There’s a lot that goes into successful sales. And even the best, brightest, most talented reps can benefit from some type of standardized system. One that simplifies and streamlines sales to convert the maximum number of leads into customers. And that’s where a guided sales process comes in.
For this post, I’m going to provide some recent data that illustrates just how big of an impact a guided sales process can have and unpack the essentials that go into creating one.
A Jaw-Dropping Stat
Let’s cut to the chase. The Sales Management Association, a “global, cross-industry professional association for managers in sales force effectiveness,” conducted extensive research on the importance of a guided sales process. According to their findings, “90% of all companies that use a formal, guided sales process were ranked as the highest performing.”
That’s about as cut and dry as it gets. Sales teams that establish a formal system create a replicable framework that enables reps to take someone from being a prospective buyer in the early awareness stage to a converted customer efficiently with the least amount of friction. And like most areas of business, a guided sales process will evolve over time. As more and more data is accumulated, you gain more customer insights and a better understanding of their psychology, motives, pain points, and overall profile.
You also can spot flaws in your process and make the necessary adjustments to fine-tune them. So over time and with continual iterations, your guided sales process becomes hyper-efficient and allows your salespeople to operate at their absolute best. Besides that, having a winning formula helps accelerate ramp time so you can get new hires up to speed more quickly and hasten their development. That’s important considering it takes an average of 11 months for most reps to reach their full potential.
Other Insightful Stats
But it doesn’t stop there. For a deeper perspective, here are some other interesting stats curated by Super Human Prospecting that further illustrate the potency of having a guided sales process.
- “Businesses with a standardized sales process see up to a 28% increase in revenue as compared to those that do not.”
- “50% of high-performing sales organizations admit having ‘closely monitored, strictly enforced, or automated’ sales processes.”
- Conversely, “48% of under-performing organizations have non-existent or informal sales processes.”
Now let’s unpack these stats a bit more. For starters, a 28% revenue increase instantly caught my attention. To think that a guided sales process can have this much of a direct correlation to significantly higher earnings is extremely compelling. The data, which comes from a Harvard Business Review study, found that this type of effective pipeline management can be massively beneficial for boosting revenue. And it makes sense. By providing salespeople with a standardized system to follow and reducing friction points for leads, increased sales should naturally follow.
The second stat about half of high-performing organizations closely monitoring, enforcing, or automating sales processes shows that another key part of winning in this area is ensuring salespeople follow the prescribed methodology. This doesn’t mean micromanaging or making the process overly forced, as elite reps will usually need some level of flexibility to “do their thing.” But it does suggest there needs to be a baseline for salespeople to stick to and that sales leaders should keep an eye on things, especially during initial implementation.
Lastly, the fact that 48% of underperforming organizations have either informal sales processes or none whatsoever shows that the opposite is true. Companies without a proper guided sales process lack structure, which, in turn, puts them at a disadvantage when compared to competitors with a formal system in place.
The Essentials of a Guided Sales Process
At this point, I think we can all agree that, when done right, a guided sales process can be a game-changer. But what exactly should it include?
While the sequence will vary somewhat from company to company, I like the outline Super Office provides, which consists of six key steps. This includes:
- Handling objections
- Closing and follow-up
Here’s a nice illustration of how that looks.
Notice how it’s cyclical, and after the final stage of closing and follow-up, the process starts all over again through either repeat sales or referrals. Obviously, not all customers will result in repeat business or a referral. But this bears mentioning, as research from Small Business Trends found that “65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers.”
So besides simply streamlining the process of acquiring new customers, this system also makes it easier for salespeople to capitalize on opportunities with existing customers as well. For more info on the nuts and bolts of the actual guided sales process itself and how to construct one for your company, I recommend reading this post from Super Office.
Most sales leaders won’t be surprised that having a guided sales process is advantageous. But I doubt many knew just how big of an impact it can have. And we’re not talking about hypotheticals here. Results will vary, but with concrete data finding that 90% of top-performing companies use guided selling, it’s clearly a strategy worth implementing.
And as I mentioned earlier, the benefits can be far-reaching. Besides just helping reps do their jobs better, it can improve onboarding for new hires and create more opportunities for repeat business and referrals. So if this is something you haven’t gotten around to yet, now is the perfect time to get started.
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