Many sales organizations spend a small fortune implementing a new sales process. For example, expect to pay a trainer $10,000-50,000 to teach your new process to a team of about 25 people. And once training is over, it’s not uncommon for everyone to get excited about the new things they learned for a few weeks, only to revert to their old ways without the sweeping changes you hoped for.

Sound familiar?

In speaking with our customers and other industry leaders, we discovered that getting sales teams to effectively adopt the new sales methodology is one of the biggest challenges sales leaders struggle to overcome.

Thankfully, there are ways to make adopting a new sales process easier for teams and leaders alike.

Proper documentation, proactive prompts, frequent inspections, leadership oversight, and automated workflows can ease some of the most common pitfalls that come with transitioning to a new sales process.

Why do you need a standardized sales process?

You probably invested a lot of money and team time getting your new sales process off the ground, but there are even more important things at stake. Implementing a sales process with a methodology (like MEDDIC or MEDDPICC) lays the foundation for your sales team to grow and become more effective.

It’s critical for:

Collecting high quality, quantifiable sales data

Your sales process sets standards for the quality of the data your sales reps collect. An effective sales process directs sales reps to go beyond close dates, stages, and sales forecasting categories to look at more advanced sales data like quantifiable goals, urgency, and pain points. MEDDIC and MEDDPICC data in particular provide a strong indicator of whether a deal is in a position to close.

Retaining your sales reps

Sales reps expect to learn and be successful in their careers. If they don’t feel like they are leveling up their skills, it’s going to be hard to keep them around.

Your sales process outlines the steps salespeople need to progress through to close more, and better, deals. In doing so, it defines success not only for ambitious salespeople, but for the managers giving them feedback and helping them achieve their goals.

Scaling your sales team

Without a defined sales methodology, you don’t have the structure to adhere to when looking for and training new sales hires. Your sales process not only defines which applicant skills best fit your company, it standardizes best practices that sales reps learn to repeatedly execute on to achieve better sales results. Without it, scaling your team will be chaotic.

All these reasons make establishing a sales process critical for your business. However, a sales process is only effective if your reps follow it; and convincing salespeople to change their habits and adopt a new methodology comes with its challenges.

Fixing common new sales process pitfalls

When talking to sales leaders about their struggles in getting a team to adopt a new sales process, we noticed a few trends. Thankfully, these common sales process pitfalls are all manageable with the right tactics.

Here’s what to look out for as you transition your team to a new sales methodology.

Pitfall 1: You can’t tell whether your reps follow the new process

Your managers can’t listen in on every sales call. Even if you have call recording software, they’re probably only going to have time to watch one or two snippets out of each rep’s 10-20 calls per week.

Unfortunately, that’s not enough to know whether your sales reps are executing on your new sales methodology. Not only is the sample size too small, it’s too time consuming for your managers to review any more than that.

So, how do you know if your sales reps are following the new sales process?

Solution: Make sure your sales process lives in your CRM

The best way to verify at scale whether your sales reps are having the quality conversations outlined in your sales methodology is by documenting the sales process in your CRM.

For most companies, documentation happens in their CRM. If you use Salesforce, for example, when rolling out MEDDPICC, you would add the appropriate sales process fields into your Salesforce instance.
MEDDPICC.png A look at some of the MEDDPICC data fields sales teams can add into Salesforce to help their reps adhere to a new sales process.

By breaking MEDDPICC into its parts (Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Process, Decision Criteria, Paper Process, Implications of Pain, Champion, and Competitors) in Salesforce, sales reps have to address each consideration for their prospects.

This keeps the new sales methodology training top of mind and helps sales reps gather the quality, quantifiable data they need to close better deals.

Pitfall 2: Sales managers don’t provide consistent, quality deal inspection

Our friends at Gong polled over 700 sales managers to find out the No. 1 thing they wish they had more of. Can you guess the answer?

Time!

Sales managers frequently find themselves lacking the bandwidth to fully address all of their responsibilities. When this happens, it often means skimming on key managerial functions, like deal inspection.

