According to Accenture, sales reps who use an organization’s sales methodology 90% of the time achieve 70% of their targets. Accenture also found that 92% of reps who consistently used a sales methodology achieved their quota. Only 86% of reps reached quota without the methodology.

Bottom line: companies who use  a formal sales process make more money than those who don’t.

Why is using a formal sales process so effective?

Let’s start with a story.

Here’s why you need a system...

In the 1400s, most people still thought the world was flat and the best map of the world was over 1000 years old.

Sailors were completely unfamiliar with astronomy and mathematics. In fact, Europeans of the 15th century knew less about science and geography than the Romans who sailed the oceans 1300 years before.

Lacking the requisite skills in astronomy and math that enabled navigation, European explorers seeking new trade routes relied on two main tactics to keep from getting hopelessly lost. The first was trial-and-error. The second? They never lost sight of the coast.

Because of this, Portuguese and Spanish ships had never sailed farther than 800 miles from their shores and the Europeans had to rely on others for many of the goods they desired. Muslims controlled the established Asian trade routes and only traded with merchants from the Italian city-states Genoa and Venice.

The frustrated Portuguese and Spanish wanted to trade directly with Asia. But that would mean finding new sea routes to the East.

Determined to find a new route to Asia, a Portuguese prince named Henry founded an astronomical observatory and the first ever school of oceanic navigation. The school taught sailors to navigate and make maps. Prince Henry gathered experts to teach Portuguese sailors to stay on course using science to calculate their ships' position relative to heavenly bodies.

Using their new-found knowledge many of these sailors embarked on long journeys of exploration without having to rely on guesswork.

In other words, learning the fundamentals of navigation and having a reliable map to rely on to stay on course enabled the next wave of explorers--Columbus, Vespucci, Magellan-- to reach their destinations rather than floundering around lost.

A formal sales process can be the map that guides your sales reps.

However, the problem is…

Your sales organization may be sick

What do I mean by that?

Well, I mean that there may be something wrong that--like an illness-- left untreated will only get worse.

According to Commence Corporation, "organizations without a documented sales process often exhibit several common symptoms, such as a disconnected and manual approach to selling and a lengthy cycle time to find prospects, get quotes out the door, and close orders...Other symptoms of process deficiencies include abundant and costly errors, evidenced by expedited orders and high volumes of returns, and inadequate margin on too many quotes, resulting in deflated profitability."

Are you suffering from any of those symptoms? Maybe you’ve noticed other warning signs. Are you:

  • Finding it difficult to close the sale?
  • Not achieving your monthly and yearly sales targets?
  • Making too many presentations that don’t turn into sales?

If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you may be suffering from a sick (or nonexistent) sales process. As mentioned, that can cause problems. You see, without a structured sales process, lots of things tend to fall through the cracks.

That’s no good because if you want to help your sales reps succeed, you should give them a sales methodology to help them identify the best message for each stage of the sales cycle.

CSO Insights research shows a positive correlation between adopting a process across the sales force and sales results and revenue predictability increasing. CSO Insights feels that “‘how’ an organization sells—the sales process—may become the primary differentiator between high performing and low performing sales organizations."

To get a high-performing sales team, you need a reliable, repeatable, structured process. Revenue predictability and making quota consistently are next to impossible without one.

Sales isn’t about luck, but rather a process

It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it?

That even your best sales reps could be doing better.

The truth is, the days of "dialing for dollars" are long gone. No longer can a salesperson get lasting success through sheer force of will and determination. Success in sales requires a process.

Every new salesperson and even experienced people can benefit from a formal sales process because it has clearly defined stages and milestones that are universally understood by your salespeople.

On the other hand, salespeople that shoot from the hip instead of having a system have to “reinvent the wheel” with every sale. That’s why most salespeople seem to wait by the phone or work off their prospects' "systems" instead of their own.

We all know that the buyer's journey has replaced the sales funnel. The many professionals who don't understand or make use of a sales process will continue to have a tough time connecting with prospects.

Don’t think so? Research suggests that the sales process may become the primary differentiator between high performing and low performing sales organizations.

If you want to increase sales effectiveness, maybe it’s time to re-examine your sales efforts. So, take a page from the playbook of top sales organizations and take control of your results.

Do You Have What It Takes To Be Best-in-Class?

What do effective chief sales officers (CSOs) and their teams do differently?

One of the most important differences is they use an integrated, repeatable sales process rather than a grab bag of disconnected sales tactics. In other words, they have a dynamic sales process.

Without such a process to provide a consistent road map, CSOs have no choice but to depend on individual sales reps and their managers to figure things out on their own.

The trick to getting it right is that your sales process should align with how your customers move through their buying process. That’s the smart way. It’s also how you get:

  • higher win rates and higher revenue growth
  • lower sales rep turnover
  • new sales reps to ramp-up faster
  • CRM adoption rates to improve
  • forecast accuracy to increase
  • and reps spending less time on non-value added sales activities.

Using a formal sales process enables you to adapt to changes in the marketplace and have better visibility throughout the sales process.

A formal sales process also gives your sales team:
  • a common vocabulary for describing the activities involved in selling
  • clearly defined stages of selling
  • an agreed upon checklist of what it takes to move from one stage to the next
  • consistent guidelines for information to be gathered and given at each stage
  • clear expectations for how long each sales stage should take
  • clear definition of suggested next actions

Some companies use branded systems like Solution Selling or Dale Carnegie. Other organizations develop proprietary systems. The important thing is to have a system.

Your sales reps are the #1 source of revenue for your company. Nothing is more important that having a process and creating expectations for your sales team.

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