Ever worked in a startup? In particular an early stage one with around 6-12 people? My bet is that it was populated by highly motivated individuals with a strong desire to succeed, and was most likely immense fun to be a part of – and not to mention the hardest you ever worked! And by definition that team was cross-functional and self-organising – in other words it had all the requisite roles and skills to succeed, and was empowered to figure out how to achieve its goals. Continue reading “Cross Functional Teams: Why They’re Good for Your Sales Organisation”
This post was written (very rapidly) as a response to a question posted on LinkedIn by John Smibert:
What causes a sales pipeline to become clogged? What should we do to get it flowing again?
With those questions in mind, and my Lean Thinking hat firmly on my head, here are some areas for consideration:
Glenn Coe chose to sub-title his book: “Lessons from a life on the road. The essential guide for a sales career”. In that respect, the book delivers – lots of solid advice, based on real experience. It’s chapters are structured as a series of questions, starting from the very basics, for example: What is Sales?, What Does it Take to be Good at Sales?, How Do I know if I’m Cut Out for It?, and so on, including, later on, Should I Buy a Porsche?, and Why Do My Colleagues Hate Me?
B2B sales is a complex job – there are often many different moving parts associated with a sales opportunity, including the customer, and the various stakeholders involved; the opportunity itself, and the potential investments and rewards it represents to the customer and the supplier; the specific requirements which need to be satisfied; the solution that is offered; the contracting process – and so on.
Keeping track of all these different moving parts, in any coherent kind of fashion, is not easy, especially as they: a) can move independently of one another; b) do not always progress in a simple linear way; and c) are often outside of our direct control. Multiply that by everything that’s in your pipeline and you have a challenge on your hands. The greater the complexity of your opportunity (or set of opportunities in your pipeline) the greater the chances of missing some key aspect or piece of information, leading to increased risk (of losing deals), and therefore decreased reliability of your forecast.
Over the last decade or so, lean and agile principles and practices have become increasingly popular and prevalent in many aspects of business. Whole communities of people have begun to embrace lean and agile, industries focusing on lean and agile have sprung up, and many organisations have bet their futures on “transforming” to lean and agile ways of working.
So what has this got to do with the business of sales and selling? I believe there are many good concepts in lean and agile, and that sales and salespeople can benefit from embracing at least some of them.
Why did we create the Essential Sales Process (ESP)? Well the answer is that myself, and the other co-creators of ESP, have worked in solution selling for most of our careers, and we felt that most of the available solution selling processes on offer didn’t work very well. They tend to be very linear, and assume a “happy day” scenario where everything goes according to plan, and we always have control over what the customer does, and what the competition does. Continue reading “Lean & Agile Sales Process: a Non-Linear Approach”
A good sales process not only helps the sales team with opportunity qualification, assessment and planning, but also supports good governance. A key aspect of sales governance in most organisations is the opportunity lifecycle, usually defined by a linear progression of stages, e.g. Suspect, Prospect, Qualified, Business Win, and Closed Won. If your organisation uses a CRM system (who doesn’t these days?), then these stages will be hard-wired into that system, and will be key indicators feeding up into management reports and dashboards upon which forecasts and critical business decisions will be made. Continue reading “Improve sales governance with a well-defined opportunity lifecycle”
Improving win rate and accelerating deals requires that we have an accurate understanding of where we are with any given opportunity, so we can effectively plan next steps to advance the deal towards closure. Think of this as your “Sat Nav” for sales opportunities. Continue reading “Performing opportunity reviews and planning next steps with the essential sales process”
Having a good sales process helps the sales team qualify, plan and track their opportunities, supports accurate and consistent forecasting, and ultimately helps drive up win rates and revenues. However, many traditional sales processes remain unpopular with sales people as they are seen as too heavyweight, don’t match the way that teams actually sell, and lack the inherent agility to truly support them in their endeavours. Continue reading “Introducing the Essential Sales Process”
As solution sellers we all want to increase our win rate, our deal size, and get deals closed faster. We also need to provide accurate forecasts to our sales leaders, all with the minimal amount of admin. To do this we need to ensure we are qualifying well and focusing on the right deals. Our sales process should help us with all these things, and not get in the way by creating excessive process overhead. Continue reading “What makes a good solution sales process?”