A good sales team and sales process is a vital part of any small business.
Even if you have a great product or service, you need someone to sell it to potential customers and bring in future partners to help your business grow. Part of having a good sales process is quality control, or QC. This is a business term for constant reflection: the sales process, specifically, the lead follow-up process, is one that should constantly be audited and adjusted. Viewing the entire process as fluid can help your company stay dynamic and lead to meaningful growth.
"That sales process has to be a part of the entire culture of the organization, because sales is not just about finding customers, it's about finding the right customers," said Mike Black, CEO and founder of Inciting Marketing Solutions. Black said that he started his company after viewing a gap in the industry, and constant auditing of his overall sales process is one of the factors that lead to his company's overall growth.
Before diving into how to properly analyze internal processes, it's important to understand the nature of QC and why it's a vital part of the sales process.
Why quality control is important in sales
Part of any good business process is constant refinement. After all, if you can't recognize inefficiencies or inconsistencies, adjust your process and better your business, how can you expect your business to succeed? Black went as far to say, "lead generation is useless if the sales team cannot close, and closing leads has everything to do with following a reliable sales process."
Black also said oftentimes many slowdowns or issues with clients are the result of the initial sales process – the sales process should be for vetting potential clients to see if they'd be good partners as much as it is about selling your own product or service. In nature, QC is a process where you don't necessarily need to use expensive tools or complicated sales or marketing strategies. Instead, think critically about what your company stands for and how your current processes are accomplishing that.
Jan Roos, founder of CaseFuel, breaks down the importance of QC into a math analogy.
"If you multiply any part of the [sales] equation by zero, the outcome is zero," he said. "Knowing your steps in detail allows you to diagnose areas instead of the entire process."
If you're running a business, QC should be a part of your everyday responsibilities. Some companies will go as far as introducing defined QC processes to ensure they're monitoring the clients they're taking in properly. Others will do it on an ongoing basis and make QC part of everything they do.
How to audit your lead follow-up system
Lead follow-up is an important part of the sales process where a salesperson will work with a potential client to showcase a product or service and gauge whether the potential customer is a good partner. Before you start with QCing this process, it's important to reflect on these questions:
- What kind of business are you and what do you stand for?
- What kind of client are you currently serving?
- Whom do you want to serve?
Black said an important part of the QC process is aligning everything your business does with its unique value proposition. Acknowledging your unique value proposition and re-establishing your goals as a business owner can provide you with the right lenses to analyze your current processes.
Generally, some businesses will establish well-defined QC and audit plans to constantly review a new sale, customer or process. These can be effective if your business is growing and you need to standardize the kind of ongoing reflection you already provide as a business leader. Defined QC plans can also be ideal for businesses only serving one type of specific customer – if you're only working with a certain type of client, then the same strategy can be applied to each deal and process.
You can get started with drafting a defined QC plan for your lead follow-up system by considering these points:
- How is each salesperson screening potential candidates?
- How is each conversation being conducted throughout the process?
- What is the current follow-up process and is it rendering clients that fit our business?
- Is my sales team aware of the right type of client for our business?
Once you have answers to these questions, you can draft plans and processes to get answers on an ongoing basis.
Black said at Inciting Marketing, the QC process is more ongoing and doesn't follow a rigid process. Black will analyze each new deal and new customer, as well as the overall sales and vetting process, at weekly meetings with his staff. He also said he'll use this time to understand how to better serve current clients. If there's a customer or client who isn't working out, Black isn't afraid to cut them loose.
"If during the course of delivering service to the client, my employees are finding that the client is not a good fit, then we have a discussion about that and what we missed in the sales process and how to deal with it now," said Black.
Whether you have a defined the QC process or auditing is something that's always on your mind, it's important to communicate with your sales team and understand what's happening throughout each step in the process.
Part of being an effective business owner is being willing to adjust course where necessary. As long as your unique value proposition and company mission are at the forefront of everything you do, processes should evolve and change to meet those goals. The QC process for lead follow-up systems will vary based on your specific business, but a curious business mindset and a willingness to question systems within your business to make the process more efficient is essential to any successful entrepreneur.
"You have to look at the entire life cycle of the customer to see if they are a good fit and if indeed your sales process is in tune with what is a good fit," said Black.