Always Room for Improvement

Always Room for Improvement

Recently I worked with a client who has a “best in class” sales process. I was super impressed with the level of thought and detail that went into their process document. On paper, they include sales stages, steps within each stage, milestones for their customers, activities to be completed, team capabilities needed, and a success rate probability assigned to each stage. This sales process is widely communicated and is used to train new team members. It is consistently reinforced by the management team. I applaud their discipline and rigor!

In preparation for an upcoming sales meeting, the client’s leadership team decided to survey the commercial team to assess their understanding of the sales process and to garner feedback on the CRM. Senior leaders anticipated some negative feedback about the CRM, but assumed the sales process was well understood and followed.

When survey results were in, about 80% of the team felt the sale process was relevant for their role. That’s a decent percentage given that some functions were simply unaware of the process. However, to their surprise, only 60% of their sales team felt the sales process was effective. To put it differently, 40% questioned its effectiveness! Some of the key gaps were:

  • Training – Not all functions were trained on the sales process. Marketing and key customer support functions were unaware of the sales process, and thus didn’t understand their roles in supporting sales.
  • Missing elements – A key specification document that is required for every sales quote was not specifically identified in the sales process document. Generic terms were used to describe it, but the exact document and deliverable were not spelled out.
  • Success Rates – Many team members had little confidence in assigned success rates. Some couldn’t remember what they were; others simply didn’t feel they matched reality. For many in sales, the rates simply weren’t indicative of the probability of closing the deal.
  • CRM Alignment – Not every step of the sales process was reflected in the CRM. The CRM has many improvement opportunities, but at a minimum it should directly align with the sales process.

Fortunately, this leadership team is taking the necessary steps to address these deficiencies. They realize that even with a “best in class” sales process, there is always room for improvement.

How would your sales process stack up? Do you already have a “best in class” process that needs minor tweaks or are you still working on outlining your stages and steps? A good sales process need not be complex, but it should be clear, well communicated, and consistently followed.

At TopLine Results, we have a methodology for helping you define and improve your sales process. We don’t teach you how to sell, we help you sell more consistently and effectively. If you acknowledge that your sales process has room for improvement – whether a minor adjustment or a major overhaul – give us a call: 1-800-880-1960 or

About the Author
Melanie R. Varin 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.

Melanie’s certifications include: Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Silver Certified Microsoft partner and Registered Salesforce partner.

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