Why Milestones Matter
What is the actual process by which sales occur in your company? If you mapped the key steps leading from an initial call on a prospect to a completed sale, what would the map typically look like?
Most companies can’t say. If they can, they almost always have too many or the wrong milestones. Truth be told, they fly by the seat of their pants. What’s the accuracy of the sales pipeline at any given time? With the wrong milestones, projections are little more than wild guesses.
Action Selling teaches that every sales call must begin with a Commitment Objective. This is an agreement the salesperson wants from the customer to take some action — a “next step” — that will keep things moving toward a sale.
In business to business sales, the next step might be a meeting for a deeper needs analysis, or an introduction to a higher-level decision maker, or a full-scale demonstration of the product — whatever is logically necessary to keep the momentum going.
Each of those next steps is what Action Selling calls a milestone. You will find that certain definable milestones always appear along your company’s path to a sale.
The Milestones ARE the Process
When you document those milestones, your sales process suddenly becomes crystal clear. Why? Because the milestones are the process, the real process, the one that shows you exactly how sales actually happen for your company.
Now you can get much more solid answers to vital questions. What’s the reality of the sales pipeline, for any particular salesperson or for the sales force as a whole? Just look at which milestones have been completed and which haven’t. What is your revenue projection for next quarter? Look at the milestones.
There is nothing mysterious about a sales process based on milestones. It can be easily explained to others in the company. That means a common language and a common understanding for people in sales, marketing, operations, service, and other functions.
What needs to happen next if we want to make a sale? Everybody knows because the milestones are the process.
Action Selling in ACTION!
Team Solutions Inc., an industrial cleaning company with U.S. headquarters in Taylor, Mich., used Action Selling training to change the way it thinks about its sales process. The results have been . . . well, “eye-opening” would be a mild way to put it. Here is a report from Tom Rowland, vice president of business development for Team Solutions.
“Our entire company is now engaged in the sales process. Based on Action Selling training, we determined that our sales process consists of eight milestones. Four of them have become what we call Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).”
“KPIs serve several important functions. They provide a structure to gauge movement in the sales process. They are used to evaluate and coach salespeople. They tell operational departments what to expect. They improve revenue-forecasting accuracy and increase management’s confidence in the sales pipeline. They deliver to marketing a more accurate idea of what’s working and where sales bottlenecks occur, allowing marketing to be more helpful.”
“Our entire company benefits from a well-defined and orchestrated sales process. Understanding of the process permeates different departments and lets them function better as a team. Their meetings with customers are far more productive. And, of course, so are ours.”
For information about how to make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.