The concept of ‘winning the hearts and minds’ of your sales force is becoming popular in the world of sales training. As we discussed in an earlier blog post, winning the hearts and minds of sellers happens when you give salespeople decision-making tools that remove ambiguity, create clarity of task for each seller, and equip them with tools, resources, and coaching that is highly targeted and relevant. However, clarity of task doesn’t just emerge out of thin air. There must be a framework that provides both sales managers and sellers with clarity of task… A framework built on sales processes.
Unfortunately, sales process has earned a bad rap in recent years. In fact, process has become somewhat of a dirty word in the sales world, but recent research may give sales process a much-needed boost to its image.
If you mention ‘sales process’ to sales managers and their sellers, they envision restrictive controls that dictate their every move yet rarely result in improved sales. But are processes themselves to blame? In the organizations where we have witnessed sales processes fail time and time again, it’s usually because the processes are over-engineered and too burdensome OR the processes are not robust enough to remove ambiguity and create the desired clarity of task for sellers. In both cases, the problem is usually not with the sales processes themselves, but with the amount of processes in place.
A new beginning
Research is beginning to show that formal sales processes have become a prerequisite for sales force improvement. A study conducted by CSO Insights reveals that companies with more developed sales processes win 53% of their forecasted deals, compared to 43% of deals won by companies with undefined processes. Further research from CSO Insights reveals that 65% of sales reps in companies with more rigorous sales processes achieved their quota, compared to 56% in companies that lack formal sales processes. In addition, 88% of companies with highly sophisticated sales processes reached their company’s overall sales goals, compared to 78% of companies with ad hoc sales processes, but the processes don’t just benefit a company’s bottom line. Findings published by the Journal of Business Research suggest that sellers who work under a well-defined control system have increased performance, higher job satisfaction, and lower burnout and stress compared to salespeople working under overly bureaucratic, clan, or low control combinations. How’s that for winning the hearts and minds of sellers?
The Process of Winning Hearts and Minds
Without process, there’s no clear path for sellers regarding which results are to be attained and the activities that will lead to the desired results. But conversely, too much process leads to frustration, low adoption, and burnout. If you want to win the hearts and minds of your sales force, put just enough process rigor in place to get the job done… But no more. When your sales processes create a high-level of clarity for your sellers, then sales force motivation, commitment, and performance will follow closely behind.