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Streamline your sales process to identify opportunities.

Streamlining is the practice of identifying and eliminating ineffective or obsolete activities. When the market gets tight, being efficient and effective matters.

This article provides an example — the review and streamlining of a vital business function — the sales process.

Our client was seeking to improve sales performance overall. The top line growth trend they had experienced over the past several years was waning and they were not sure the reasons why. Together, we reviewed the sales process to streamline and improve performance — an overview of the approach and results are below.

1 - Analyze the current state.

The analysis started with a review of the sales team structure, supporting processes and workflows, an understanding of reporting in place and the technology and tools involved. The people who performed sales support helped provide important insights and feedback about what works, what doesn’t and contributed ideas for improvements.

By mapping an existing process, you’ll be able to identify bottlenecks, redundancies, and areas where time and resources are wasted. Certainly, it helps you more clearly see those items that warrant discussion.

2 - Agree objectives.

We established clear and measurable objectives for the sales operation.

From a leadership perspective, the primary business objective was to understand why revenue was now lagging following a strong period of growth.

The extended team also helped identify objectives, including what support they believed would be beneficial for better performance.

Finally, we added a best-practice objective — to agree and implement a series of simple metrics, to monitor performance. Targeted metrics and reporting would help leadership understand sales performance (daily, monthly, weekly) as well as help the team to identify what actions to take in real time, in order to drive to the desired results.

3 - Create the ideal state.

Once you have mapped the current state and identified what works and where there are opportunities for improvement, and overlaying this with the agreed objectives, you are ready to plan the ideal state. The ideal state is the proposed future state where supporting processes are optimized, waste is eliminated, efficiency is maximized, all in an effort to achieve the planned performance results.

Your plan for the ideal state can, and should, be simple. Include specific actions to take and any important requirements for each change. Things like —

  • What

    The items, processes and activities, all described in a ‘from : to’ state.

  • How

    Exactly how to achieve the change being sure to identify supporting tools or necessary resources which will be needed.

  • When

    Create a simple timeline. Some changes are easy and quick and may be made immediately while others will take more time.

    Prioritize the sequence based on either importance or effort, resources and time. The goal is to make changes that will improve the overall process or activity and support the business objectives you’ve outlined.

  • Who

    Make sure all plan assignments are specific, clear and achievable. Also be sure to assign a single point person — the project leader — who is responsible to follow up on all assignments and status and generally, to see the project through to completion.

4 - Execute the plan.

What’s left? Execute your plan.

An important element of business transformation is that, in most cases, the activity should not take over the entire team’s resources. Business will still go on, customers will have needs and things don’t necessarily ‘stop’ for you and your team to make internal changes.

Periodic check-ins will ensure the plan is tracking correctly and make shifts or changes when something is not working.

5 - Measure results; refine as necessary.

Following the work you and your team have completed to make operational improvements, you’ll need to measure results to ensure the objectives are being met. If not, take a look at the specific gaps, and remedy them.

Here’s the rest of the story — below are the changes we helped our client make, and the resulting benefits.
Training and development of a team.

Sales was decentralized across the business. What that meant was there was no one person who was managing the macro performance of the ‘group’. A longstanding member of the leadership team took on the role of Sales Director and the staff from multiple departments who generally prepared client proposals became members of the newly formed sales team.

Our client invested in training for the newly formed group to ensure they each had the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles.

Practical use of technology and metrics.

A simple CRM (Client Relationship Management) platform was implemented to help centralize customer data and automate select tasks as well as provide a central repository of detailed contact information and communications history.

The CRM helped provide metrics and reporting. The team learned how to use the metrics to prioritize their efforts and monitor progress. Those metrics included — pipeline, proposals outstanding (age and offer), average deal size and win/loss rates.

Analysis drives action.

A key learning from the new data was that certain types of proposals were never secured. The team quickly began to focus on more promising leads and not waste time on lower-quality opportunities.

The new CRM reporting also allowed the team to critically analyze their customer data. Parsing and reviewing the database in key segments (industry, demographics, buying behaviors, purchase history) fostered improved sales strategies and communications far more effectively.

Pipeline growth.

In short order, our client gained critical insights and fundamentally changed the approach to their sales process. The pipeline target was maintained and proposals were followed up on regularly to address prospect questions, and importantly deploy targeted efforts to close each sale.

The takeaway.

By optimizing and streamlining your business operations, you can increase efficiency and effectiveness of your team’s efforts and achieve the results you seek.

Lovely People is here to help you streamline and enhance your operations for better outcomes. Let’s talk.

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