How to Make Your Existing Sales Process More Effective

By Alex Bartholomaus

In my last article, I explained how as many as 90 percent of all companies do not have a formalized sales process. But in fairness, many companies do have a decent foundation of a sales process. And the process of formalizing them will require much less than a company that has nothing in place.

As these companies progress through this process, it will be more about optimizing than creating. And, in this process of optimizing, it will be important to consider adopting or updating the customer relationship management (CRM) being used. It will involve increasing the frequency of the review of the sales process by management.


Sales intelligence and technology have come a long way in order to help salespeople organize themselves with CRM software. This tool allows them to track their activity to better stay focused on the next steps involved in the process. The tool also helps them capture leads and track their evolution from prospecting until the sales ends in success or failure.

Tracking the Development of a Sales Opportunity

In my last article we learned about the key parts of a sales opportunity. They included four fundamental stages:

  1. need and/or problem,
  2. urgency to address a need,
  3. budget to address this need/problem, and
  4. how do they decide to make a decision.

It is critical for sales management leaders to train their sales teams to not make presentations and/or give any proposals unless they have the information above. If a salesperson is missing a component of the opportunity, then the chances of closing the sale go down.

Objections used for not buying are often related to that missing piece of information. Even though a prospect might need a solution, if the urgency is not clear, then the prospects are in no hurry to say yes. If prospects need the solution, and have the urgency to do something about it, but the salesperson is unclear on budget, then you have no idea whether or not they can afford the solution.

Okay, say you’re clear on three of the aforementioned components, but you’re not clear who is the decision maker. Then how are you going to get the prospect to make a decision, if you don’t know who is really making the decisions?

While it seems elementary to get this information in order to close the prospect, salespeople fail to do so every day. In order to help increase the chances of the sales team getting the information, sales management needs to track this information with greater frequency.  The ideal frequency is based on the length of sales cycle. If the cycle is shorter, than tracking it on a weekly to bi-weekly basis makes sense.  If the cycle is longer, than tracking it between bi-weekly to monthly is better suited.

Sales leaders are pivotal in the optimization of a sales process, as they need to be supportive and patient in the adoption of a more rigorous process. They also need to hold sales management accountable if they fall short of executing the sales process, since it’s only as strong as its weakest link.

Alex P. Bartholomaus is managing partner at People Stretch Solutions and works to help small to mid-sized companies drive growth and profits. He combines a non-traditional approach of psychology, behavioral science and emotional intelligence to help sales forces and leadership teams perform at higher levels. You can e-mail Alex at
Originally published: Feb 15, 2012

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