How Many Sales Processes Do You Need? Making The Case For One Sales Process Across The Organization
On October 1, 1990, The Human Genome Project (HGP) was begun and was completed in April of 2003. The HGP gave the world the ability, for the first time, to read nature’s complete genetic blueprint for building a human being. As it turns out, the genetic similarity between a human and a human is 99.9%. Despite humans having similar parts — two eyes, a nose, two ears, etc. — we look remarkably different. It’s just the 0.1% that differentiates us from each other.
The same division of hard-coded design versus malleable nuance applies to the ever-spirited sales process debate. Should sales processes be driven regionally or centralized at the corporate level?
Over the many years that I’ve worked with sales leaders, sales operations teams, sales enablement teams, and salespeople themselves, I’d heard all of the arguments in favor of designing and implementing unique sales processes across regions and business units. It usually sounds something like this:
“Our culture is different here.” “Our buyers are different.” “Our sales cycles are different.” “Things here just work differently.”
What I’ve come to understand and believe is that it’s not your sales process that needs to change region by region or business unit by business unit, but rather, it’s the attributes that offer organizations the best avenue to reflect and address these nuances. Ultimately, most organizations are united in the goal of profitable revenue growth, and a consistent sales process offers the best opportunity to realize that goal.
Sales Process And Attributes
Sales process: To design an effective sales process that is durable and maintains organizational integrity across business units, regions, and buyers, it’s important to define what a sales process is. A sales process defines what buyers and sellers do at each stage in the process. This is the organizational DNA, or 99.9%. Usually, it’s the organization’s five- or six-step process embedded within one’s sales force automation platform that defines the stages of the sales pipeline.
Sales attributes: Buyer-aligned sales process attributes are things like buyer roles, knowledge requirements, buyer activities, seller roles, sales activities, sales assets, and observable outcomes. By aligning seller activities to buyer needs, organizations can drive improved forecast accuracy, shorter sales cycle times, increased pipeline and opportunity visibility, and greater insights to impact the overall business. This is part of the 0.1% of an organization’s DNA.
There are six main factors to consider when defining attributes. While this list is not exhaustive, it will provide a solid foundation to guide your thinking:
- Opportunity types, buying group size, personas, and behaviors
- Average deal size and cycle time
- Corporate and regional culture
- Go-to-market model
- Legal and regulatory factors
- Product and offering mix
So, as you enter planning season, take this opportunity to revisit your sales process and associated attributes. How many sales processes do you have? Are they buyer aligned? Are they reflected in your sales force automation platform? Do they align to what you’re inspecting and expecting and reflected in your dashboards? What kinds of insights do your process(es) and attributes yield? Do they inform or create “data noise” to navigate?
The stages of the buyer-aligned sales process are the same globally. It’s the 99.9% of your organizational DNA. It’s what allows organizations to make insights-driven decisions, underpinned with consistent metrics, benchmarking, and reporting. It’s your process attributes that may be tailored to reflect your 0.1%. Your secret sauce.