Sales Process Mapping, Work-Flow, Roadmap, Playbook… Essentials for Effective Sales Management and Funnel Staging…

“A sales team’s fundamental job is to move a greater number of larger deals through the sales process in less time.” “ There should be no reason that the principles of process engineering would not work in the sales process”. ~ Joseph Juran, process expert.

Sales process mapping is a proven analytical and communication tool intended to help improve existing processes or to implement a new process-driven structure in order to improve sales.  Documenting the sales process; literally creating a graphic and textual representation of the steps being used to create and support the sales organization.

For companies who have repeatable processes in place, process mapping can be used to analyze the proposed solution; as conditions, customers, or markets change. Sales process mapping is the documentation of discrete activities involved in completing the sales cycle; from point-of-customer contact through information-gathering to closure and fulfillment.

Beyond sales and marketing there are many more layers of support and customer service people whose roles create touch-points within the sales process.  If sales roles throughout the organization are not well understood these supporting roles suffer… 

In the article “Why Have A Sales Process?” by Andrew Rowe writes: A sales process is something that every company needs to be able to define and master in order to boost their sales performance and accelerate their overall top-line growth. Sales processes, by definition, are repeatable and scaleable sequence of events that yields consistent sales results. Sales process is broken down into a number of different aspects, including the business selling model: Is it transactional? Is it enterprise? Is in consultative?

Is it customer-centric? … In addition, the sales process typically defines the actual sales work-flow as it relates to movement of prospects through the sales pipeline; from prospects to being qualified to being fully developed and then to closing the sale. A sales process will typically provide a work-flow which includes a process map and a break down of the different stages of the sales process as it relates to sales forecasting and probabilities.

A sales process map is a logic diagram to show exactly how the work-flow looks. Without a well defined sales process the selling method is left up to individuals without having to follow any particular set of rules or disciplines. This ad-hoc method of selling leads to stunted growth, stagnant sales, and too much dependency on the individual. Whereas, a sales process is well documented and defined, and allows the business to easily hire, train, and accelerate a salesperson’s selling productivity.

In the article “What is a Process Map?” by Chris Anderson writes: A “process map” visually describes the flow of activities of a process. A process flow can be defined as the sequence and interactions of related process steps, activities or tasks that make up an individual process, from beginning to end. Process maps are used to develop a better understanding of a process, to generate ideas for process improvement or stimulate discussion, build stronger communication, and — of course — to document a process.

Often times a process map will highlight problems and identify bottlenecks, backflows, waste, duplication, delays, or gaps. Process maps can help to clarify process boundaries, ownership, responsibilities, and effectiveness measures or metrics. Process maps can be very effective at increasing understanding during training. Most important, process mapping is about communicating your process to others, so you can achieve your objectives.

In the article “Sales Process” by Wikipedia writes:  A sales process is a systematic approach to selling a product or service. Reasons for having a well thought-out sales process include seller and buyer risk management, standardized customer interaction in sales, and scalable revenue generation. An effective sales process can be described through steps that walk a salesperson from meeting the prospect all the way through closing the sale.

Often a bad sales experience can be analyzed and shown to have skipped key steps. This is where an effective sales process mitigates risk for both buyer and seller. A solid sales process also has the dramatic impact of forecasting accuracy and predictability in revenue results.

Mapping a sales process provides a starting point for careful analysis and continuous improvement. Diagramming a process flow is considered to be one of the seven basic quality improvement tools. From a seller’s point of view, a sales process mitigates risk by stage-gating deals based on collection of information or execution of procedures that gate movement to the next step.

This controls seller resource expenditure on non-performing deals. A formalized sales process is generally more common for companies that either have complex sales cycles, large revenue risks that require systematic assurance of revenue generation, and/or those that choose to use a more consultative or customer-centric sales approach.

In the article “How to Apply a Strategy Map to the Sales Process” by Adam Tavangaran writes: A strategy map could be one way to make sure that you stay on track and your team knows what it is doing, Making a strategy map for your sales plans could help you achieve success. It  brings your sales team together to discuss the different ways in which you think you can improve targeting customers and selling products. Talk about the sales strategies that you already have in place and figure out ways in which you can improve the tactics you are employing.

The better that you are able to improve on what you’re already using, the more successful your sales team. Build your strategy map around the customer…discuss with your team all of the ways that you can move product or service closer to the customer. Build the connections on your strategy map between your sales team and the customer, such that there is convergence with the customer … the quicker the mapping shows convergence between sales and customer, the greater the probability for success…

In the blog “How to Avoid the Four Most Common Mistakes of Sales Process Mapping” by Michael J. Webb writes:  Process mapping is a well-known technique for creating a common vision and shared language for improving business results. For example, it helped one firm realize that people within their sales department had been working at cross purposes, and crucial executive-level discussions with customers were not taking place.

