Let me ask you a couple of questions:
Are you worried that some of your processes and procedures within your business are inefficient, complicated or being completely ignored?
Are you concerned that other procedures are nearing breaking point and are constraining the growth of the business?
If you have these or similar thoughts, then you are almost certainly losing money and should really take time out to review your current processes.
Speaking with many small and medium enterprise (SME’s) business owners they are aware that they should address these issues, but the big question is how?
How do you do this in a logical way that does not become overcomplicated, time consuming and subsequently more costly than the original process you were trying to improve.
I would like to share with you what I recommend to my client; starting with the basics of process mapping and then building upon this with a high level look at how this can work with respect to your Sales and Account Management activities.
The first port of call when dealing with any process concern is to look at what (specifically not who) is causing the problem, this is commonly known as the “AS IS” phase. Processes underpin everything we do and any work on improving existing processes starts with understanding what is going on right now. It is more than likely that if your current processes are not documented then they have never been properly reviewed.
Whenever mapping a process, it is always best to map the end to end process with all the different user representatives in the room together. Make sure all participants are fully briefed on why they are involved, and all are empowered to speak out and make suggestions. This enables everyone to get a shared understanding of what is going on and it will identify waste in the current system and potential areas of improvement.
Reviewing and mapping individual parts (in silos) can easily identify savings in one area at a cost to other areas up or down stream in the process.
It is important to capture not only the physical process but also the detail (including times/costs and other metrics relevant to the business) of the process. With this information you can set baselines for the current process and therefore measure the benefits from any changes when you create the “TO BE” phase of the new procedure.
The” To BE” phase can incorporate more than one change or more than one proposed alternative process. The more information or detail you can add to the “AS IS” and hence the “TO BE” the better you will be able to contrast and compare.
At this point some businesses start to struggle if they have complexed processes and in these instances I always recommend using a business process mapping software called Engage which allows you to quickly and easily plot the process and add details and then it automates the comparisons outputs.
Now how do you transfer this practice to looking at your Sales and Account management procedure?
When we look at Sales and account management, I believe that we are looking at three separate but interconnected areas, Sales Strategy, Sales Process and Account management. However, as per the instruction above we must never consider these as separate silos hence the interconnectivity but neither can we consider these 3 areas as separate to the business as a whole.
Sales strategy must first consider the question of growth. Of course, all companies want growth but how much growth and most importantly what is the impact on the business to meet this additional demand?
How does a 10% increase in sales impact on finance in respect to cash flow and stock levels, operations in respect to delivery and support, HR in respect to workforce and skill sets and that’s just for starters!
Then there is the interconnection with marketing. Do you really know who your customer is; are you missing opportunities to increase your reach via new markets or products?
If you have a grasp on your customer are you maximising your available resources to reach out to that customer and are you communicating with them in their language and via topics that relate to them?
Are you reviewing previous marketing and sales history for affirmation of what works and what doesn’t, are your campaigns structured and relevant to each channel?
This is all assuming that you are looking to sell the same product to the same sectors, any deviation from this will add even more complexity and interdependencies to consider.
Then there is the pure sales element, is the sales team able to meet these targets. Do you need more team members, do they require training or more experience salespeople to meet the higher targets? Is the commission programme affordable, equitable and aspirational?
Once the sales strategy has been set then how do we implement the sales plan?
Do you have a structured process that enables you to identify potential prospects, allows you to engage effectively with the client to understand if there is a genuine opportunity and gather the relevant information to provide the best proposal for the new business?
Furthermore, what do you do with this information, do you measure and review both success and failure, do you use it to gear up the business to meet future demands and if so, how accurately does the expected meet the realised outcomes?
Finally, do you conclude the sales process with the same vigour and attention that you give to winning the deal. Handover of any new business from sales to operations is vitally important to ensure customer satisfaction and retention. Indeed, handover begins right at the start of the process with presales. When you meet with new prospects you are not only understanding their needs, but you are promoting the values of your company. In presales you are assuring the prospect that you have a solution that meets their needs, you can deliver within the timeframe agreed and support their business so that they can maximise their return on investment.
Post sales (account management), If you offer support are you meeting your service level agreements? Even if no support is physically supplied are you acting as a trusted adviser and offering support and knowledge to your clients to move their business forward and your own relationship with them?
How often do you communicate with your clients? Do you have regular reviews to get feedback on your performance, an understanding of their business and to learn about potential new opportunities?
If you have a high level of customer satisfaction are you exploiting this with a referrals programme and importing this feedback into your sales strategy so that you can consistently update who your ideal clients are for prospecting?
Obviously, this is a high-level overview of business process mapping and what to consider when evaluating the sales and account management function within your business. However, I hope this helps you demystify the requirements of process review and provides you with a skeleton upon which you can start to begin the assessment of your current sales and account management function.
About Fresh Eyes Associates
Working in partnership with your business, Fresh Eyes (FE) offer impartial advice on how to reduce costs and increase revenues based on over 30 years of commercial sales and account management experience (owning start-ups and SME’s and working for regional and enterprise class businesses).
Unlike many consultancies and action coaches we do not offer set programmes for businesses to follow. We believe that every business is unique with their own requirements and culture. A one size fits all approach can miss the subtleties that make every business different to their competitors.
Because most start-up’s and SME’s are usually both time and cash poor FE offers consultancies between 1 – 3 days in duration providing individually tailored review sessions focused on Sales Strategy, Sales Process and Account Management.
Our consultancy will shorten the time taken to undertake a review, bring a fresh perspective and allow you to concentrate on areas where you can get the best return on investment.
To learn more or arrange an initial meeting please call 07971 052857