Finding Lost Sales Revenue: It's All About the Process

Most companies today have a sales process in place, but whether it is used consistently may be another matter. Even skeptics admit that following a well-defined and efficient sales process is a crucial part of success. Results of recent studies, including a report by the Sales Management Association, show that firms using sales processes to guide sales activities report 30 percent greater profits than those that do not.

Another Sales Management Association study finds that 36 percent of high-performing companies say that their best salespeople utilize sales processes all the time; this is the case for only 5 percent of low-performing companies. 

The past year has seen increasing focus on adding strong processes to CRM solutions that lacked them—and while that's great, taking a process approach to selling requires more than just software. Here are three tactics that savvy sales leaders can apply to make sure they are leveraging strong sales processes to increase their revenue.

1. Test and modify processes. Processes help eliminate lost opportunities, which essentially equate to lost revenues. A major industry consultancy issued a report in early 2015 saying that in the next two years, insufficient business process management maturity will prevent 80 percent of organizations from achieving their desired business outcomes. That is why savvy sales leaders constantly test and modify their processes. Organizations that periodically redefine their sales processes have better sales results and deliver better customer experiences.

It's important to adapt customer-facing processes in response to a rapidly changing business environment. Outdated processes result in fewer sales and decreased customer loyalty. Innovation is also stifled without tools for process analysis and continual improvement. That is why it pays to utilize automated process-driven sales technology and have the agility to change sales processes as fast as your business needs change and grow.

Experience shows that an efficient sales process, deeply incorporated into a business strategy and diligently acted upon, delivers higher return on investment (ROI). For example, a leading B2B telemarketing agency reported an astonishing ROI of 1,281 percent only three months after its deployment of process-driven CRM. Its success lies in the processes that guide sales reps and automate their routine operations. This helped the company to better serve their clients and get higher ROI.

2. Foster sales process adoption. Well-performing processes are the hallmark of any highly productive sales force. Pelco by Schneider is a good example of a company that chose to apply an outcome-based sales methodology, with clearly established goals, to incentivize consistent sales process adoption using a process-driven CRM. Pelco's stakeholders implemented the process-driven CRM in 26 countries and across five continents. It took only eight weeks to bring a tailored process to its unique market situation. The company increased sales efficiency and identified bottlenecks in the process while keeping sales and operational departments on the same page to facilitate faster responses to customer needs. 

When complemented by other CRM capabilities, such as lead management and forecasting, an emphasis on processes helps an organization free up sales reps, allowing them to spend more time selling, resulting in greater productivity and increased revenue.

3. Formalize and automate sales processes wherever possible. To help sales forces reach a new level of productivity, teams should clearly define and formalize a sales process. According to the Harvard Business Review, there was an 18 percent difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and companies that did not. A CSO Insights study also found that a formalized sales process leads to a 65 percent increase in individual reps hitting their targets, and an 88 percent increase in companies hitting their targets.

Once defined, the sales process should be automated to help sales teams be successful and minimize the time and effort required for them to leverage the technology. Automating critical tasks also helps in that salespeople don't have to take up valuable time thinking about them. This is when the CRM system and the process becomes a true helper, not a burden or distraction. Automation also minimizes manual intervention and with it the possibility of error.

Successful sales reps understand that their performance depends not only on how many calls or meetings they set up and have, but also on how focused they stay on activities that bring them closer to closing deals and making more money. A clearly defined and easy-to-follow process helps them to achieve the most ambitious sales goals, while dramatically improving overall business metrics and revenue. 

Michael Rooney is senior vice president and general manager at bpm’online—a premium vendor of process-driven CRM software for marketing, sales, and service automation.

(1) (2) http://salesmanagement.org/resources/single-article/process-vs-technology-the-battle-for-sales-productivity-in2015

(3) http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2968317

(4) https://hbr.org/2015/01/companies-with-a-formal-sales-process-generate-more-revenue

(5) http://www.zywave.com/blogs/2015/04/15/do-you-have-a-sales-process/

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