Listen to what your sales team tell you are the blocks. To quote Henry Ford, sometimes they might ask for a 'faster horse' or put up a smokescreen to deflect from their lack of confidence or capability, but there's usually some truth in what they're asking for too.
Get a plan together to assess the situation in more detail, map clear processes, join up other departments like marketing, sales support and customer success. Be clear about how and when to engage resources.
In our experience, some of the issues here are compounded by how sales has historically been viewed by the rest of the business. Take time to improve relationships with other teams. Work together to create more joined-up collaborative ways of working through the whole customer lifecycle and open the doors to greater mutual respect and more streamlined processes and handovers.
Take a good look at the sales collateral, website, marketing and lead-gen content. Is it telling the right story in a consistent manner? This can take time and span multiple subject experts so work out and communicate a prioritised and realistic plan to produce the right content and align the associated activities.
Ensure that incentives, commissions and reporting align to what you need to deliver. Do they map to your sales cycles? To order value and complexity? Do they reward the right behaviours and actions? If, for instance, your sales cycles are longer, more complex and involve more stakeholders, you may need to think about:
- Are you driving short-term reactive behaviour by focusing almost entirely on what business is closing this month rather than taking a more balanced short, medium and long-term view?
- Do you reinforce the outdated view that there's only one decision maker by asking 'Who's the decision maker?' versus 'Describe the decision making roles and process'
- Do your forecasting stages and your management questions reflect the fact that Evaluate, Decide and Place order are most likely three distinct phases within the customer buying journey, managed by different stakeholders. Or do you simply ask ' When will they make the decision?'
- Is there a culture of pushing early to get a proposal in front of the customer before you fully understand their needs and criteria and when you should still be qualifying and developing your influence?