Many managers prepare for one-on-ones by looking at a report once a week and only focusing on the late-stage deals. This is all well and good, but managers need to coach and make corrections earlier in the sales process to improve and amplify sales rep performance.

Moreover, if your reps handle multiple calls a week, managers need time to review and provide feedback on these conversations more than once a week. This gives them more consistent and proactive opportunities to improve the quality of sales conversations.

Solution: Encourage sales coaching by getting reps to log timely, accurate info

Documenting your sales process in your CRM is only half the battle. Now you need to get sales reps to update their sales process fields quickly and consistently enough to give managers a clear image of who needs improvement. 

The best way make this a habit for your sales reps is by making sales process documentation as simple and painless as possible.

At Troops, we use our own product to automatically prompt our sales reps whenever they need to update a sales process field in the CRM.

reinforce-sales-process-1.png
Troops delivers real-time sales notifications that help sales reps complete MEDDPICC data fields and other sales process steps.

For example, we use Troops to send proactive, contextual prompts reminding our sales reps to update their MEDDPICC fields in Salesforce after every meeting and before weekly deal reviews. This means that our sales reps receive reminders when they matter most, helping them get into the habit of providing the information their managers need to monitor their progress and coach when they see opportunities for improvement.

Interested in reinforcing your sales process using automation? Schedule a demo or get started for free here.

Pitfall 3: Sales reps input their CRM data, but the quality is poor

Say your sales team is not only documenting their sales process information in Salesforce, they’re consistently doing so after most meetings. Good work!

However, the real indicator of whether your reps are following your sales process is the quality of the documentation. Just having it in there is table stakes.

But if your sales rep defines your prospect’s goals as simply “they want to reduce costs,” they’re not meeting your new MEDDIC sales methodology standards. By how much do they want to cut costs? Why and how are they going to do this? What are the quantifiable, measurable success indicators?

This is where your sales process data becomes your guide to the quality of conversations your sales reps are having, and subsequently where they need coaching to uncover better information from prospects.

Solution: Automate sales process data for daily inspections

Looking at a grouped Salesforce report once a week for 20 minutes with a rep is not enough. At Troops, our sales managers inspect call outcomes on a daily basis, correcting behaviors immediately after they crop up in conversation.

We do this in two ways:

Dedicated Slack Channels for sales process stages

We dedicate a Slack sales channel to each part of our sales process. Each channel automatically shares an alert any time a sales rep updates a field related to that specific part of the process. This real-time information prompts managers to inspect and, if necessary, interject and coach sales reps on the fly.

reinforce-sales-process-2.png

We create a dedicated Slack sales channel for each sales process stage and use Troops to send notifications whenever a sales rep adds stage-specific MEDDPICC data into Salesforce.

We love doing this in Slack because it’s quick and conversational, condensing the feedback loop for the sales reps. It also serves as a learning forum where other reps can see feedback for common issues and things they might struggle with.

Some of the top sales organizations use Slack channels to make their sales process more efficient. See how HubSpot, Intercom, and even Slack itself use Slack for sales.

Stage movement channels with exit criteria

The other way we monitor how well our team follows the sales process is by monitoring deal progression in stage-specific Slack channels with relevant exit criteria.

Exit criteria is sales process data that tells you what you need to know before you move a sales opportunity to the next stage in the sales pipeline. It forces sales reps to consider what’s still unknown about a prospect as well as any potential roadblocks that could get in the way of closing the deal.

For example, a sales rep who wants to move a deal into the proposal stage might need to understand the prospect’s decision-making process and the extent of their urgency to fulfill that stage’s exit criteria. To move a prospect to the proposal stage, a sales rep might need to identify the prospect’s pain points.
reinforce-sales-process-3.png A Troops alert shares the exit criteria data a sales rep entered into Salesforce about a recent prospect call. This prompts a sales manager to review and provide next steps.

