The connection between the sales function and corporate strategy is tenuous in many B2B companies. Even when given clear direction of their company's revenue, margin, and expense targets, Sales is mostly on their own to determine how they will go about achieving those targets while satisfying the needs of other cross-functional stakeholders in the organization. Departments whose objectives are impacted by Sales behavior implement siloed processes to protect their priorities, often frustrating the sales organization and doing nothing to enhance deal making or the customer experience. And these gaps between sales and marketing, and other functional areas, too, are taken for granted in many industries.
Here's what we found out from salespeople and leaders in 55 companies:
Overall, how satisfied are you with your internal deal-approval process?
- Sales: 84% of respondents are not highly satisfied
- Leaders: 76% of respondents are not highly satisfied
How effective (quality) and efficient (speed) is the internal deal-approval process?
- Sales: 86% of respondents answered it is not highly effective and efficient
- Leaders: 80% of respondents answered it is not highly effective and efficient
Participants were asked what makes the internal deal-approval process effective and efficient, or not. For those who said their process was highly effective and efficient, their answers were mostly tied to decentralization and authority. A representative sample of their comments includes:
“Decentralization makes it efficient. It’s effective in direct proportion to the experience of the executive.”
“I have authority to make decisions and the general manager is pretty easy to get the OK on non-standard deals.”
For those who said their process was not highly effective and efficient, their answers were mostly tied to centralization and a complicated process. A representative sample of their comments includes:
“Internal approval process takes awhile as (there are) many stakeholders, very busy, most of the time without deputy in case of absence.”
“The process is lacking in complex deals as sales executives may see collaboration as an internal roadblock, someone who might say we can’t do it vs. getting buy in and support and adding creative brainpower to complex deals.”
For those who said their process added to their ability to win business, their answers were mostly tied to how well it brought clarity and focus on external customer value. A representative sample of their comments includes:
“After a brief review, you might uncover and add other items of value to increase your chance of winning the deal.”
“It draws in other sales management, engineering and marketing into the discussion. Other best practices then can be applied which may have worked on other accounts.”
For those who said their process detracted from their ability to win business, their answers were mostly tied to a slow process and lack of flexibility. A representative sample of their comments includes:
“The process can take away from flexibility on terms and price that would HELP sales close deals. Legal and price review could be more streamlined if it lived closer to front line sales.”
“Takes too much time and lack of adequate resources.”
For those who said their process added to the quality of their deals, their answers were mostly tied to added detail, connection to strategy and the customer-focused nature of the review. A representative sample of their comments includes:
“Ensures deals reflect the most current positioning and capability in the quality of our messaging.”
“Ability to provide a very detailed offer that can be easily recognized and understood by the customer.”
For those who said their process detracted from the quality of their deals, their answers were mostly tied to an internal focus on price and budget rather than on value to the client. A representative sample of their comments includes:
“The process is not based on value proposition but rather corporate budget goals NOT aligned with the value proposition of channel partners and customers – detracts from value conversations and reinforces price focus.”
“It is always late, is fairly generic and rarely sells the solution to describe the value or benefit for the individual opportunity.”
I'd be interested in what's going on within your own organization. Please comment below including what industry you work in.
If you'd like to know more about our study, request the research to be emailed to you here.