What is the intersection between optimal sales leadership... and the optimal use of today’s technology?
I see four areas that require attention. We can think of these areas as four pillars – four critical supports that the most effective sales leaders take full advantage of. Building a team without taking advantage of all four pillars is, in my view, a strategic mistake.
The first pillar is sales process, which is what I’ll be looking at in this article. In later pieces, I’ll examine sales methodology – which is not the same thing as sales process – at leadership itself, and at the buyer journey.
Technology impacts all four of these areas in different ways, and it’s up to us to understand how. If your technology isn’t supporting your efforts in any one of them, your team and your organization are not going to be working at optimal efficiency.
Let’s get started by taking a look at technology as it impacts your sales process.
The sales process comprises the steps we consistently follow, from the time that we’re looking for prospects, to the time that we’re servicing a happy customer.
This process is unique to each organization and selling team, and it’s something we as sales leaders are responsible for mapping out, refining, and sharing with every member of the team. The sales process should be the same within a given sales team. Teams in the same company that sell completely different things may have differences in their sales process, or may have areas of overlap, but within each team, there needs to be a process that each member of the team follows. The technology we use to interact with the team must not just share and reinforce our sales process… it must update that sales process over time.
It’s a mistake to think of our sales process as a static document, as something we can codify in a document or a spreadsheet and then be done with.
Markets are constantly changing. Best practices are constantly changing. Communication strategies with prospective buyers are constantly changing. Why wouldn’t we want our team’s sales process to reflect that ever-changing dynamic?
Would we really want the team to be using the exact same sales process three months from now that they’re using today? Wouldn’t that put us at a competitive disadvantage?
Whether it’s via a CRM, a weekly videoconference, or another communication platform or combination of platforms, we need to incorporate a live, continually updated document of the steps we agree the team will take to identify opportunities and move them forward. Everyone on the team needs to see, hear, and implement the updated version of this process on an ongoing basis.
This live document must give the best current answers to questions like:
- What is the goal of this process – keeping business, attaining new business, recapturing lost business, or expanding business – within this account? (There are likely to be separate processes for each of these goals. Different teams and different salespeople may have different priorities, so it’s our job as leaders to ensure that we are all on the same page about the priorities and processes used.)
- How do we find opportunities?
- With whom do we engage?
- How do we engage them?
- How do we qualify opportunities?
- When and how do we upsell?
- When and how do we cross-sell?
- How do we handle the handoff to the service and delivery teams?
- And so on.
Your team’s unique, continually adapting sales process deserves to be the foundation of all your technology decisions. In other words, everything should start here… because creating, sharing, and reinforcing the live document that expresses the right sales process is the first, and arguably most important, duty of the sales team’s technology.
If that’s a CRM that serves two hundred salespeople, the CRM needs to empower you to share, reinforce, and easily update your live sales process document(s). And if that technology is a shared Google Docs folder that serves five salespeople, that, too, should empower you to share, reinforce, and easily update your live sales process document(s).
In future articles, we’ll look at how our technology decisions support – or don’t support – our sales methodology, our responsibilities as a sales leader, and our buyer’s journey from opportunity to “raving fan.” For help in formalizing and updating your team’s sales process, connect with us.