listening

Sharing Your Sales Process for Better Results

Authored by Jim Eberlin on January 28, 2015

Usually when I hear the word “share”, it’s in a positive connotation and it’s in a sentence declaring something we should do. “We should share” is something we’ve heard since we were kids.  So, what if we completely shared our sales process with our prospects and existing customers that we have opportunities with? Could it be that we could engage more, drive deals quicker and be more predictive of which will close as a result?

In my previous companies, we were sales process hoarders. We created a sales process so that we knew opportunity status and next steps - but we kept it internal. The opportunity status was only discussed in the sales meetings and 1-on-1s for advice and input to get them closed.  And the sales rep privately reviewed opportunity status to strategize next steps.

Sales ProcessBut what I discovered was that if I share the process with the prospect, I could engage them more and learn a lot to help us both come to the right decision quickly of whether we were a solution for their compelling pain or need. By not sharing, or only sharing bits and pieces, it took longer to move someone through the process and sometimes they would get stuck along the way at a milestone within a sales stage. For those that got stuck, it was a struggle to come up with ways to kick start them again, and ultimately we would send the “break up” e-mail to try and get a response. By sharing the sales process early and at each stage, it was easier to explain why we needed to move to the next steps and why it should be at the proper cadence so that we don’t forget anything we learned along the way. This was especially helpful if we were evangelizing a prospect that didn’t have budget yet. It also helped if we were trying to get to additional people in the buying process.

So some of you are thinking, you already do this.  You already share the “close plan” with the prospect.

However, just using the word “close” causes issues. We actually renamed the “close plan” to the “decision plan.” If we are sharing our process, the prospect typically does not want to be “closed.” That would make it harder to get them to agree to the plan.  I don’t know of many buyers thinking to themselves “I hope someone closes me on something that can help my business today.” The right process becomes “the decision plan.”

So here’s three tips that will make the sales process that you share more effective and quicker to get to a decision.

  • Make each stage and milestone about them - don’t use terms that are sales speak or about “closing them.”
  • Make it clear at each stage (and milestone) what value you are offering the prospect and the importance of the next one.
  • Schedule the next meeting date at every meeting (assuming you have multiple meetings in the sales process), explaining the importance of not losing momentum of what was discovered in the current meeting.

By having a shared sales process with the prospect, you’ll be able to drive deals to quicker decisions and have much more predictability. Having a consistent process and getting everyone on the same page and agreement on status is important - so doesn’t it make sense that the prospect should be part of that consistent process?

Jim Eberlin is the founder and CEO of TopOPPS. Previous to TopOPPS, Jim was founder and CEO of Host Analytics and Gainsight, two market leaders located in Silicon Valley that have raised over $150 million in venture capital. Jim has several years in executive management within the software industry and he serves the tech entrepreneurial community by sharing his experience in early through growth stage.  

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Leverage these best practices with automation and AI driven by TopOPPS

Learn how our customers are winning with artificial intelligence in their CRM:

  • Predictive Sales Forecasting
  • Automated Pipeline Management
  • Significantly More Updates from Reps

Watch Videos

More Recent Posts:

October 23, 2019

Where 1 + 1 = 3 in the Sales Application Stack - Sales Enablement

  In my previous blog I outlined 21 different sales technology categories for the Sales Application Stack .  These categories were consolidated from various industry analysts research. That blog highlighted the difference between data integration and application embedding and highlighted the benefits of application embedding and selecting software vendors who have strategic partnerships with other software providers in the CRM application space.   The concepts of application embedding needs to be expanded with the concept of “application in context”.  “Applications in context” is applications working “in context” with applications to solve a series of problems in a consistent and cohesive manner without derailing the users thought process. ...

Sales Operations, Sales Tools, Sales Pipeline Management, Strategic Partnerships

September 20, 2019

The Emperor [CRM] is Naked

  One of the things I like to track are stories I heard in kindergarten that persist through life.  The Emperor’s New Clothes is one of them.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in meetings, listening to what is being discussed and ideas explored and wanted to yell out, “THE EMPEROR IS NAKED”. ...

Sales Operations, Sales Tools, Sales Pipeline Management, Strategic Partnerships

August 16, 2019

AI For Sales - Business Examples

  The last seven blogs provide a business-case approach to infusing AI through the entire sales process.  One of the purposes of this blog series was to demystify AI by using AI for Sales as an  example.  Media tends to portray AI as a magic bullet.  Actual implementations show the less “black box” an AI solution is and the more “glass box” approach, the more utility it provides to the user.  The utility is created by uncovering the key drivers of an outcome and managing those drivers to increase results. ...

Sales Operations, Sales Tools, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales

August 6, 2019

TopOPPS + Outreach Galaxy: AI Enhanced Guided Selling to Increase Win Rates

  Ever had the situation where: an important sales opportunity is in danger because of inactivity and it goes unnoticed; the opportunity is sold but they don’t have the budget till next quarter so the sales rep needs to “stay close”; or the opportunity wants to buy but “isn’t there yet” and needs further ongoing education?   ...

Pipeline Optimization, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, Guided Selling, guide winning behaviors

July 22, 2019

AI for Sales - Calculating the Sales Forecast

  I mentioned in my first blog on AI for Sales, when you hear the phrase “AI for sales forecasting” it feels like the solution is an algorithm to predict “the sales number”.  This is only partially correct.  While the ultimate goal is an accurate sales forecast, AI for sales forecasting requires artificial intelligence to be infused throughout the entire sales process.   The last 6 blogs have walked through different AI use cases for each of the different areas supporting the sales process to build a foundation for applying AI to create a more accurate sales forecast.  With that background we are ready to review AI use cases for calculating different versions of the sales forecast. ...

Pipeline Optimization, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales

June 5, 2019

AI for Sales - Sales Pipeline Management and Sales Rep Coaching

  This is the second of two blogs reviewing artificial intelligence use cases to support sales pipeline accuracy.    The first blog focused on artificial intelligence for guided selling. Guided selling is key to maintaining a realistic sales pipeline by ensuring that sales team rigor, discipline and process are consistent across all opportunities. This blog focuses on sales pipeline management and sales rep coaching.  It includes tools to help: ...

Pipeline Optimization, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales

April 16, 2019

AI for Sales - Guided Selling

  The next two blogs cover AI for the sales pipeline.  This blog focuses on AI for guided selling.  Guided selling is the process of prescribing optimal sales execution steps to the sales reps to enforce an efficient sales process.  The tasks and process are based on sales patterns of past close-won, and close-lost opportunities.  Guided selling is key to maintaining a realistic sales pipeline. ...

Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales, Sales Enablement

February 27, 2019

AI for Sales - Enhanced Data Collection

  An accurate sales forecast requires a crystal clean sales pipeline.  A crystal clean sales pipeline requires a deep history on most buyer/seller interactions for each opportunity.  By having a deep history of these interactions you can apply AI to identify buyer patterns and better guide the sales process.   Unfortunately most sales organizations do not have enough information about each opportunity to apply AI to assist in the sales process. ...

Sales Automation, Sales Tools, AI, Artificial Intelligence, AI for Sales