age of selling effectiveness that many of you might have read about in various sales and marketing trade publications. Sales 2.0 has taken other industries by storm and may very well have a place within our industry.
Today, dealers want creative, innovative ways to differentiate their business, compete more effectively, close more accounts and fix their sales problem once and for all. Having a sustainable, repeatable, and accountable sales process is the number one area that aggressive, proactive independent dealers want to address. These dealers are re-hiring and retooling their sales organizations, beginning with clearly defining a successful sales system and aligning that system with their brand and messaging. Dealers want to provide their reps with tools and job aids, along with conversation guides, messaging and marketing pieces that fit into each phase of the sales process.
At K.Coaching, we recommend using a sales process creations methodology that incorporates some of the following:
Sales Process Creation and Execution
Most of us don’t think about processes and procedures when we think about sales. We consider the sales approach to be more freeform and unique to a sales rep’s personality, talent, style, and experience. Research shows that process-centric sales teams outperform those sales teams that rely on sheer selling skills and the talent of their sales reps. Just as in manufacturing, process promotes known outcomes, consistent products, and efficient (i.e., cost-saving) behaviors. Isn’t it time you adopted the same principles of a successful system that will streamline the sales process, ensure consistent execution, and convert more leads to customers?
Historically, independent sales reps have built their business through “good times,” with weekly drop visits (fondly referred to as milk or donut runs) and high integrity, friendliness, and service. Now, when times get leaner, we ask them to bring in new business while even the most seasoned sales reps struggle in a changed climate. The previous approach may be “old school”—generic or focused too much on price. But now both the sales landscape and customers’ needs have changed: the competition is stronger and behaves differently with the introduction of more technology for marketing, and social networking. Shouldn’t your go-to-market strategy, sales process, and approach adapt and change as well?
Often we tell our sales reps to get new business or alert them to customers not buying and rely on them to respond accordingly. The rep may approach their task from a position of experience, based on what they know and how they think they should sell. This lack of organizational process can result in disappointment, ineffectiveness and inconsistency. Sales reps are doing their own thing, reinventing the wheel each time and with each new prospect.
After the above is determined, now it is time to document and validate what the ideal sales approach, process and job aids should be for your business model. An example of a prospecting process may be as simple as a phased approach: Pre-qualify, Uncover Needs, Apply Solutions, and Close.
- Basically, design the step-by-step system that reps need to follow to successfully win business and close accounts;
- Design a step by step process and marketing alignment for how your company wants to create loyalty, penetrate accounts and improve retention rates;
- Then create the job aids, tools and resources they need to support the sales rep with each phase of the sales process; these include consistently formatted letters, email templates, conversation guides, scripts, and marketing collateral.
A step by step guide and a tool set of polished materials enables your sales reps to beat the same drum, learning and improving through repetition and closing and keeping more business. Aligning a phased approach with the correct marketing, job aids, training and technology takes it to a different level of effectiveness!
Executing Sales 2.0
Once you have completed a documented sales process, you are ready to execute the next generation of sales - Sales 2.0.
A key aspect of Sales 2.0 involves aligning your defined sales process with an automation tool. Many independents are investing in technology with CRM tools and data intelligence systems such as Acsellerte, Sales-i and Goldmine to help their company and their sales reps become more process oriented and more sharply focused. If used properly, these tools and practices ultimately result in better account management, improved retention and penetration rates, and organized prospecting.
By Sales 2.0 automation we mean guiding the reps through the sales system and prompting the next steps, with appropriate, consistent sales and marketing aids at their fingertips. This very different than having sales reps respond to alerts to customer trends, or scheduling next steps. What a sales rep does with this information and the quality of their approach is what really matters. Landslide has become very popular as a CRM tool with sales process automation, and many large sales organizations align with SalesForce.com. Sales process automation is even more important when it comes to prospecting, by giving reps a proven and effective template of steps to follow, aids to support those steps, and metrics for measuring effectiveness. These tools ultimately result in a shortened sales cycle, more business closed faster, selling skills development and the attraction of better sales talent.
Sales process definition and Sales 2.0 is a proven concept that aligns your current sales approach with job aids and selling tools to ensure aggressive and consistent execution by everyone, every time and every day. Results means business growth!
Krista Moore is an Executive Coach & Consultant and founded K. Coaching to help business owners, executives, and their sales teams develop the skills & strategies to propel their growth. She’s addressed businesses around the world & co-authored a bestselling book with Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard, Roadmap to Success. Visit www.kcoaching.com for info.