Ask any CEO to describe their manufacturing or service delivery process and they can likely spend hours telling you about it. They can explain how they built not only a process but also a level of efficiency that gives them a competitive advantage. They will also likely explain that the processes has changed significantly over the years so they could continue to improve efficiency and grow their top and bottom lines.
Ask the CEO that same question as it relates to their sales process and they will likely tell you they have been using the same selling process for years. Even worse, you may just get a blank stare. The reality is that the selling process for most companies have not kept pace with change in buying behaviors. In too many cases no selling process exists at all.
Lead Generation – One Reason Sales Process Is More Important Than Ever
Progressive sales and marketing organizations have – or are – in the process of implementing lead generation/demand generation programs to feed their sales team a steady stream of qualified prospects. This investment is significant in terms of time and dollars and many firms are relying on this proven process to gain a competitive advantage. Don't waste this lead gen investment by failing to update (or implement) your sales process. The last thing you want are sales-ready leads falling into a black hole!
During several recent 3FORWARD engagements we witnessed some serious sales process issues, which could significantly reduce the effectiveness of these new demand generation programs. Following are a few observations.
Insufficient program support from sales leadership
The sales leadership organization is a critical component of any successful lead gen program and their buy in must be maniacal. If the sales leader is not showing passion and commitment to the program then it's unlikely the sales team will either.
Consistent processing of sales ready leads
There must be a well-documented process that outlines the required actions and activities once a sales-ready lead is passed to sales. Nothing is a greater buzz kill than to find out that a highly qualified lead has been left to languish because the assigned sales person was too busy or too lazy to follow up. One solution to this problem is to stop passing leads to reps that can't or won't engage with a prospect, problem solved!
Lead quality feedback
OK, so not every sales ready lead passed to sales will be qualified. When this happens the sales person must send the lead back to the lead generation team with feedback on why the lead wasn't qualified. This feedback can now be factored into the process to improve the effort over time. Remember, most prospects will become qualified at some point in the future, don't caste them aside.
Inability to articulate the firm's value proposition during the initial contact call
One of the best features of most current lead generation programs is that they can provide the rep with valuable prospect behaviors. These behaviors can provide insight into the needs and issues of the prospect. Taking the time to understand this data and doing some preliminary prospect research will ensure that the prospect sees value in taking a few minutes to speak with your rep. This level of detail also greatly enhances your ability to gain a face-to-face appointment.
Shared responsibility is no responsibility! Making sure that everyone in the lead generation/selling process knows their responsibilities increases the odds of sales success dramatically. If you are a CEO, CMO, or CSO, take the initiative to review your current practices and insist on improvements.