Is Your Sales Process Broken? How Do You Know?

Is Your Sales Process Broken?  How Do You Know?

If you are in an organization that sells and markets products or services, you are likely to have:

  1. A solid sales process
  2. A broken sales process
  3. No sales process at all.

If you have no sales process, then you need one!  According to the Sales Executive Council, 90% of sales organizations that follow a structured sales process demonstrate improved overall results.

If you have a solid sales process, then you need to ask yourself if it is working well or working great.  If you think there’s room for improvement, then getting some professional assistance may be a small investment with a big payback.

If you know you have a broken sales process, then you are probably already fixing it. But how do you know if the process is broken or not?  What do you look for?

Signs of a broken sales process are most apparent during transitions.  When one sales rep leaves and another sales professional fills in – either on an interim basis or permanently – the handoff is rarely seamless.  The more broken the process, the more traumatic the transition.  The same applies when a new sales manager is put in place.  Whether backfilling for an existing role or creating a new role on a growing team, the transition will be easier when the sales process is working.

How smooth are the transitions on your team?  Are they minor setbacks or major upheavals?  Is your process, or lack thereof, a root cause of the hiccup?

Internal Cycle Time
Another sign of a broken sales process is internal cycle time to close a deal.  You can influence, but cannot control, the cycle time of your customer.  However, you have full control of your organization’s internal cycle time.  Do you have a clear and streamlined process for discount approvals?  How about the steps required for changing terms and conditions based on unique customer requests?  Is it transparent who does what and how long it takes?  Is there unnecessary confusion that leads to delays?  Do you have a back-up process when key players are on vacation or ill?

Is your internal cycle time longer than it should be?  Could that be leading to fewer deals?

One of the most important outcomes of a broken sales process is a financial forecast that bears no resemblance to reality.  When every sales representative and sales manager has a different definition about how soon a deal will close and the probability of actually winning the deal, then consolidating those disparate inputs leads to a wildly unpredictable forecast with a wide variance month to month and quarter to quarter.  Having solid definitions and consistent success probabilities will allow for streamlined and meaningful consolidation of the various inputs.  A rollup of that data will lead to insightful predictions.

How much confidence do you put in the forecasts from your sales organization? Do you consistently have to scale them back or spend time recreating your own projections?

Having a broken sales process is like having a broken leg and pretending it will get better on its own.  Unless you see a medical professional and get some good advice and great care, you will continue to limp along.  You don’t realize your opportunity costs, because you are focused on your pain and simply surviving.

Don’t waste your energy or your time limping along with a broken process; reach out to someone who can help.  Invest a little to earn a lot.  Look for a professional team focused on sales process – not just how to sell.  TopLine Results can help.  Contact us today at or 1-800-880-1960 x209.

May the force (of a great sales process) be with you!

About the Author
Melanie R. Varin is Chief Operating Officer and consultant for TopLine Results Corporation.  Melanie specializes in business process consulting for organizations across many industries. With more than 30 years of business expertise, Melanie focuses on providing clients with winning strategies for improving their sales, marketing and overall business processes from assessment to implementation.

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