Another year is over and all managers are thinking, or should be, what can be better in the coming year. Although this article was written at this time of year, the reflection presented here can be done in any period. Our goal is to present tips for review and improve the sales process.
For this, I will assume that you are already inserted in a context of complex sales and collects indicators on your process. But if you do not, reading this article with other eyes will be extremely beneficial. For it will direct your understanding of your sales process and show you what types of indicators to collect.
Although the name scares you, the concept of complex sales is quite simple. Some companies are in this universe and do not know it. Complex sales encompass trading cycle with several steps. For example: Prospecting> First contact> Dignosis> Proposal> Contract. At each stage, the company ends up dealing with different purchasing influences. That is, agents who will participate in the decision-making process of prospects (possible customers).
Without further ado, let's go to 6 tips to review your sales process!
1. Do a study of people
Imagine that you are trying to sell a luxury Mercedes Benz to a college student. You may even be lucky enough to sell one or two. But of course, 99% of personas in the university world would be outside target Audience.
This example I gave is obvious, but ANY company has personas that it should be focusing on. When the company is already doing sales on a sales cycle, it is much easier to define its key people.
You just need to map your main customers, put paper data on them and try to find similarities. The indicators used may have been raised in the negotiation phase if you use a CRM software or spreadsheet. Or you can call them under the pretext of doing a satisfaction survey.
Raise as many indicators as possible. These can be:
- demographic income, where he lives, marital status, if he has children, etc.
- professionals - position that occupies, area, training, time in the company, etc.
- about the company - size, industry, years in the market, etc.
- related products - is sensitive to price, appreciates deadlines, etc.
The data you have collected will depend on what is most relevant to your business. To learn more, read how to define the ideal customer profile.
2. Analyze conversion rates per step
Every company has a sales funnel. That is, the sale starts at an initial stage (first contact, for example) and ends at the close of the service or purchase agreement. At each stage of the funnel there is a natural loss and a loss strand that can be eradicated / optimized.
It is very important that you map and generate indicators on all your steps in the sales process. The funnel analysis can be done "automatically" via a sales pipeline software or negotiation control sheet, or manually.
When you generate these metrics, at least the number of people in each step and their evolution in the pipeline, you begin to observe conversion rates. Let's say you had 1.000 prospects last year with whom you tagged the diagnostic meeting and, after them, 600 proposals submitted. Their conversion rate between them is 600 / 1.000 = 60%.
By tracking the conversion rates between stages, you'll realize where the biggest losses are in your sales process. From there you can plot new tests to increase the success of your process.
3. Analyze step by step
Especially in very long sales cycles, long time between the steps ends up generating dismay in the negotiations and is the true Achilles heel of commercial managers.
When is the lead which takes time to respond, the team links this to the disinterest of it. When long time is internal inefficiency of the company, this should be deprecated the same as soon as possible. For it is the prospect who will begin to believe in disinterest.
Analyzing the time between stages is critical to improving the sales process and maintaining the cadence of interest in the negotiations. A valuable tip is to break the process down into sub-stages when the waiting time is too long. I have experienced a similar situation when a consulting firm realized that it wasted a lot of time making its proposals. And the conversion rate was low.
The proposal was sent shortly after the problem was diagnosed. With the high volume of prospects and the complexity of the proposals, the sales process ended up being slow and the withdrawal was huge. The company decided to add one more step after the diagnosis: the project sketch meeting. In it, the consultants showed ranges of time and value and the deliverables that would be made (very briefly).
It was much easier to draft a draft powerpoint than a formal proposal. And the draft meeting filtered out really interested customers. Those for whom it would be worth much effort to make a thorough proposal. Other than that it generated another point of contact with the client, who started to interact with the 5 team on 5 days. No more after 20 days, as it was before, with the proposals locked.
Another legal point of this initiative, which we had not imagined would occur, was to make adjustment meetings in the draft before presenting the formal proposal. For some reason, the prospects felt more willing to propose changes in the draft. That is, the final proposal became a mere formality to start the project.
Of course, all changes need to compensate for the ultimate effectiveness of the sales process. So do not just monitor the time between steps, but also the conversion rates.
4. Analyze indicators by team and by person
Some professionals have more facility in some situations and more difficulty in others. This is normal and does not mean they are better or worse sellers. But it can mean that your sales process is not being collaborative, that is, it does not encourage the exchange between sellers.
Different people create different solutions to obstacles. And your business only has to win if the solutions related to the sales process are shared. So, analyze individual and team conversion rates and times per step. Try to understand the discrepancies and promote the exchange between employees who can develop mutually.
Think of initiatives that can make the sales process more collaborative. A collective bonus is a good initiative in this regard.
5. Organize collective and individual training
Especially in low-season periods, use all the indicators that have been set up to create a collective and individual training plan. Focus on the developing points of the team as a whole and on those shown by some individuals.
Trainings can be internal - when a team member creates them from their strengths - or externals - when a company is hired to do so.
6. Make a self-criticism
The role of every manager is to create favorable conditions for his team to develop its work, as well as to develop the potential of each member of the team. Have you actively done this? In relation to the sales process, did you help and motivate your team in the best way possible? What can you do to improve in the time to come?
It is only through an exercise of honest and humble self-criticism that you will develop yourself as a manager. There is no problem in not knowing everything. But accepting that you do not know it is the best possible step to learn more.