Direct Marketing Article
Is Your Sales Engine Working? 4 Tips to
Effectively Evaluate Your Sales Process
By Dustin Sapp
The sales pipeline is the lifeblood of any business. It's a well-known fact:
organizations live and die by the numbers, regardless of the product,
service or solution. So, the defining question for any company is: Is your
sales engine working?
There are consultants, managers, technologies, and teams of sales reps
already at work in your organization. So, it's time to take a moment to take
a fresh look at how everything's actually coming together.
How do you do that? Start with four straightforward questions to pinpoint
inefficiencies. If you answer, "yes" to any one of these questions, your
sales process could be broken and ineffective:
1. Is my technology dated?
If you're using Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, or Excel
spreadsheets to directly communicate with your prospects, you could be
losing valuable time, as well as failing to capture the full conversation.
Often times, Word documents can't capture all the information that was
discussed during a sales meeting or a presentation, nor does a single Word
document hold all the various versions of a proposal or contract. On the
other hand, they can very easily overwhelm by providing too much of the
wrong kind of information.
2. Am I unsure which documents are the most current version with the
One of the most important parts of the sales process is keeping up-to-date
content in front of your prospect. With a distributed sales force and a
large amount of marketing and sales content, file management can become a
nightmare. The last thing you need is a team member using a five-year-old
corporate overview or the case study from a former client. You need to have
confidence that your team has the most current content, that everything you
deliver is consistent with your brand, and that you have control over the
sales message. If you don't, not only does it make you look disorganized,
but you could have a serious liability issue when the wrong messages are
being sold to your clients.
3. Am I managing important conversations and documentation through email?
Talk about having dated technology. Email is not a sufficient way to store
important conversations about deals and negotiations. While it's useful to
easily communicate during a deal, emails can get jumbled or taken out of
context and lead to miscommunication. The worst part about utilizing email
to keep track of conversation history is that, more often than not, you are
only corresponding with one or two of the people negotiating the deal,
rather than all decision-makers involved. How can you be sure all important
parties and stakeholders are aware of the conversation? Further, how can you
be sure you've heard the opinions of everyone?
4. Do I lack visibility in the lifecycle of our sales documents?
Collaborating with an internal team to build your presentations and
proposals can lead to version-control chaos, wasting countless hours of your
team's time. Once delivered to your prospect, the back-and-forth nature of
proposal and contract negotiation creates opportunity for human error and
unnecessary delays in the sales process. Your team needs to be able to
collaborate in real-time with each other throughout the sale, and you owe it
to your clients to implement a system that makes it easy for you to do
business with. New tools and technologies are available today that allow you
to gain more visibility into how prospects are interacting with your
documents. Knowing if and when a prospect views your contract and what they
spend the most time looking at can impact the direction of every
conversation to follow.
When it comes down to it, understanding the current state of your sales
enablement strategy is key to managing a well-oiled sales engine. It also
makes it easy to see why your proposals may not be converting. What sales
teams need today isn't able to be achieved with archaic processes and 20th
century tools. Consider implementing a sales enablement software solution to
help you track presentation, proposal and contract activity, versions and
collaborative processes. This will get you on track to being able to answer
"no" to the questions above, resulting in a more organized and efficient
sales process. Sales and marketing engines that stand the test of time are
those that keep up with the influences that technology has on our already
fast-paced business environment.
About the Author:
Dustin Sapp is Co-Founder and President of
TinderBox, a web-based platform
designed to manage and streamline the creation, delivery, and tracking of
sales proposals, contracts, and business communications.