There is always time to implement changes that can improve your sales process for the year to come. Even if you already have a strong process in plan, there are always places where you can further improve.
Here are 11 suggestions for optimizing your sales process:
1. Invest time and resources in sales forecasting.
Sales forecasting frustrates many sales managers because of the uncertainty involved. But improving your methods can help you clarify your overall sales strategy and make informed changes to your process.
If your current forecasting process isn’t producing accurate results, consider investing in new tools. The process doesn’t have to be guesswork and wishful thinking. Many sales organizations find it helpful to run multiple scenarios or to rely on multiple tools when forecasting. This allows them to develop a more complete picture of different possibilities.
Set aside time every month to review your forecasts so that you’re maximizing their utility. They don’t do much good if you just churn out a forecast at the beginning of the quarter and then forget about it.
2. Use collaboration platforms and tools for intra-sales team communication.
Most sales, especially larger deals, are a team effort. So it’s critical that your team members are able to communicate efficiently with one another. If you’re still relying on long, unwieldy email threads, it may be time to upgrade. Think about implementing something like Slack or Basecamp to simplify communications. These tools can also be great for communicating with clients, so it helps optimize the sales process in multiple ways.
3. Implement a system for prioritizing new leads.
All salespeople know that leads aren’t created equal. To help them prioritize the most promising leads, you need a data-based system. The beginning of the year is a great opportunity to review your lead scoring system and make changes as necessary. You can also experiment with predictive analytics tools that rank leads based on their likelihood of closing soon. Some tools even provide actionable tips for which steps to take next with each lead.
4. Provide the right apps to optimize your sales process.
Many sales reps spend too much time on tasks that don’t add much value to the sales process. You want to ensure that the process is ultra-easy for them by providing them with the right tools. Tools for invoicing like FreshBooks and Invoicera, providing quotes like Vendavo, and storing contact information like Zoho and Salesforce.
Even if you already have tools for this, the beginning of the year is a good opportunity to check in with your reps and ensure that the tools are working as intended for them.
5. Implement checklists for each stage of the process.
Processes work best when they are simple, yet clearly defined. Thus, checklists can be a great tool for implementing standardized processes.
You might, for example, create a five-point checklist that outlines the most important steps for preparing for a prospecting call. Methods like this still enable sales reps to exercise their own judgment, while offering necessary guidance. New representatives especially may find this useful as they adjust to their role.
6. Create a process for social prospecting.
Social prospecting represents the future of sales, so if you’re not already taking advantage of this, you need to start. Assess how well your reps understand social prospecting as individuals and collectively. Then, create opportunities for representatives to learn. More social media-savvy sales reps can help educate those who are less familiar with these techniques.
But don’t just give your reps training. Establish an expectation that everyone devotes a certain amount of time every week towards social selling. You should also start tracking social selling KPIs to create accountability.
7. Incentivize representatives to focus on sales-generating activities.
The beginning of the year is a great time for putting together a sales contest, or another activity that encourages representatives to develop good habits for 2019. Identify which activities your representatives need to be doing more, and create incentives to encourage the behavior.
8. Make sales enablement content more accessible for your team.
Marketing teams spend a lot of time creating sales enablement content, which can be critical in helping sales reps to close a deal. But many reps aren’t making adequate use of this resource, in large part because it’s not always accessible to them.
Educate representatives on the importance of sales enablement content and where they can find it. Upload the content to your CRM or sales enablement software so that it’s extra-easy for them to find and use. You may also create incentives for good usage of content.
9. Update your sales playbook to include all relevant information.
Your sales playbook can be an invaluable resource to new and experienced reps alike, but it’s less useful if you haven’t updated it in a year or two. Take the time to review your sales playbook to ensure that it’s accurate and up-to-date.
Beyond simply updating the content, review the playbook for accessibility. Explanations that are unclear or overly long aren’t likely to be helpful. Involve sales reps in the review process.
10. Train your sales reps to reduce the time spent checking the email.
Like most people, your sales reps are probably spending a lot of time checking their email. That can be a problem because it detracts from the time they spend on more obviously productive activity like prospecting, preparing sales presentations, etc. Tell your sales reps that, for the new year, you’d like for them to check their email at designated times of the day only.
11. Automate administrative tasks as appropriate.
Many parts of the sales process can be successfully automated, including many things related to generating leads at the top of the pipeline. Consider automating so that sales reps can give a personal touch to more important activities.