Sales Process Design Guide


  • Research shows that the Best-in-Class sales performers use standardized and optimized business processes twice as frequently as their lower performing peers.
  • Optimized sales processes accelerate the sales cycle and increase conversions. When more sellers use optimized procedures the company accelerates revenue.
  • But optimized processes don't occur naturally. They are created by design and improved over time.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

In many sales organizations if you ask 10 sellers how they accomplish the same process you will get 10 or more different responses. But there's not 10 best ways of performing the same process.

Inconsistent, do it my own way or go it alone sales process maps are the norm for most organizations. But not for all.

The Sales Excellence Report found that a whopping 87 percent of the Best-in-Class performance archetype have standardized selling processes that are streamlined and optimized. That figure is 2 times higher than the Medians and Laggards.

How Do They Do It?

The key to effective execution is to use a Business Process Design framework to simplify, streamline, optimize and automate end to end work streams. Streamlined and automated processes root out excess cost, improve execution, increase salesforce productivity, enable scalability and facilitate continuous incremental improvements.

Business Process Design

At Johnny Grow our mantra is "everything that get repeated get automated."

But unfortunately, that's not the norm.

Historically business process design and improvement were aimed at increasing efficiency, decreasing cycle times and lowering costs. All important for sure, however, miss the bigger opportunity.

When working with clients to improve how work gets done we've found that it is critical to take a two-step approach. Design for effectiveness first, then design for efficiency.

If you start with or only focus on efficiency you will make the mistake of optimizing unimportant business activities; many of which deliver little or no value and can be eliminated. Optimizing business processes that sellers or customers don't care about doesn't help anybody.

If the recipient of a business process gets no value, it doesn't matter how efficient, fast or cheap it is.

By starting with process effectiveness, which measures delivered value, you can eliminate tasks and activities that don't contribute enough value and thereby achieve work elimination and significant cost take-out. This approach reconsiders how work gets done before it applies software automation. It thereby goes beyond incremental improvements and achieve order of magnitude changes.

Once process value has been measured, we use a few different Business Process Design frameworks, but they all begin with a similar 3 step approach.


Design for repeatability

Processes should be simplified, streamlined, optimized and automated; in that order.
Selling processes are particularly well suited to sales playbook facilitation, guided selling or contextual recommendations of evidence-based best practices.

Delivering the right recommendations at the right time is the single greatest method to clearly demonstrate how lower performing reps can replicate the actions and behaviors of the top producers and shift the entire team's performance.


Design for Measurability

We all know you can't manage what you can't measure or that you get what you inspect, not what you expect. Unfortunately, we don't all follow the things we know.

Process design should first display performance visibility in the forms of dashboards, reports and workflow variance alerts. It should then step up to deliver performance predictability that comes from tracking metrics, measuring duration cycles and using data to extrapolate results.

This creates predictive models to manipulate the data for further optimization, run what-if models or explore competing scenarios. It's extremely powerful in delivering real-time continuous process improvement (CPI).

And by standardizing your metrics, such as with the below APQC processes, you can compare your performance to peers. This will quickly identify the biggest uplift opportunities.

Sales Process Design

Design for automation

You only apply technology after you have simplified, streamlined and optimized processes. Otherwise, you are just automating inefficient or low value activities.

Software automation decreases cycle times, saves sellers time, delivers predicted results, aids compliance and drives scale.

The best technology tools for process automation are the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Sales Force Automation (SFA) system. These applications offer built-in workflow tools to guide and automate repeatable outcomes.

Another Sales Process Optimization Method

Agile Value Stream Mapping surfaces bottlenecks, identifies non-value-added steps, measures business process efficiency and calculates process value. A lot of people ask how you calculate the value of sales processes. There are a few methods but we normally measure tasks within processes and the overall outcome according to the four Customer Experience Trust elements of being reliable, relevant, convenient and responsive.

Agile Value Stream Mapping

See the top business process design method to improve sales processes and increase salesforce productivity.

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Agile Value Stream mapping supports the shift from doing things right (efficiency) to doing the right things (effectiveness). It's often the most effective method because it doesn't just improve your existing processes. Instead, it measures the value of what you do in order to eliminate non-valued added activities, and redefines actions to be directly mapped to company and customer outcomes.

The Point is This

Informal or loosely defined processes can work haphazardly for small groups, but they can't scale. Inconsistent processes also don't work when a team member leaves and you need to reallocate tasks to somebody else, when you need to add a substitute for time away, or when you grow your total team and need to adjust the flow of who does what.

Streamlined processes not only deliver repeatable outcomes and quality results, they create confidence and trust. Highly effective, efficient and automated processes that satisfy salespeople and customers become your intellectual property and are the future of sales.