While the phrase “clear path” is not new I am the first to coin in as it relates to selling, or more specifically Clear Path Selling™. This is a idea and methodology I have talked about used and implemented for at least 20 years, from my time in the trenches to executive roles leading sales teams.
So what does Clear Path Selling™ mean? In the simplest terms it means providing an environment for sales to be conducted with the least amount of obstacles and non-sales related tasks possible, thus providing a clear path.
Because sales is hard! It is made harder still when getting from initial contact to a signature on a contract requires tasks that do not make that journey faster. Now some veteran sales people may say “this sounds like a bunch of excuses”! What if they are not excuses and are very real obstacles to making that time to a signature on a contract longer for no reason?
If you are in business to make a profit or gain funding to provided the services your organization offers you need to make that process efficient for your teams. You are probably thinking “of course I want the sales process to be efficient”, but are you really providing this for your teams? Do you know what causes frustration and kills efficiency in your current processes?
For this article I am going to focus on the obstacles encountered and created by the sales and marketing organizations only, there is plenty to cover with just these two groups themselves.
Some of the common obstacles I have encountered personally or through consulting with organizations are, but not limited to the following:
Marketing’s goal is to drive as many leads to sales as possible often at the expense of qualifying for quality or with enough or correct information. The volume of leads and not the quality is often the measuring stick for marketing. This is counterproductive for the sales team, if sales is busy qualifying they are not focused on known quality prospects and the sales cycle gets longer. A clear understanding between the two groups on the appropriate requirements or needs of a quality lead for sales is crucial to the success of the company.
There is a plethora of sources to gather information about prospects in the marketplace, but if that data is incomplete or incorrect it takes time to make it complete and correct, time not being spent selling. Good data hygiene across sales and marketing is an essential element for garnering insights into what is effective in driving interest in your company. Qualifying and contacting a prospect while providing sales the intelligence they need to solve that prospect’s needs. This is an area that technology can be an albatross or the key to selling more in a shorter amount of time.
Technology can be great, it can gather information autonomously, contact or communicate with prospects in an automated but personalized way, and it can overload your team with information that is unnecessary for making the sale. Too many times I have seen situations where teams are provided with too many tools and systems that they spend almost as much time logging in and entering, editing, and updating information as they do on the phone or out with prospects. Talk to your teams, there is not a one size fits all solution for everyone, so don’t think just because you invested in a platform that you need to make everyone use it if it isn’t contributing to making sales.
Now some veteran sales people may say “this sounds like a bunch of excuses” but my personal experience is when a company implements and dictates use of tools, methods, or processes than these excuses become real obstacles to making the time to signature on a contract longer for no reason.
Those were just three areas that can cause clutter or inefficiency for your teams preventing Clear Path Selling™ from happening for your business. I will continue to breakdown each of these areas and more with real examples I have seen and experienced in future insights here on our website so be prepared for some “that sounds our organization” moments and what you can do to make the shift to Clear Path Selling™.
In the meantime, here are some simple steps you can take now to evaluate your processes today.
ONE: Plan for success by clearly stating your goals and objectives for sales and marketing and be sure each team knows what they are and why they are important.
TWO: Time is money, so map out where your teams are spending their time and start removing tasks, process, and operations that don’t align with achieving the goals you set.
THREE: Evaluate the tools you are or are not providing your teams, divest the ones not being used or not aiding in the achievement of your goals. Sometimes this means writing off the cost of a poor decision, but it is worth it if it puts your teams in the position to succeed.
It starts with the belief that change needs to occur and then the belief that change is a good thing. Often it takes a different perspective, someone not biased by history and politics, but someone focused on the best solution. You have heard the phrase “work smarter not harder” so start working smarter by getting out of your own way, embracing changing the way “you’ve always done things”. A good place to start is with that fresh perspective into your organization, we can provide that view, let us know when you are ready.
Published by Rich Rutherford on 03-21-2018
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