How Business Owners and new managers can build out their Sales Process.

1) Crawl: Document what you’re doing today!

Again, this is something I talk about frequently in my workshops for the US Small Business Administration, SCORE chapters, chambers of commerce and business associations. At this stage, I find that the businesses don’t generally have processes. I often refer to this as guerilla marketing and sales organizations. In this case, that’s not a good thing. Imagine that I hand you a rifle and send you out into the jungle to fight with no training, team, or strategy. How likely are you to be successful? Or how likely are you to die in the process? Does that maybe sound familiar to your Sales team1? It’s simple. There is no sales process worse than not having a sales process.

1 The average tenure of salesperson in the US is less than 24 months. Either you’ll quit them or they’ll quit you but no salesperson ever took a job because they didn’t want to be successful. Salespeople are, by nature optimists. If you give them good tools, processes and education they’ll go a lot farther

This is why I always advocate for starting simple. Get going with a basic 3-4 step process. Look at what the best salesperson in the organization is doing. If that’s the owner, so be it. Start with what’s worked or is working. Don’t over think it. Your team is starting from ground zero so you don’t throw an NFL playbook at them to try and execute. That’s another recipe for disaster. It’s the KISS principle. Keep it Simple Stupid. Get the team started, then later you can add a few more steps and start to get real data.

Next, get a CRM tool and use. I’m talking about actually getting your team using it and not treating it like a glorified electronic Rolodex. Far too many organizations have salespeople who don’t log anything in CRM other than contact names and maybe some top line opportunity value.

In part, it’s because they don’t trust the CRM and how you’ll use the data. In part, it’s because there are a lot of really bad CRM implementations. I see a lot of organizations that purchase a CRM tool, don’t spend the money to implement the business process logic in the tools and then complain that it doesn’t work. I had a company call me last year and they started the conversation with “Salesforce failed”. I told them, nope…Salesforce is a good tool, it didn’t fail them, they failed Salesforce2. They let an IT person go pick the CRM tool, didn’t give the project any budget and got stuck using it “out of the box”. This is a national company with people locations from Florida to Seattle, New York to California! Your business isn’t “out of the box…nobody’s is! Find the right CRM tool that fits your needs, technology environment and budget and implement it correctly!!! Identify the key milestones in the sales process, and don’t give your sales team members a free pass on when they don’t use the system. Bad data is almost worse than no data and there’s just no excuse. Senior management/ownership doesn’t want to spend money you say? Ask them what the value of their business is because here’s the real deal. The value of your business in today’s world is about what you know about your prospects and clients. That’s what a buyer is getting. No data=no value.

2. (For the record I’m not a huge Salesforce fanboy. There are other good tools out there. Most companies don’t need a Ferrari.)