This approach gives sales management an opportunity to gauge the quality of a rep’s sales conversations and whether a deal is really where they claim it is. It’s also a great way to teach sales reps to manage their optimism and learn what it takes to move buyers through the sales process.

Pitfall 4: Your sales coaches are learning the new sales process, too

Let’s face it: Many managers have a high level of competency in sales, but they’re not so well versed in coaching others. Worse yet, they may not realize it.

In fact, studies from Gong.io indicate that 83% of managers say they are very good at coaching and training, yet 48% of sales reps say they want better coaching. There’s a clear disconnect.

Add in a new sales process that frontline managers have to learn themselves and you see how this gets complicated. How can you rely on sales managers to train your sales reps to implement your new sales process and get optimal results when they're still learning, too?

Interested in reinforcing your sales process using automation? Schedule a demo or get started for free here.

Solution: Make your leadership responsible for the effectiveness of frontline manager coaching

Your sales managers’ ability to coach needs to be monitored by company leadership who understand your new sales process. This extra level of oversight ensures that your frontline managers pass down only the most accurate and useful information.

reinforce-sales-process-4.png An illustration of the coaching hierarchy inside a company that’s transitioning to a new sales process.

Thankfully, surfacing sales documentation and feedback in Slack isn’t just useful for managers. It gives executives eyes on the sales coaching conversations managers are having (if they are having them), and whether they’re doing an effective job reinforcing your new sales process.

For example, say a sales rep wraps up a call with a prospect and wants to move the deal on to the next sales pipeline stage. Their sales manager, however, tells the sales rep that they need to chase down additional exit criteria before moving the deal onward. Your company leaders can see all of this in real time in Slack and provide timely feedback to the manager about how they addressed the situation.

If company leaders notice a trend in the types of feedback sales managers need to provide, they might insist on a sales-wide training or bigger initiative to get everyone on the same page.

Pitfall 5: New sales reps struggle to implement the new sales process

As you grow your sales team, you need a simple way to get new reps up to speed quickly. This is easier said than done.

For a lot of companies, sales process education and onboarding for new reps takes the form of LMS systems and, perhaps, internal wikis. This works for initial learning, but it takes time and is far less effective at reinforcing best practices once sales reps set out into the wild.

Solution: Set up on-the-go systems to groom new reps

Don’t just drop a bunch of documentation in your new sales reps’ laps before letting them get to the business of selling. Instead, set up simple, automated workflows that coach your new reps as they step through the new sales process.

reinforce-sales-process-5.png Troops sends personalized, contextual sales notifications and prompts to help sales reps navigate the sales process and managers to make sure everything’s going well.

For example, sales teams can set up automated workflows with Troops that prompt sales reps at critical moments throughout the sales process. These alerts notify sales reps when they have new opportunities and send reminders when a sales rep needs to complete an action in Salesforce (like filling in a MEDDIC data field). They also bring sales information and progress into the open so managers and other sales reps can collaborate on deals.

Say your new sales reps struggle the most with gathering, documenting, and analyzing exit criteria. Your Troops workflows can reinforce the importance of exit criteria by prompting sales reps to document exit criteria after every sales call. Workflows can also alert sales managers when new exit criteria data is available so they can review and provide guidance.

By setting up workflows that prioritize the key components of your new sales process, you can get new sales reps contributing faster than ever.

What sales process accountability means for your business

When you’re able to implement and execute the plays above in one form or another, you will see improvements in sales process adherence. And when your entire sales team effectively embraces your new sales process, you’ll notice significant improvements in the way your sales engine operates, including:

  1. Reps will perform better.
  2. Coaching moments will be easier to identify.
  3. Sales reps will ramp faster.
  4. You'll see fewer surprises at the end of the quarter.

(You’ll also feel a whole lot better about the money you spent on that expensive sales trainer!)

All of these things contribute to faster business growth and a happier sales team.

Interested in reinforcing your sales process using automation? Schedule a demo or get started for free here.

Scott

Written by Scott