In an ideal world, business processes and salespeople would always go hand-in-hand, but this isn’t always the case. Most sales professionals want the clearest path forward to closing a sale, but often see a path of business processes as a hindrance, rather than helpful.
However, ensuring that business processes and the accompanying learning tools are integrated into the sales function can provide a clear yet flexible path for both the sales team and the wider business to gain and keep business while still evolving. So how do you achieve this? Here are three tips to keep in mind to help sales and business processes mix.
1) Sales processes should be unique to product, service and market segment
Just as you have a unique value proposition in the marketplace, you should have some unique aspects to your sales process. Every product category and market segment should have its own best sales process – it’s essential to understand the type of service or product that you’re selling and tweak the sales process to fit the market and client.
The sales team needs to have a clear understanding and path when it comes to the various product and service offerings. Providing access to product information, sharable resources and product owners will enable your sales team to stay current on products and services, as well as help the sales team to better articulate value to the client.
With this in mind, having access to digital learning assets such as short elearning courses (known as microlearning), videos and mobile learning elements will provide the relevant tools and resources to the sales team at the right time, as well as help ensure that it is on the same path as the organisation.
That said, the steps in the process should be clear, repeatable and evolve as the market or clients evolve. Which brings us to point number 2.
2) The sales process isn’t a static roadmap for what your sales team should do to win the sale
A successful sales process should be fluid and evolving. With the pace of business increasing all the time, organisations not only have to be nimble and agile with product and service development, but with their business processes as well.
It is essential to have clearly-defined stages of the sales process and the steps that must be taken within each stage. However, there also needs to be scope to accommodate varying client needs, as well as a way for the salesperson to enhance and modify the process to suit the style of the sale, share new ideas with the sales team and provide feedback to company stakeholders.
Providing a means for feedback to both team members and management is extremely valuable in making sure that the process is helping the company and the client achieve business goals as well as evolve.
A successful sales process should allow salespeople to access all the tools in their arsenal to not just close the deal, but gain the sale without having to do it at the expense of established business processes. However, there’s a lot of pressure on salespeople to close the deal “whatever it takes” and these conflicting priorities may have a huge impact on how the sales team operate.
It’s tempting to skip parts of the sales process with the intent of speeding things up but skipping essential processes could actually hinder the progress of the sale – for example, failure to confirm pricing or not ensuring all contract elements are correct could put the sale at risk and impair long-term client satisfaction.
This is where flexible processes and process training, ideally done as microlearning to deliver short chunks of pertinent information in the moment of need, can be hugely effective.
3) Interdependencies and cross-functional processes with other business units are key to success
Sales can often end up operating as an isolated business function, with a limited view of the valuable work that other departments can bring to the sales cycle. This is partly due to the nature of the team to drive the business or sale forward in any way possible, combined with pressure from the business to bring in revenue.
If the sales process is too rigid or one-dimensional, as discussed above, then this will inhibit the success of the sales team, even if all the steps in the process are executed.
Not only does the sales process have to be unique to the various influencing components (such as product and clients), flexible and evolving, it also has to be interdependent with other business segments.
The more interwoven the sales processes are with the other business units – especially marketing, product and even legal/contracts – then the stronger your sales team will be. Cross-functional learning enables breadth and depth of understanding of the overall organisation and its strategy, so sales not only feels integrated in the business, but also has a clear understanding of the other business units’ functions, processes and priorities that can enable the sale rather than hinder it.
Why sales process training matters
For the sales process to be more successful, it should be deliberately customised to the influencing factors for the sale, including clients, product and services. It also has to be dynamic and evolve alongside the business itself, allowing for flexibility for the nuances of the sale as well as provide a path for feedback into the business.
Lastly, the sales process needs to be integrated into the rest of the critical business processes. Having learning tools to facilitate continuous product knowledge and cross-functional understanding is an integral part of a successful sales team and can be part of a successful sales process.
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This post is written by Jared Orlin, LEO Learning’s Content and PR Specialist, and Theresa Spera, LEO Learning’s Sales and Marketing Director.