Today’s business world is like a high speed race track with many twist and turns due to the volatile marketplace.
Sales driven organizations are searching for ways to achieve competitive advantages, establish a loyal customer following and improve their overall sales efficiency and performance.
This can often prove to be an endless cycle of consideration. As the market changes, technology changes, company offerings change, the profile of customers change, and the game goes on.
Change is inevitable and it can be positive when organizations put themselves in a position to frequently analyze their customers buying approach and concurrently examine how well their own company’s sales approach aligns with the way customers want to buy.
Some key questions companies should ask themselves:
- Does your client buying process align with your company’s selling process?
- What are your client’s needs, expectations and requirements?
- What has your sales organization been provided to help meet your customer needs, expectation and requirements?
- When did your company last do this type of self-analysis?
- Do you have a strong customer/sales business match?
Continuously Re-Aligning Your Organization Around Your Market
It is not uncommon for high performance organizations to make a significant investment in an on-going analysis of their customers buying process and how that aligns with their current sales methodologies. A key reason for this “on-going analysis” is to remain on the cutting edge and in touch with their current clients and potential prospects in the marketplace.
Insuring alignment is not an easy thing to do from an insider’s perspective. This is often best done by an objective and dispassionate third party or consultant working on behalf of the client organization.
Companies are often too invested in the status quo and day-to-day operations to see themselves in an objective and open-to-change light. The objective consultant, acting as trusted advisor and partner, can help capture marketplace perspectives and provide both insights and suggestions to help improve their client’s go-to-market sales approach.
The Objective Win/Loss Analysis
One approach we use is to combine sales effectiveness discipline and best practice philosophies with proven survey research techniques. The strategic “win/loss” analysis is a great way to understand how well your company’s selling process is aligning with your target market.
To conduct a useful and objective win/loss analysis it is helpful to have good data on hand. By data we mean documented and granular customer win and loss records from sales initiatives over a period of time. We typically isolate wins and lost business opportunities over the most recent 6-9 month period.
The consultant then designs a research-based approach to contact (by phone or online survey) a representative set of accounts where there was a documented or verifiable new business “win”. Additionally, the same number of research survey calls/inquiries is made into a documented number of new business “losses”. This is easiest to do when this data is captured and retrievable from a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) that logs this information continuously over time.
By asking “winning” customers and “loosing” prospect representatives the same sales effectiveness set of questions, a picture is painted of best and worst sales practices. Additionally, this approach provides client companies with an objective read on how well their “selling” process aligns with their customer’s “buying” process.
Using Win/Loss Analysis to Improve Sales Alignment
When CRM captured data is available for a win/loss analysis the outputs can be very revealing. We typically recommend winning and losing business accounts be asked probing questions related to the sales execution of the client company being analyzed.
Typically questions are designed to ask respondents to rate the sales execution of the client organization on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being poor and 5 best. This rating scale allows post research analysis that correlates ratings with likelihood of winning or losing new business based on observed best and/or worst sales practices exhibited by the company in the marketplace.
Examples of effective sales probing questions include:
Please rate how well the salesperson who called on you…
- …demonstrated by the salesperson who called on you.
- …presented his/her value proposition as it relates to your needs?
- …explained the features/benefits of his/her products or services?
- … probed to uncover you true needs?
- …used strategic questions to uncover important information related to your needs?
By asking questions like these a company often learns how well or poorly its front line sales team is performing day to day. This information is vital to the future success of any organization and when captured and quantified it can help illuminate business, sales process, and personnel issues that warrant immediate action.
Selling today is a highly competitive activity with many different companies and/or brands that on the surface appear qualified to meet the customer’s needs/wants. Thus winning is often like a close horse race. Many different competitors may emerge for a time in the lead but the only thing that matters is who is ahead at the tape. Effective sales force execution is key to winning in the game of business.
The Benefits of Strategic Self Examination
The strategic goal of this objective marketplace powered self-examination practice is to refine fundamental aspects of a company’s sales process and to insure that it aligns with its customer’s buying process. Additionally the goal is to ultimately create a customer-centric perspective within the organization.
Done right this process results in:
- An integrated customer-centric focus (recognizing new needs, expectations and requirements of customers) with a sales driven culture.
- A strategy that focuses on evolving standardized sales processes.
- An integrated set of marketing tools, technology and sales executional strategies.
A strategy to Integrate training & coaching processes with over-all performance.
Often organizations will claim they are a sales driven because they are driven by growth and increased revenues. These can be important strategic goals, but is it enough to achieve these sales objectives?
The disconnect becomes when we set our eyes on the strategic goal and lose sight of needed tactical goals. This happens when a company becomes self-centered in their focus and has no defined client buying strategy, no defined sales strategy and no alignment between their external clients (buyers) and internal clients (sales professionals and support professionals).
Developing a Customer-Centric-Sales Driven Organization
To help prevent this disconnect in the marketplace and truly become a Customer Centric-Sales Driven organization it is important to revolutionize your sales and marketing strategy by mapping your external client’s needs, expectations and requirements to standardized sales methodologies and best practices of internal clients. We call this the process of creating a customer to sales business match.
Additionally it is important to put the above strategy in place and to invest in an organization that will actually take the time to conduct a customer centric-sales mapping process. This process dissects the buying/selling process by mapping and defining the phases of the company’s sales process with the buying process, including clearly outlined steps & activities to effectively execute each phase of the process.
This strategic sales mapping process should identify needed tools, technology and training to help the internal clients (sales professionals & support professionals) effectively manage to the process, along with a clear understanding of the external client’s expected outcomes for each one of these phases.
Once the mapping process has been objectively concluded then you have the engine of the business and the other necessary internal parts can be designed to insure performance efficiencies. An example of additional performance parts would be creating needed marketing tools to support the sales effort. Another example of a performance part would be to ensure the companies investment extends to the daily sales execution is by reinforcing the defined sales processes with ongoing sales training and coaching.
The over-all objective of sales process mapping is to make sure that all the parts come together, so your organization has a high performance, customer focused and centric sales engine.
Where to go for Help
Many different organizations provide sales consulting. We recommend a strategic sales effectiveness practice that works with global firms across a myriad of industries and geographies.
Our firm provides objective win/loss analysis programs and sales process mapping consulting to companies in multiple competitive industries. Done strategically we can almost guarantee results that will result in impressive top line sales growth, shorter sales cycles, and better overall customer retention.
Improving Your Company’s Sales Effectiveness Now
If you have taken an objective assessment of your sales organization and how customers/prospects view it…. now might be the time to take action. At Ascension we work hands-on with clients all over the world to help them optimize their sales staff, go-to-market sales structure, processes, sales compensation, and integration with contact management or CRM systems.
If you feel now might be a great time to fine tune your consultative sales approach to growth contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our sales effectiveness team works with B2B and B2C global sales organizations just like yours.
We’d love to help your drive your top line through improved customer engagement.