The sales process of just a few years ago is no longer effective—that’s what we’re hearing in our recent discussions with members. The culprit? A fundamental shift in the way customers are buying.
In an effort to mitigate the risks and complexities associated with today’s marketplace, customers now require much more consensus to make purchases. Consequently, running the sales process of years passed is leading to extended cycle times, stalled business, and inaccurate forecasts.
Not surprisingly, a number of companies are planning to revamp their sales processes in the coming months to better align to these new buying conditions. But what does a successful sales process look like in today’s selling environment?
Our research has uncovered that there are two critical elements to a successful sales process design:
- It’s based directly off the customer’s buying process
- It incorporates high performing reps’ approach to selling
(SEC Members, if your organization is considering, or in the middle of, redesigning its sales process, make sure to register for our upcoming webinar on November 9th on the topic.)
One company, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP), has taken sales process design to the next level; ADP’s reps no longer approach accounts using the sales process. Instead, ADP intentionally blurred the lines of distinction between buying and selling in its sales process to ensure easy, efficient purchase interactions for their customers.
Using customer and high performing rep interviews, ADP determined what its customers’ buying process looked like and then directly aligned selling activities and tools to buyer actions in the purchase process. Just as ADP recognized, incorporating the high performers’ perspective into your sales process is an essential step to ensuring process effectiveness.
Our research also shows that high performing reps take a fundamentally different approach to selling than that of their peers; they prioritize a different set of selling activities and focus their time differently than core reps.
While core reps are quick to engage customers in the sales process, high performers take the time upfront to opt out opportunities that are unlikely to buy. As a result, core and high performing reps sales funnels look completely different.
SEC Members, be sure to visit our newly updated sales process topic center to learn more about what an effective sales process looks like. Also, consider launching the Sales Playbook Diagnostic (available to your organization through 2011) to understand how your high performers execute the sales process differently from the core.