I’ve often been asked as the CEO and co-founder of Sales Readiness Group, what does “sales readiness” really mean. In today’s hyper competitive sales environment, companies are looking for their sales organization to consistently deliver great results. Sales readiness is the work that needs to take place up front so that your sales organization can produce those results. For a company to be “ready to sell” it must optimize numerous sales readiness factors. These include (i) overall sales strategy, (ii) sales methodology, (iii) integrated sales & marketing, (iv) performance management systems, and (v) sales organization and talent.
Every sales executive is focused on how they can make their sales organization more effective. After all, we would all like to sell more, reduce our sales cycles, improve win ratios, and have more productive sales teams. The problem, of course, is that the concept of sales force effectiveness is so broad that it makes it difficult for sales executives to figure out what needs fixing.
Sales enablement is booming. According to a 2017 survey of sales organizations conducted by CSO Insights, 59.2% of the respondents had a dedicated sales enablement function. This is up from only 19.3% in 2013. Sales enablement is a catch-all term applied to any practice that attempts to increase sales productivity. It’s not uncommon to find sales enablement departments responsible for a plethora of disciplines such as strategy, sales processes, analytics and reporting, lead generation, training, tool selection and content management.
In the sales profession, industry thought leaders and analysts periodically shine a flashlight on a particular technological tool and wonder whether salespeople or sales behaviors will be replaced by it. This happened in the early 2000s when email marketing technology was first being adopted by large sales organizations. The promise was that this technology would, among other things, eliminate the need for salespeople to prospect. Of course, that didn’t happen. As everyone’s inboxes got flooded with similar sounding “canned” marketing emails, it turned out we still needed humans to generate authentic and engaging messages that prospects would actually respond to.
We all know it is important to consistently follow a sales process. In fact, according to CSO Insights sales organizations where sales reps consistently followed a sales process dramatically outperformed sales organizations lack a standard process (71.8% of reps achieving quota vs. 59.9% of reps achieving quota). While the sales process is important, there is another process taking place during a sales conversation that is often overlooked by salespeople: the buyer’s purchase process.
What's more important: developing selling skills or following a sales process? This question has become much more amplified as sales organizations continue to implement CRM systems with a pre-defined sales process (or more accurately sales pipeline stages), and are trying to figure out how to align their sales skills training with their pipeline methodology.