Based on sales process mapping, the leaders reorganized their sales operations so that job descriptions and performance measures focused more on the customer. In six months, they reversed a five-year slump and earned big bonuses for team members. In another case, sales process mapping helped a national account teams discover a powerful new way to coordinate with field salespeople, yielding far more new business opportunities than expected.  

Sales process mapping, accomplished through team collaboration, with clear focus on customer value at every stage is a power tool for blowing away roadblocks and constraints. In sum, sales process mapping provides mission-critical benefits to any customer-facing organization…sales process mapping works…

In the article Is Your Sales Process Flawed?” writes: The holy grail of selling is to find the perfect sales process, but all sales processes are fundamentally flawed and fail to produce predictable results. To predict the outcome from any process, including a sales process, you must control all the variables. Unfortunately, a key variable in all sales processes is the buyer, and we can’t control them, nor should we want to.

This explains why attempts to use a sales process will produce unreliable results and just don’t work. However, a buyer-centric approach does work and unlike a conventional sales process, it requires salespeople to how the buyer wants to buy. It is non-manipulative, ethical, and straightforward. And unlike traditional sales processes, it is effective.

Salespeople must know how to identify the buying stages and inflection points that their prospects go through on the way to a decision. The buying process is central and a key essential is to visually map the buyer’s process…

In the article The Selling Process is a Sales Map to Success” by Steve Martinez writes: Salespeople get lost in sales because they don’t have a map. I have to confess, there was a time when I didn’t have a sales map. It was a challenge, not knowing where I was or where the prospect was in the sales process. The routine of making sales calls and doing the sales activities just didn’t get the results…

It would be years later that I would fine tune my sales process and develop the GPS (Global Positioning System) or mapping system for selling. If sales process and sales map are foreign to you, or you can’t tell where you are with each prospect, there are ways to calculate your position. No, the answer isn’t in the stars. Once you understand the sales process and mapping, selling gets easier…  

The Sales Playbook – What is it? What is the right way to sell your solution?  Is there a specific approach, a set of experiences that if shared among the sales team would make everyone more successful?  Sports teams use playbooks to diagram and map out the exact steps to advance the ball and achieve a win. Sales organizations can benefit from the same type of planning and strategy by using a sales playbook.

A sales playbook is a documented guide containing information and experiences on the most successful ways to sell your product.  The sales playbook is the accumulated wisdom of reps, managers, marketing staff and others who have had experience selling to your customers. It is not a static document, but an ever growing repository of experiences, successes, tactics and strategies.  Why should the latest sales rep you hire make the same mistakes as your first?  With a sales playbook, new reps can learn from all who have sold before them, and can add what they learn to benefit future hires.

In the article “Sales Process” writes: Companies that deploy a formal sales process, when compared to the mean, win 48% more, have sales cycles 37% shorter, and generate 2x the revenue per salesperson. The reason they have been able to consistently produce above average results is due, in part, to a formal sales methodology that’s followed to manage their opportunities.

A sales process facilitates a focus on having a clear understanding of the customers buying process, mapping the company’s sales process directly to it, defining the needed work flows, and managing to the mission critical process of accelerating the opportunity from one stage to the next. A sales process produces results: Increase sales close ratios, shorten sales cycles, increase revenues, improve sales funnel management, and more transparency for better sales forecasting…

In the article “But We Have a Sales Process” by David Brock writes: One reason sales people and managers don’t use a sales process is because it may have become/or is irrelevant.  Over time, the way customers buy products changes, as well as, markets, competition, and solutions change.  What may have been a great sales process 5 years ago may be irrelevant today.  If your sales people aren’t following the sales process, but consistently winning business; reassess and update your sales process. 

The only thing worse than not using a sales process is using an irrelevant sales process and experiencing plummeting win rates, long sales cycles, and loss of competitiveness.  Organizations that don’t have a sales process or map need to have one.  Organizations that have a sales process or map but are not using it are fooling themselves. Make certain your sales process and map reflects the current best practices for winning business.  Everything else is a waste of time…

Management is about achieving results and doing so consistently…. understand the how and why. Elements that you can monitor, act upon, refine and correct. Achieving results is an outcome of doing the right things right… this is where your sales process and mapping helps. Key principles are; logical flow, easy to breakdown into its component parts, able to be monitored, adaptable to different selling situations, and changed to allow for market conditions…

“When you give your customers, peers, constituents and family what they want, when they want it, and how they want it- you win them over- over and over again!” ~ Barry Libert, business executive.