Develop a Mission Critical Plan to Build Sales

Lind Hanson

How well do you manage sales? Many construction companies give the responsibility of sales to their estimating department but building sales demands collaboration across departments. Don't be tricked into thinking that you can't build sales because your estimating department is too busy. Take a leap and identify and document how your sales process currently works. Why? Because it will enable you to unlock opportunities to:

  • Increase sales
  • Increase efficiency
  • Eliminate non-value-added activities
  • Reduce cycle time
  • Expand service capabilities
  • Simplify work flow
  • Gain buy-in and organizational support for change

Mapping your sales process is a technique companies use for creating a common vision and shared language for improving business results. Sales process mapping is also a visual way of identifying the activities and tasks involved with the sales process including what gets done in a process, who does what, and what is produced at each stage. Start with these four fundamental steps:

Step 1: Map the process
Analyze and document the way your sales process currently works, in order to fully understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie. This can be done by using a simple flow chart. Document all the activities that are currently taken, responsibilities and participants involved in the sales process, and interfaces that exist with other processes including internal and external customers and suppliers. This stage involves working with the people in your organization who know and understand a process best, starting with your estimator(s). Ensure the data is actually valid by reviewing the data with the people who do the work, one step at a time, and/or while observing it being done. For example, the flowchart below identifies what might be a typical process when a bid is received:

Bid Process-Estimating

  • Receive Request for Proposal
  • RFP Analysis
  • Findings and Recommendations to CEO
  • Respond to RFP, yes/no
  • Attend Vendor Meeting with Questions
  • Gather Data
  • Develop Pricing
  • Develop Plans
  • Submit plan to CEO for approval
  • Submit Written Proposal

The above bid process would become part of the overall sales process that would include how the company gets on the bid lists, the process once a bid is accepted, the workflow of the project, and how the work moves between billing, project management and marketing and other departments. This information is what drives communication and collaboration, making process mapping a powerful tool for generating a shared framework for accountability.

Step 2: Analyze performance
Once the map is complete, it then needs to be analyzed further. To get a complete picture it is important to record the time it takes to do each step, the costs and the results. Maps can also be rearranged by goals such as: marketing, qualifying, proposing, and delivering. Goals will cross departmental boundaries. By carrying out more in-depth analysis a company can begin identifying lost opportunities, create benchmarks and identify best and worst practices. The analysis stage reveals the main ways to improve the performance of a sales process, showing the impact on revenues and what has to be done in order to improve.

Step 3: Redesign processes and implement changes
Having mapped a process, analyzed its performance, and identified the strengths and weaknesses, your company can consider how to redesign the process in order to improve its effectiveness. This involves developing a vision of how the ideal process would be designed and comparing it with the actual situation. Sometimes this leads to the conclusion that the process can be optimized or it may be clear that a process should be completely redesigned from scratch. At this stage, the financial impact of the process changes can be calculated, the marketing support can be identified, and a plan can be implemented with clear objectives, activities, responsibilities and milestones.

Step 4: Track results
It is important to monitor the changes in your sales process. To do this, use tools such as satisfaction surveys, job descriptions, performance measures, and bonuses.

In summary, sales process mapping provides mission-critical benefits to any customer-facing organization by providing the framework for individuals to understand and accept performance goals across functional areas, development of team collaboration, and a clear focus on creating real value for customers while increasing sales.

Linda Hanson, CMC, is a certified management consultant and author of 10 Steps to Marketing Success. She writes, speaks and consults on marketing, management and customer service issues and can be contacted at www.llhenterprises.com. Sign up for her free newsletter The Superior Performance Report.

Linda Hanson, CMC, is a certified management consultant and author of 10 Steps to Marketing Success. She writes, speaks and consults on marketing, management and customer service issues and can be contacted at www.llhenterprises.com. Sign up for her free newsletter The Superior Performance Report.

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