Barry Trailer is the Research Principal and Co-Founder of CSO Insights.
Want a silver bullet to increased quota attainment? The magic pill to making your number year after year? The bottom lineon more than two decades of research with more than 40,000 survey respondents?Wait for it…Short answer. Quick answer. Honest answer. Sales process. Yup.
Not sexy but absolutely freaking true. Not kidding. What’s interesting is this really doesn’t come as news to anyone and, yet, it is remarkably absent in day-to-day consistency of execution. And, that’s the word, consistency.
Sales process? Yeah, we’ve got that. Sort of. Use it, measure with and against this standard on a regular, ongoing basis? Reinforce, enforce and continually improve it? Yeah, no; not so much.
What’s interesting is the same sales managers that are such fans of, and recognize the value of, persistence in their reps, lose their love for persistence when implementing sales process. And yet, our research has been consistent for over a decade now: higher levels of relationship (from Approved Vendor up to Trusted Partner) and higher levels of sale process implementation increase (from Random to Dynamic) correlate with higher levels of revenue plan and rep quota attainment, and more.
So, if this isn’t news (it’s not) and it’s true (it is), why the resistance? What is it that keeps sales managers/management from seriously and consistently implementing sales process?
An early observation we’ve made of many sales managers is that the process is “interesting” but what’s of interest are the results. This strikes us as exactly backwards; that a more helpful orientation is having the results being interesting but what is/should really be of interest is the process. This may seem like we’re just playing word games—we’re not.
You can be intensely interested in the results but, no matter how much you study results, they’re not going to change—by definition, results are already done. However, by being intensely interested in the process, you can identify patterns that are early predictors (leading indicators) of things going well, or poorly. You can manage process steps but you can only monitor results. Again, because “in process” means things are still happening, whereas, results are, well, done.
For 10 years, CSO Insights has been tracking sales performance using the Sales Relationship Process (SRP) Matrix. We’ve defined 3 performance levels (see illustration) across the matrix. Suffice to say, the red zone is generally a low performing, no man’s land, where you’ll find yourself scraping for low margin, hyper-competitive, scraps of business. Moving UP and OVER on the matrix translates to moving up in performance and success. Here’s the key takeaway for today’s discussion: moving over, that is, implementing higher levels of sales process, is wholly with in your organization’s hands. Creating, sustaining, andexpanding a culture of transparency, and continuing process improvement is the success formula (see: “magic pill,” “silver bullet” above) you are seeking.
Sales management is always looking for a “lever” they can use to improve performance. Sales process is that lever. However, a lever without a fulcrum is just a stick. Your front-line sales managers are the fulcrum to consistent process implementation, process-based (i.e., data-driven) coaching and professional development to take your organization to the next level.
TopOPPS has helped hundreds of Sales Leaders increase their team's performance level through enforcing sales process rigor that enables Sales Reps to focus on selling to their best deals. To learn if we can help you, contact us!