7 Guided Selling Automation Processes
- Salesforce Automation Software (SFA) is the most powerful technology tool to drive process automation for salespeople.
- SFA software guided selling processes increase staff productivity and opportunity win rates.
- Guided sales processes can replicate the actions of the top producers so that other sellers can achieve similar results. They focus on what needs to be done, avoid tasks that are distractions and provide prescriptive advice. They streamline and optimize sales processes.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the customer system of record. But it's the Salesforce Automation Software (SFA), one of the tenants of CRM, that can bring data management, process automation and information reporting to salespeople.
Too many CRM or SFA applications are limited to salespeople manually entering sale opportunities so sales managers can get the forecast report. The forecast is important, but minor is comparison to what SFA software can achieve for the salesforce.
Using CRM or SFA software to capture data is near meaningless. Data has no value unless it produces a user, customer or business outcome. And the outcomes most important to sellers are time savings and sales conversions.
A much better use of SFA software is to define, optimize and streamline repeatable processes in order to improve staff productivity and increase win rates.
System automation accelerates process cycles, reduces errors, increases efficiencies, lowers costs and supports scale. It allows staff to spend less time entering and fixing data, and more time using that data to qualify accounts, make go or no-go decisions, perform deeper discoveries, craft personalized value propositions, develop win plans and negotiate deals.
Our mantra at Johnny Grow is "Processes that are repeated get automated."
Highly efficient and repeatable sales processes become your intellectual property.
SFA software from publishers such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are feature rich and flexible. There are a lot of automation capabilities. Below are seven of the most productive sales automation capabilities to guide reps and increase both productivity and opportunity win rates.
Sales dashboards optimize time and improve productivity. When correctly designed, they prioritize actions based on what's most important at any point in time for each person. They show what to do first, what to do next and so on. When managing many prospects and accounts, it's critical to apply automation for scheduling and visibility so that nothing slips between the cracks.
Guided Selling Processes
As illustrated in the image below, Sales Process Guides display a visual process flow control at the top of account, contact and opportunity forms. They define sales Stages and Steps. Each Stage may contain a series of steps that need to be completed. Each step shows what needs to be done and can be marked when complete. Some processes may enforce stage-gating which requires that certain steps be completed before subsequent steps can begin.
Guided selling processes with supporting visual guides are very effective in adding context to otherwise static records. Instead of just viewing any particular account, contact, activity or opportunity record in isolation, the process flow visualization shows the record history (what's been completed up to this point) and the record destination (what steps are next to achieve the desired outcome).
Viewing processes in context of where they have been and where they are going is much more insightful than static records. It improves visibility, streamlines processes and acts as a proactive guide to make information more actionable.
Content Management Systems
CMSs deliver information in context.
More informed customers inquire about more products or solutions. Sophisticated or complex solutions can be a challenge and if not responded to timely, will delay sales cycles.
For sellers with complex products or a high number of SKUs, no salesperson can be knowledgeable on everything. So, having on-demand access to things like product-based collaterals, specification documentation and fact sheets is helpful.
Some CRM systems have their own content management systems while others provide packaged integration to SharePoint. The best CRM systems dynamically display links to relevant information based on the customer type, demonstrated interest, position in the sales cycle or other context. These solutions deliver the right information at the right time to the people who need it.
An area of significant differentiation among CRM systems is their ability to support strategic sale methodologies. Top producers have shifted from ad hoc or informal selling to strategic selling backed with a methodology.
A sales methodology is a prescriptive but dynamic framework of strategies, tactics and responses that systemically and predictably advance opportunities through the sales cycle and maximize the sellers win rate. A sale methodology shifts your selling strategy from what you sell to how you sell.
Reps that use these methodologies always achieve higher sales win rates than those with informal methods. Some CRM software is designed to integrate the sale methodology with the CRM contact, activity and opportunity records.
Research also shows that repeatable and predictable sales processes increase conversions and help more reps make their sales quota. A structured sales process defines the methods or techniques to advance opportunities through each step of the sales cycle.
For example, it defines the investigative questions to qualify a lead, how to align buyer pain with product benefits, the strategy to create a win plan, the negotiation methods to preserve revenue, the incentives to get the deal closed and other tactics to win competitive deals. A simple example is shown below.
The combination of a sale methodology and disciplined sales process integrated with CRM automation can grow sales results by high single digits or low double digits, depending on the particular methodology and sales adoption discipline.
Sales best practices are born from research. They show which actions deliver results and which don't. They offer prescriptive methods backed by industry specific benchmark data to show what the top producers do differently than their peers. When you learn from the leaders and replicate their actions pursuant to prescriptive best practices you can scale repeatable successes.
The best CRM applications dynamically and contextually display best practices using workflow tools or the previously mentioned Process Guides. The later approach aligns the best practices with defined sales steps or processes where they are most relevant.
CI capabilities vary greatly among CRM systems. Some offer simple competitor reviews built mostly of narrative text while others categorize competitors by account segment, account type (i.e., direct competitors, indirect competitors and specialty competitors), product family and product.
They display competitor Fact sheets that show how your products compare and compete with competitor products pursuant to specific criteria. Those criteria are normally the buyer's decision-making criteria and many of the comparative displays are side by side analysis.
Centrally managed CI eliminates the redundancy and inconsistencies of sales staff maintaining this information on their own. It provides the entire team with the most up to date and accurate information available.
The better CRM systems also integrate win/loss history into the CI database. Many veteran sales managers use this information to create competitive strategies which cater to the predicted behaviors of select competitors. Sometimes they use the information to hire-away the most effective competitor staff.
AI is likely the single most powerful technology that will define the future of sales. It aids and accelerates seller actions and decision making. AI algorithms can suggest highly relevant and personalized Next Best Offer (NBO) recommendations or next best action based on sales cycle dynamics.
AI is the CRM automation tool that shifts data from historical to predictive and from hindsight to foresight.