Why Documenting Your Sales Process Works
For some people, the idea of creating and documenting a sales process sounds tedious and pointless.
Tedious? Maybe, at first. Pointless? Absolutely not!
Said simply, a process is a collection of steps necessary to complete an action or task.
For our purposes, that task is selling.
When you’re starting a new business or role, it’s normal to focus more on getting the job done than creating a process. You probably don’t know enough yet to think about how much time it takes, ways of improving, or how good the results are. You just need clients and money coming in.
As your business grows, you start to figure those details out. And as you gain more data, a process begins to develop, even if you don’t realize it.
But if you never get over that “just get it done” attitude, the process won’t be repeatable, scalable, or helpful for future growth.
Processes are what make the world’s biggest companies run smoothly. Processes are what make the top salespeople so successful.
They started with nothing, and as they grew, they developed processes.
However, the difference between the very top and the strugglers is not the presence of a process, it’s the documentation.
When you have a documented process, it’s the glue that keeps everything together.
See, there’s an issue that we don’t talk about very much, but it hurts a lot of sales teams. You can be the most well-intentioned (and successful!) founder or salesperson on the planet, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to train your salespeople well. When it’s not documented, there are always key parts of your sales process that you can’t explain. Ways of asking questions in conversations that you don’t even think about. You’ve been doing these things for so long that it just becomes a part of your routine.
That means that your salespeople are not going to use those techniques well, if at all.
To make matters worse, too many companies just give salespeople a goal or quota that they have to hit, and then they’re pretty much on their own. They’ll probably give them some product training and maybe a script, (which is terrible), but no real sales training at all. They’re just expected to go out and make it happen.
That is a key part of the problem; everyone is only focused on the end result.
There’s a range of circumstances that this creates.
- They slog away every day trying to get better, but the ramp-up time from getting hired to finding the kind of success where they are paying for themselves takes way too long. Worst case scenario: they get fired before they’ve had a chance to painstakingly find their own process and success.
- They’ve found a way that works for them, but it hurts you and the business. There’s no scalable process, so they just bring in every lead they get, leads that will never be a good fit. This causes stress and slows things down on the productive side of the business. Worst case scenario: they end up costing money by taking up so much time on bad leads, and you have to let them go.
Either way, you then have to start all the way over with somebody new.
Now, you might get lucky. You might find somebody who was killing it for somebody else, has their own successful sales process, and is able to quickly adapt it to gel with your company.
But who can afford to wait forever for somebody like that? Not only is it a pipedream, but you’ll also miss out on some great potential talent.
So, what do we do to fix this?
It starts with documenting your process.
You may think that it’s a waste of time, but please believe me when I say that it is not. A little time spent upfront documenting will save you tons of time later. This will help you:
- Train new salespeople: Instead of just giving them expectations and product knowledge, you’ll be able to hand them a blueprint of what you’ve used to find success for your company. They’ll know who the best leads are, how to qualify them, and how to reliably close the sale. No more constant call and pray or bringing in bad leads.
- Find the gaps that may take more time or prevent more success: When you’re just winging it, doing what you’ve always done without really thinking about it, there may be gaps that you don’t even recognize. These gaps could be lengthening the sales cycle, letting good fits fall through the cracks, or letting bad fits in. When it’s documented, you’ll have an easier time finding these gaps and closing them.
- Adapt: If you’re a business owner or manager, you probably know how vital adaptation is. Things change, trends change, people change. And you have to change too. But when your process is ingrained in your brain, it’s harder to change. Documenting the process puts it on paper and makes it a tangible thing that you can adapt when you need to.
- Improve communication: Having a documented sales process doesn’t just help your new hires. It helps everybody. With a process, everybody can be held to the same standards. Instead of just hitting a quota, their success will be judged by how well they follow the process. This eases stress, makes for a better company culture, and creates more success in the long run.
The thing to remember is that it isn’t supposed to be quick and easy. Very few of us are lucky enough to see huge success with little effort. There’s a lot of trial and error and finding ways to make it even better.
We’ve had well over 500 conversations since starting Adapted Growth. Remember that documenting your process even goes as deep as how you run each individual conversation in every step of the sales cycle.
Over 500, and we’re still looking to improve.
We are always trying new things to see if it shortens the sales cycle, qualifies prospects quicker or better, or closes more sales. Whether it works or not, it gets notated. When something works more than once, it goes into the documented process.
Malcolm Gladwell is well-known for enlightening us with his 10,000-hour rule for mastery. While it probably won’t take 10,000 hours to sell one product or service well, it does take time. And that is the time you’ve spent finding success in your business. When you’ve reached enough that you need somebody else to do what you’ve been doing, can you wait that long for them to figure it out on their own?
If you document your process, you don’t have to.