PKF Texas Consulting Solutions Manager, Tony Piperato, is back discussing how to develop a realistic sales process.
This is the second chapter in the story “The pipeline that never was…”, so if you’re not familiar with part one, please go here and read it before continuing. So, the pipeline was a pipe dream, information just wasn’t what it seemed to be, and everyone was shocked. It’s no surprise that most companies fall into one of three categories when it comes to a failed sales process: No sales process, perceived sales process, and a dysfunctional sales process.
Many companies will admit that they simply do not have a sales process that is developed for their organization. Generally, the sales team has brought their experiences and sales management expertise to the company and is using their own system to manage their individual pipeline. In this case, it’s challenging to bring the sales team under a single sales process, since you will need to change each individual’s mindset.
Some companies think they have a sales process. When you listen to them discussing the sales pipeline, they’ll use words like “qualified”, “proposal stage”, “down selected”, etc.., but there may be no formal tracking or reporting solution in place to manage the various pieces of information or the sales stages themselves.
The case of our fictitious Initech falls under the third category: The dysfunctional sales process. The process was in place, documented, and even used by the sales teams via a well-known CRM application. The problem was that the information itself was not qualified by anyone; so folks entered $1 million for a non-qualified opportunity for example.
A smooth sales process intertwines both the sales business processes with a technical solution in such a manner that Business Development Managers, Sales Managers, Sales Administrators, and Sales Executives all understand exactly what the sales data represents at any stage in the process. For example, a business process may state that no estimated revenue number may be attached to an opportunity until an initial requirements meeting has been completed. This business process can be implemented in the technical solution through the use of workflows that move the opportunity along the sales pipeline based on closed activities such as a completed requirements meeting.
While the use of workflows and triggers might seem “big brother” like, these processes actually aid the sales team by guiding them through the sales process and allowing new hires to quickly adopt the way the organization does business. Once the entire sales team is confident that the sales pipeline contains accurate and reliable information, the focus turns to generating accurate reporting for management and executive forecasting. But that’s another story…