Dead Simple Start-Up Sales Processes

One of our biggest sales operations hang-ups to date has been the lack of clarity around the sales process and lead/opportunity designations, so I spent a lot of time last week documenting Argyle's sales process and tweaking Salesforce to accomodate.  

We created specialized values (beyond Salesforce's standard values) for Lead Status, Activity Type, and Opportunity Stage and a few flow charts to reflect our view of the world and our evolving sales process.  We discussed as a team this morning.

A few lessons learned:

  • The process should be obvious.  It is important that it is very clear to the team how they should log their activities, opportunities, etc.  They've got a thousand things on their plate, so the workflow should be dead simple and straightforward - otherwise you don't get the data or behavior that you're seeking as a manager.  For example, it was previously unclear when the rep should convert a Lead into an Opportunity.  No longer - we set very clear criteria for doing so.
  • A very clear process helps the team do their job.  Selling becomes just that - a very clear process.  Deals start to look the same, conversations get more consistent, and punches get tighter.  The goal is to make the process completely repeatable.
  • Beware of transition states - objects can exist in limbo forever.  We created new values like "Unable To Qualify" so that leads don't exist as "Contacted" forever and "Closed Dead" so that stalled Opportunties don't sit in the "Negotiation" stage indefinitely.  Everything should move toward a terminal state.
  • Recognize that your sales process is always evolving.  We've made some strides recently, but still have a long way to go before we reach the sales process Promised Land.  You can always simplify or augment as necessary.  The sales guys will usually pipe up if something isn't working very well!  

 Thoughts?  Anything else to consider for early-stage, sales-driven start-ups?