Friday, January 14, 2011

"Just enough" sales process

The sales process defines the company's revenue production line. A formalized sales process, if diligently enforced, helps you ensure consistency across your sales teams, and consistency is key to measuring the health of the pipeline, forecasting, and scaling up.

At Identify Software, we had a 26(!) step sales process that covered pre and post sales activities. Sales reps were expected to religiously follow the process. They were trained on messaging and were not to divert from it. They had to document every step in the CRM system. Management spent substantial time on analyzing sales cycle metrics on a weekly basis.

Sales Process at Identify Software

At BMC, we had a 4 step sales process - interest, concurrence, evaluation, decision. Simple.

How detailed should the sales process be?

The answer depends on many factors, such as the type of the product or service being sold, desired skill set of the sales reps, management culture, geos covered and more. At Identify, the exceptionally detailed process enabled management to have stringent control over what sales reps were doing, and get immersed in analytical data.

This came at a price.

Blindly following a recipe leaves no room for creativity. No room for organic optimization. It also affects the type of people you can hire for the job. You can't ask Jamie Oliver to follow a recipe you have written.

So what is one to do? I believe in "just enough" process. Define a process that provides guidance, enables tracking and scaling, yet leaves room for creativity and local adjustments. Keep what works and eliminate what doesn't. After all, the goal is revenue and delighted customers. The process itself is not.