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4 Alarming Signs of a Broken Sales Process

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I lean pretty heavily on my editor.

She provides insights that take my posts from average to good to great. In addition, she has set up defined steps I can follow to ensure I get my post right.

When the system we’ve established breaks down, I can determine what didn’t work and where I need to improve. This system plays a major role in my day-to-day success.

Sales works in a similar way.

Each team has defined sales process stages they lean on in order to be successful. But what happens when that process starts to break down? Successful sales teams have to be able to identify where the sales process is broken.

Think about it: Today’s buyer is different than the buyer the traditional sales process was created for. As the buyer changes, shouldn’t your process change too?

Below are four signs that your playbook is broken and what you can do to fix the sales process.

1) Too few warm leads.

The first sign of a broken sales process is a lack of warm leads entering your pipeline. Sales reps often rely on purchased lists to generate leads, or cold-source prospects based solely on their LinkedIn title instead of their level of interest. These ineffective strategies cause breakdowns in the sales process because reps are reaching out to prospects that haven’t expressed an interest in their product and might not even need or benefit from what the rep is offering.

Instead, reps need to pursue prospects based on what they do, not who they are. For instance, who’s a warmer lead: A prospect who has never visited your company’s pricing page and has no idea who you are, but has the title “CFO” on their LinkedIn profile? Or a finance manager who checked out your prices five times in the past two days and just opened your latest email? It’s a no-brainer.

Your CRM can be a critical tool in identifying buyer interest. For example, HubSpot’s free CRM shows reps when prospects visit their website and open their emails. Instead of reaching out totally cold every morning, try waking up with a full warm pipeline.

2) Dismal connection rates.

Simply put: Cold emails and cold calls are fading -- fast.

A study from Leap Job discovered that only 2% of cold calls result in meetings. If reps are only booking two out of 100 prospects for meetings, that could signify a break in the sales process.

Developing rapport and building a bond with a prospect online before reaching out is a method reps should consider. By identifying where prospects hang out online, reps can engage buyers in conversation, have constructive debates, and begin to add value. And this means that when the rep eventually reaches out via email their name will be familiar to the buyer -- increasing the likelihood of a response.

3) Poor follow up etiquette.

Reps who send worthless follow up emails to prospects a million times a week are unlikely to hear back because prospects are in search of value from sales reps. When a prospect receives constant “just checking in” emails, they don’t see a return on the time they are investing and might not respond.

Reps should instead focus on providing value to the buyer as well as guiding prospects -- not forcing them -- through their individual buying journey on their unique timeline. There are a multitude of ways to provide value in a sales email, so there’s no excuse to send pointless messages.

As Andy Paul writes in Amp Up Your Sales, any touch could be the deciding moment a prospect becomes a buyer or passes on your product. With this in mind, make sure each and every touch offers value.

4) Bailing on the relationship once prospects buy.

Reps need to be proactive with current customers, not reactive. Salespeople who only respond to customers when they hear from them three times in a row aren’t setting the right precedent.

Being proactive means listening to feedback and checking in regularly instead of only when a customer has an issue. By engaging with customers often and ensuring they are doing well, salespeople can build credibility and trust, and keep the client around for the long haul.

Customers also help generate referrals. As opposed to reaching out to new prospects cold, reps can rely on current clients to provide warm leads, which close at much higher rates than non-referred prospects.

A rep is only as strong as the sales process they rely on. As the modern buyer changes, a company’s sales process needs to change too. The old playbook is fading out as a new one emerges. The reps who focus on building relationships, educating, and guiding their prospects and customers are emerging as leaders in the field.

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