Accelerate Sales With the Right People, Sales Process, and Metrics

Building the right sales process can accelerate sales, but even the best sales process will be ineffective without the right team and metrics in place. To set your sales team up for success, Andie Dovgan, vice president of global sales at bpm’online, shared some of his sales success tips in his presentation “Designing a Holistic and Scalable Sales Model” at bpm’online’s ACCELERATE event in Boston (May 3-4, 2018). Select insights from his presentation are below.

Before defining your sales process and hiring the right salespeople, there’s one small, but very important, task that needs to be accomplished: Sales leaders must establish their segmentation strategy to understand each buyer’s profile and expected buying process. It’s “the number one issue,” according to Dovgan. You don’t want to hire an enterprise-level sales professional and have this person chasing SMB deals. So, before you begin your hiring process, make sure you have clearly defined whom your buyers are, what kind of behaviors they have, and the skillsets needed to sell to them. Once you’ve segmented your buyers, you can assign the leads to the right salespeople and apply the right sales and customer success strategies to make sure your processes are aligned with the company’s business model.

Hire the Right Salespeople

Any good sales strategy requires that you hire the right people. This means you must find out if a candidate is a good fit for your company. But how do you do that?

First, define a very concrete set of competencies. If you’re looking for specific sales experience, don’t simply ask if the candidates have it. For example, if you require candidates to have strategic selling skills and you ask candidates if they have this experience, they might reply, “Yes.” Most everyone thinks it’s about selling “advantages and benefits,” but it’s not, Dovgan stated. To find out for sure, ask which formal sales methodologies or certifications they’re familiar with and see how much it influences the way they sell. Find out the types of deals they were working on previously (e.g., the types of buying personas, deal volumes, sales cycles, quota sizes, etc.,). Then, ask the candidates to break down a typical sales situation at your organization and explain how they would tackle them. Check whether the stated methodology was used for opportunity analysis, he stated.

In addition to finding a candidate who has the experience you’re looking for, you also need to have chemistry with this person. The candidate might have an incredible amount of experience, but if you’re not excited to hire this person, “you’re probably not talking to the right individual,” Dovgan offered. It’s essential, he added, that you hire a person with the right skills who can also get people excited.

These are only two examples of competencies to consider. Generally, it is advisable to hire someone who satisfies roughly five relevant competencies, Dovgan stated.

To help you assess each candidate, he also recommended setting up a scoring model that enables you to score all applicants as objectively as possible.

Define Your Sales Process

When it comes to setting up a sales process, many companies simply define the stages and activities and that’s it. But that’s woefully insufficient. “The truth is if you want to measure and fully manage your sales based on the process, you need to go much, much [further],” Dovgan stated.

First, sales leaders must establish their critical pillars for success, such as steps needed to execute within each stage (e.g., deliver a demo), promotion outcomes that are required to move to the next level (e.g., convert your contact person into a vocal advocate or get access to an executive buyer), and sales tools (such as opportunity assessments or differentiation matrix) that empower reps to apply a more strategic approach to managing their opportunities. Each stage of the sales process should have a yielded data-driven probability score that identifies the likelihood of closing a deal when each stage is completed.

For example, to move the opportunity from the Develop stage (which could yield a 40% likelihood to close) to the Prove stage (which could yield a 60% chance to close), Dovgan stated the following criteria must be met: You have at least one champion inside the account. The value analysis has been completed and you have quantified the expected outcomes. Your proposal has been presented and approved by the executive sponsor.

To help sales reps move from the Develop stage to the Proof stage, Dovgan suggested “having a very strong champion within your account.” He added that salespeople should be connected to a power sponsor, or someone who has the authority to sign off on the deal. Keeping track of these details, he suggested, enables organizations to more objectively determine the probability of closing a deal.

To help salespeople move through the sales process, sales leaders should ensure the sales process is aligned with each buyer’s journey and market expectations. Additionally, Dovgan suggested sales leaders should identify the stages and activities that are best suited for their organization. He also shared that the sales process should be scalable and repeatable for newcomers, connected with the sales forecast model, and fully automated within the CRM system.

Measure and Improve Performance

“Performance is the number-one challenge in sales management,” Dovgan stated. That’s why he offered some essential metrics to measure.

Some key performance metrics to measure include forecast accuracy, average rep attainment, total target attainment, deals closed per rep, number of reps above quota, and deal size and cycle accuracy.

Key pipeline metrics include the number of deals, pipeline volume, weighted volume, pipeline-to-quota ratio, win/lose rate, pipeline growth dynamic, and committed/forecasted pipeline.

Additionally, some productivity metrics to measure include the number of customer interactions, selling time, number of customer meetings, number of calls/emails and their correlations with pipeline-level metrics.

Using these performance, pipeline, and productivity metrics, sales leaders can identify performance gaps and take the necessary actions to help your sales reps be more successful. And, when combined with the right sales team and sales process, you will be well-positioned to accelerate sales and build a scalable and repeatable model.