July 21 by Alex Gammelgard

There’s no way around it. In today’s increasingly competitive market, if you’re working from an outdated sales process, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Here are three easy — but essential — things you can start doing today to improve your sales process.

1. Take feedback from the front lines

The most important questions you can ask about your business processes are, “Why do we do things this way?” or, “Can we make it better?”

While you may be asking these questions at an executive level, there are more ideas and innovations that you can harness from your community and your customers than anybody else. And it’s the people on the front lines — your customer service representatives, account managers, tech support and sales reps — who are face-to-face with these ideas every single day.

Ask the people on the front lines to identify where the flaws and contract bottlenecks are in how you do business. (Believe me, they’ll know!)

Sometimes it can be tough to hear that there are aspects of your business that need to change, but if you can take criticism with an open mind, and funnel feedback to the people who are empowered to make changes, your internal teams and customers will only respect you more.

2. Eliminate administrative work from your sales process 

If you want to run a smarter business, the very first thing you should do is eliminate as much manual work as possible.

Say your teams spend just 15% of their time — or 72 minutes a day — dealing with manual copy/paste, paper-based signature processes, or manual approvals processes. That’s 360 minutes a week, 1440 minutes a month, and 17,280 minutes a year! All that time that could be spent on pursuing new ideas, or going the extra mile with customers, but instead, it’s wasted on menial administrative tasks that add absolutely no value to your business.

Automation is essential to driving productivity and creating a highly motivated team — especially when it comes to closing sales. Automation allows you to go to market faster, makes selling easier and drives more revenue. Even if you can only reduce a small percentage of the manual work in your processes, over time, you’ll find the gains in productivity add up.

. Centralize Your Data In The Cloud

If you’re one of the few remaining “cloud hold-outs,” it’s time for you to get with the program!

When you conduct business in the cloud you can move faster, and make huge gains in productivity, visibility, and security. (And for people who doubt the security of the cloud I ask you this — is your money safer under your bed, or in a bank?) When your data is in the cloud, global teams can work together in sync, even across multiple geographies and time-zones, and time-savers like mobile approvals, e-signature and partner or customer portals can be enabled.

For more ideas on business or process innovation, check out Shifting Business Tectonics and the Acceleration of Innovation. To learn more about how companies are improving their sales process in the cloud, read 2014: The Year Users Drive Enterprise Software Success

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