Have you invested in an improved sales process, only to find that your sales reps are not following it?  Have you identified best practices for how to sell, explained the process to your team, but can’t be sure they are following the process?  Unfortunately, this experience is all too common.  Sales teams often have reps or managers who have perfected a “best practice” sales process which produces results, but which most team members just don’t follow. This is often due to one or more of the following obstacles:

1.       Sales reps are often not process oriented but are more oriented to relationships and results.

2.       Sales reps don’t really understand the process, but report that they do.

3.       Sales reps don’t feel the process will work for them personally.

4.       Sales reps find the new process overwhelming and are more comfortable continuing what they are doing.

5.       Sales management doesn’t have a good way to tell if the new process is being followed other than ad hoc observations. 

So how do you combat these obstacles?  Keys to accomplishing this include prioritizing, measuring, and coaching:

1.       Prioritizing.  As with many new skills, it is often difficult to change many behaviors simultaneously.  By evaluating the new process, and prioritizing the 2-3 behaviors that are most important in order to migrate the team to the new process, will simplify the process for the team.  This can often be accomplished by mapping out the sales process and identifying the 2-3 most important steps in the process.

2.       Measuring.  To tell whether the process is being followed, a metric should be created for each of the key 2-3 behaviors.  Reporting on this metric should be part of the CRM or other system, so that it is evident which reps are following the behaviors.

3.       Coaching.  Once it is clear which behaviors are being followed by which reps, successes need to be reinforced so that they continue.  Similarly, behaviors not being followed need to be reinforced through routine follow-up and coaching for reps that need help in making these behaviors work for them personally.  This includes reinforcing the link between the process and improving their relationships and results.

A good sales process can make a big difference in driving results and ensuring best practices are being used by the entire team, but only if it is followed.