Here’s a statistic you may have seen. I can’t remember where I read it myself. It said the mere act of following a repeatable sales process helps salespeople close 15% more business.

I wish I knew where the information came from, but since I couldn’t verify it directly from the source, I went searching for data myself that might support the use of a sales process.

But before I share what I found, let me precisely explain what I mean by a sales process.

A Sales Process Defined

For me, a sales process is a repeatable, logical series of steps that includes milestones. It is a roadmap detailing exactly what needs to be accomplished at each stop along the way. By following a logical progression, salespeople can perfect the skill of asking the right questions and getting the necessary answers needed to move towards closing business. Using a sales process also helps them avoid wasting time with the wrong prospects – those that won’t close.

Specifically, the needed traits of a salesperson using a sales process include:

  • Follows Stages and Steps
  • Process has Most Key Milestones
  • Process has Adequate Sequence
  • Consistent and Effective Results
  • Little Wasted Time
  • Has and/or Follows an Effective Process
  • Uses an Effective Approach
  • Relationship-Based
  • CRM Savvy
  • Strategic Use of Sales Scorecard

A Large Pool of Data

To measure these traits for all our clients, we use the OMG battery of sales analysis tools. They provide us access to the data about this competency on nearly 475,000 salespeople.

So, I did some digging to see the differences in salespeople as it relates to following a sales process. I sliced and diced the data to pull out the Top 10% of salespeople and the Bottom 10%. The top or bottom label is derived from the Sales Percentile, which ranks a salesperson’s combination of skills, strengths and weaknesses from high to low.

The results from my analysis do seem to support the assertion that following a sales process produces better results. As a matter of fact, it is a clear differentiator between the top and bottom groups.

The Top 10% of salespeople in our database have a strong proficiency in following a sales process, possessing 77% of the needed traits, while the Bottom 10% do not, having a score of only 32%. Further, on average, ALL salespeople measured possess only 59% of the traits, and are not fully proficient.

This is telling. The very best salespeople across a cross section of industries are differentiated, at least in part, by their superior skill in following a repeatable, milestone-centric sales process.

And the good news is that there are no special talents required. Anybody can follow a process, if they understand it.

Where to Start?

If you don’t have a well-documented process and need to create one, here’s a place to begin:

  • Understand your products’ and services’ value proposition for your type of client.
  • Develop questions to draw out whether your prospect has issues that your products or services address, and to find out how compelling their reasons might be to deal with those issues.
  • Develop questions to understand what the prospect hopes to achieve and that help uncover the return on investment in your services, either quantitatively or qualitatively.
  • Create questions to learn how decisions are made; who makes them; what must happen for them to choose your services; under what circumstances would they either stay with their current provider or do nothing.

Repeat and Repeat Again

Practice following this type of process until it becomes natural and comfortable. It’s also important that all on the team are using their own words to draw out the above information, rather than following some script they can’t use effectively. However, just shooting from the hip does not produce reliable closing results either. This is why practice is so important.

Sometimes the use of an opportunity scoring system or scorecard can also be very useful in making sure everyone is analyzing opportunities the right way. If possible, integrate opportunity scoring into a CRM or pipeline management system.

Help for Beginners

Even novices can improve their sales effectiveness if they follow a repeatable sales process. Once they are doing so, they can prioritize perfecting their interaction with prospects.

You can calculate your team’s precision using a predictive sales process with this Sales Process Grader. It is easy and painless, and you will get feedback instantly (without providing your contact info to anyone).