When it comes to changing the habits and processes of a sales operation, there are no overnight successes. It starts with a vision and a commitment by your organization to work incrementally toward a goal. In the case of G&A Partners, the evolution of the sales process occurred over the course of a few years—and it will continue to be refined as the company grows and the marketplace continues to mature. So what was G&A’s blueprint for building more efficiency and consistency into their sales process? John G. Allen, Executive Vice President of Sales at G&A, outlines the six steps the organization took to build a foundation for success.

Step 1 — Contact & Opportunity Management

Getting all of your account contacts, leads, and opportunities into a CRM system gives you visibility into who those individuals are. It’s the first step to creating a more efficient system for managing sales activity while improving collaboration across your entire organization. However, it’s important to remember that this is an ongoing process. Keeping your data clean, consistent and complete is challenging, but it’s an investment that will yield high quality insight to help you accelerate your success and reduce delays in the sales process.

Step 2 — Task Tracking

Setting up task tracking gives you visibility into activity levels for each of your sales reps and across the entire team. But first you need to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will measure to assess the effectiveness of your sales organization. The challenge is there are dozens of sales metrics you can measure. You might start with some basics around activity level per rep, monthly sales vs. target, and average sales cycle. (See Part 3 for more about measuring performance metrics.) By aligning tasks with KPIs, you reinforce the desired behaviors (e.g., call volume, meetings), create greater accountability, and begin to collect data that can be analyzed to identify trends between activities and closed deals.

Step 3 — Pipeline Visibility

You need a real-time view of each opportunity in the pipeline, from early stage (initial meetings) to late stage (proposal and negotiation). This helps you create more accurate revenue projections, understand your conversion rates at each stage, and home in on where to focus your efforts. It’s also critical that sales reps have access to their performance metrics as well as regularly scheduled pipeline reviews with their manager.

Step 4 — Dashboard Creation

Dashboards allow you to get snapshots of the data you want to see on a consistent basis to help you manage salespeople and their activities. The data available in sales management software can get deep, and repeatedly running reports can cause confusion and slow you down. Customizing a dashboard with your need-to-know information helps you and your executive team get the answers they need quickly, and the data will be there if you ever need to drill down for more detail.

Step 5 — Data Analysis

Now that you’re tracking activity and have access to this information, you can start tracking individual data points like closed deals by industry or referral source, as well as advancement ratios and close ratios by lead source or industry. That way you can go even deeper and offer data-driven guidance to sales reps. For example, you may decide not to focus on an industry because it has a long lead time or a history of not closing as successfully. Your analysis can also inform higher-level sales strategy as you think about defining your target market (see Part 1) and focusing sales resources on more profitable opportunities.

Step 6 — Process Integration

The final step is taking your process and integrating it with other sales enablement tools to help you become even more efficient. Those technologies need to map to steps in your sales process—and communicate with each other—to increase speed and insight. If the technology is too disconnected from each other or your process, it can slow down your sales team and have a negative impact on productivity. Allen explains that a turning point for G&A was hiring a dedicated resource to manage the organization’s sales enablement tools. “Many small PEOs can’t afford to hire this position, but if you have your sales leadership managing your CRM, you’re not going to take it to the next level. We hired someone to manage our sales enablement tools that came with the specific skill set.”

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This article is excerpted from the PrismHR eBook, How to Win More Deals with A Smarter HRO Sales Process.