5 Ways To Make Your Sales Process More Scalable
In our decades long expertise with B2B enterprises, we’ve found that more than half of those companies saw their sales and marketing expenses increase as a percentage of revenue. In other words, more than 50 percent of those businesses had sales and marketing organizations that couldn’t keep up and weren’t scalable.
In the past few years we’ve all seen dramatic changes in the business environment. We saw phenomenal growth, followed by the recession, an increase in inflation and supply chain issues. During this time, driven by the need to protect margin and grow profits, we should have seen much more companies investing to scale and grow their business. But we’ve seen that the needed scalability never arrived.
In order to scale any business process, including your sales process, the approach has to be precise, consistent and repeatable. Here are five ways to achieve that:
- Hire the right people: To consistently hire the right types of salespeople, it helps to have a data-driven methodology that defines the characteristics of people who are successful in certain roles. Once you find a profile that works, focus your talent search on finding those types of people. Taking the time to define these characteristics also benefits sales management. It helps managers better understand their current team and gives them a data-driven foundation for guiding and coaching each rep toward precise actions and behaviors.
- Maintain and optimize your customer and transactional data: Here’s where your CRM system and data entry policies contribute to scalability. When using your transactional data in analytics to make business decisions, the information must be accurate, and that requires using policies and enforcement to standardize the way data is entered into these systems. Seemingly small differences, such as using “St.,” “Street” or “st” in address fields, could produce duplicate records, making it difficult to get an accurate picture from the data.
Unless you have automated rules to guide accurate data entry, your sales reps must spend lots of time scouring the CRM data for inaccuracies and duplicate records. Instead of focusing on selling, they spend time just to ensure that they get paid for all of the accounts that are legitimately in their territory. Having mechanisms in place to maintain accurate customer data is an important underpinning component of scalability.
- Align your products and services with channel needs: If you have multiple sales channels, such as direct sales, e-commerce and partner sales, it’s important to align your offers along specific channels, based on each channel’s needs.
For example, your direct sales force usually focuses on your largest customers, which tend to be international and global companies. To offer the best solutions for these customers, your direct sales force needs to provide specific products and services that are available across the countries where these customers operate. This alignment also helps your company define the right products, services and supporting operational processes to efficiently support business with those customers.
Your e-commerce channel has different channel needs. Your e-commerce customers are looking to configure products to their specific requirements in a self-service experience that is supported by easy payment methods and quick shipping. Aligning the products, services and operational capabilities for these needs ensures your ability to efficiently serve that e-commerce channel.
A configure, price quote platform like PROS Smart CPQ can help with product and service configuration. With it you can quickly find products that are available and appropriate with a digital catalog, and deliver personalized offers, including AI-based cross-sell recommendations.
- Improve sales pipeline management: Sales forecasting tends to focus on expected results for the quarter or the half; as a result, the forecast is based on late-stage opportunities, instead of the entire pipeline. Managing the entire pipeline helps ensure the right activities take place at each stage of the sales cycle, enabling your marketing and sales teams to drive the pipeline size, shape and velocity metrics to meet your business goals. Improving management and visibility across the entire pipeline allows your company to be more proactive, making your sales process efficient and scalable. CPQ software can help identify opportunities with existing customers, driving value and lifting profits.
- Provide data-driven decisions through your sales operations team: In any sales organization, there are plenty of opinions, ideas and suggestions, but what matters at the end of the day is making a decision based on facts, or at least some data.
Making these decisions in a repeatable, consistent manner requires a neutral arbitrator. Your sales operations team is ideal for this role, providing the ruthless, data-driven insights that help drive scalability. Without a strong arbitrator, data is too often overridden by the HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) method of decision making. Again this is where CPQ is your friend. Among its many features to accelerate the sales process with automated guidance is the concept of ‘pricing envelopes’ - using business rules to ensure that sellers are providing pricing that is good for the customer (I.e. competitive) but that also drives profitable growth for the company.6) And lastly, automate wherever you can. Manual process really bog down the sales process; many of the companies that choose to do business with us are stuck in the yesteryear of managing pricing and quotes with guesswork and excel, introducing errors down the line and inhibiting the ability to respond quickly to the market. Administrative tasks and account research take over 24% of time and are the least effective sales activities. You need to reclaim that time and put sales people in the position to build relationships and consult to customers to solve their business needs. CPQ software includes features that automation the quoting, offer creation, and contracting functions.
Scalability isn’t necessarily easy; but these five tactics — along with persistence and good change management— make it an achievable goal for your sales organization.
About PROS: (NYSE:PRO)
PROS is one of the best kept secrets for profitable growth. For over 35 years, we have been uniquely positioned in the tech industry offering the world’s only AI based platform that helps businesses grow their margins and revenues. With more than 20 patented AI algorithms and 30+ million AI models, the PROS Platform is powered by advanced AI science that continuously delivers actionable insights based on the unique conditions of every buying engagement. These insights give companies more visibility into market volatility and allow them to rapidly adjust prices and quotes in response to real-time market shifts, feeding daily decision making and supporting longer-term business strategy and profitability. PROS AI is the driving force in updating more than 400 million prices and 1.7 billion forecasts daily in more than 30 industries around the globe.