If Your Sales Process Looks Like This, You’re Blowing Deals
I got on a call with an SDR recently who was nothing short of lovely. He asked great questions, talked about my goals, what I was looking for, what I wanted to see in their technology, etc. He listened well, was authentic, and was helpful from start to finish.
Then I asked to see the technology.
Which is when he told me it wasn’t his job and that he’d have to get me scheduled with an Account Executive because he wasn’t allowed to show me. I actually had no idea he was an SDR… talk about killing the momentum!
Fast forward to the next call. The first thing the Account Executive asks me:
“So… tell me about your business and why we are talking.”
Really? Did you all not talk behind the scenes? The LAST thing I want to do is to have the same conversation again…
… and more importantly, I shouldn’t have to! I gracefully ended the call after a painful demo that didn’t touch on any of the key points we discussed during the first call and immediately went to their top competitor.
Folks, the market has shifted. Buyers are more in the driver’s seat of the sales process than they ever have been:
You MUST make sure that your buyer’s experience at each touchpoint is seamless and pain-free. It’s a HUGE part of how they decide if your product/service/widget is worth buying.
Here’s how to avoid situations like I experienced and ensure your sales process truly is seamless.
How to create a seamless buyer experience
As much as I hate to say it, the biggest problem I see with sales processes these days is twofold:
- They’re built around the seller instead of the buyer
- They’re built with a one-size-fits-all mentality
Case in point, a client of mine told me one day that they use the SDR model simply because “that’s the SaaS sales model.”
That client actually uses the SDR model exceptionally well (and is seeing massive growth). So I’m not knocking the approach in this case.
But the mindset is what I still can’t wrap my head around. Buyers don’t give one rip about what your process is like… they just want their problems solved. You need to structure your process in whatever way will help them do that, not how everyone else does it.
The B2B sales process is becoming less and less linear each year because the way buyers buy is changing. An SDR model might not be the right fit even if you’re in SaaS! In fact, a report by McKinsey showed that businesses who modified their sales process to more closely match the way their customers buy saw a 20% increase in new leads and 10% increase in new customers. No matter what model you decide to use, here are a few things you need to work incredibly hard at to ensure your sales process isn’t getting in the way of the sale.
Cleanup your handoffs
The intersection between an SDR and an AE needs to be flawless (and not an internal power struggle). This is the thing I see go most wrong these days and the thing that will drive the greatest results on your win rates when you change it up.
Here’s a courtesy of SalesHacker that illustrates where this often goes wrong:
There needs to be a genuine partnership between an SDR and an AE and not just a lukewarm hand-off. Most halfway savvy prospects can feel a gap in the communication and this makes for a terrible experience.
A couple things to think about to make sure the handoff is clean:
- Eliminate friction for your buyers. There is a reason companies like Drift are dominating. Their mantra is to get into real-time conversations with prospects sooner and more effectively, reducing the struggle to get answers.
- Leverage your technology to create a paper trail of meaningful details. Ensure anyone that looks at the prospect has the history and ability to step right in if needed without creating redundancy.
- Make sure your AE’s and SDR’s are discussing what was covered. Things like pains, goals, what to expect, key points to cover going into it, etc. Too often the wrong things are discussed and important details slip through the cracks.
- Have the SDR tee up the second call. I prefer for the SDR to hop on the second call and just set the stage for the AE. This is the ultimate way to create a smooth transition.
- Create an effective comp plan. As I say often to my clients, incentivize the behavior and results you want to see and penalize bad behavior that has your buyers suffering. Make sure it reflects the reality of the situation (see the image above)!
Above all else – put yourself in your buyers’ shoes.
How would you feel if you were them going through your process? Let that guide you!
Simplify your technology
A study from last year indicates that nearly two-thirds (64.8%) of your reps’ time, on average, is spent on non revenue-generating activities. That means they’re only spending 35.2% of their time actually selling. The rest is spent getting bogged down in the minutiae.
A big part of this (in my experience) is because sales leaders actually provide too many pieces of technology to use. The excess ends up just getting in the way and gets their teams stuck in admin details.
This will show in your sales process with customers – like how the SDR in my experience above “wasn’t allowed” to do the demo.
Not to mention it wastes valuable dollars that you could be reinvesting into making your team shine in other ways.
Don’t bog your team down with unnecessary technology – audit what you have today, pinpoint gaps, and figure out what you need to enable your team while satisfying your buyer. Scrap the rest.
Pay attention to the right metrics
I find that a lot of teams don’t know which details actually move deals forward (or shut them down for that matter). They end up stuck in the dark as a result.
I’m talking about things like:
- Lead data
- Response time
- Sales funnel barriers
- Loss reasons (why they don’t convert)
- Seasonality trends
- All things revenue from every aspect (new business, upsells, churn, etc)
- Percentage of team achieving quota
- Length of sales cycle
- Average deal size (per customer segment)
- Key Results Areas + Key Performance Indicators
Accurate understanding and reporting on these items will help you keep your team focused on the right things – the ones that will help them be prepared for conversations with buyers and anticipate their needs on calls.
Additionally, it will help you create comp plans that truly incentivize your reps the right way… something that is crucial to driving continuous growth for your company and your people.
Create a feedback loop from the front lines
The key to creating a seamless experience for your customers is to take a continuous improvement approach. Always look for ways to make the process and systems better and make sure they’re not getting in the way of the sale!
The best place to get the information you need to do that is right from their mouths.
That’s why the best sales leaders I know are always out on the floor with their team having conversations about what they’re seeing, hearing, and experiencing each day with buyers in addition to spending time with buyers directly themselves.
There’s no replacement for a true post-mortem to get raw, unfiltered feedback straight from your customers!
One other very important thing to add here… the best sales leaders don’t just apply this information to their process. They also find ways to get that information up the chain to the people who can do something with it if need be.
- Common product requests
- Process changes
- When a buyer responds versus is turned off or tuned out
The truth is, salespeople can only sell a product the market wants. So you’ve got to make sure the information that they uncover in the field makes its way to the rest of the organization to act on too.
The key takeaway here is very simple: the Golden Rule. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes by listening to their real unfiltered feedback and acting on it. This will help you break down where the barriers to purchase in your process are and show you how to improve.
But a sub point I want to make here is, not all sales processes are created equal… nor should they be. Your product-market fit is unique and your sales process should interface that perfectly, not just “how other successful companies are doing it.”
Just like the best politicians craft a compelling vision for the future and take the public along for that journey, sales leaders can do the same for their teams and customers.
Stripe’s former Head of Revenue and Growth explains how his team enables developers to try the product before they commit to a contract.