The key to a successful B2B business is the discipline of an effective sales process that replicates success. A core theme of Altus partner Jim Hayden’s and his book (….The Art of the Selling Conversation) is the choreography around the selling conversation and building that into a disciplined process which the Sandler Institute, Salesforce.com and many others all agree will improve close rates by more than 50%. From several client engagements, we have seen lift improve by over 65% and millions in new acquisition revenue generated simply by incorporating the principles below:
- Collect more sales data. Remove the guesswork and intuition about your pipeline, vertical market adoption, and sales people. Make every element of the sales process quantifiable. Detailed analysis comparing where and how leads start, what messaging is used, to whom, and by whom will uncover differences that can be replicated and honed for higher conversion and faster buying cycles.
- Shared and common language. Rally the entire company behind a clear and focused dialog around customers, the sales process and revenue generation. Transparency around clear revenue traction keeps the entire team customer-focused creating lifetime advocates.
- Precise pipeline stages. Avoid pipeline reviews where forecasting is grounded in the team’s opinions vs. definitions identifying the specific steps in the buying cycle. Knowing where you are and what helps drive the prospect through a smooth and logical process that the prospect will both respect and close faster.
- Mapping sales tools to stages. Knowing what to say and when, is all part of the art of sales. Mapping collateral and tools at each stage can make the process more consistent and scalable to a broader team.
- Guided Listening. Listening skills are obviously core to sales success. However, knowing the path of least friction based on prior account closes will help guide the conversation through process you know yields the fasted path to closure. Prospects know their pain but often need your help in shaping the sequence of each step and corresponding stakeholder’s to close.
Building these fundamentals into a systematic and repeatable process will not only improve close rates, it will shorten sales cycles, help diagnose troubled stages, improve team onboarding, and increase customer satisfaction. Don’t follow your gut, follow a proven process.
Author: James Hayden, Partner