Analyzing and repairing your sales process

I think a lot about the sales process. It’s a key element to using the Business Diamond Framework™ successfully to drive innovative change into an organization. Specifically, I use it to create content strategy, which is a burgeoning discipline that aligns content with your business’ aims. In this blog, I’ll talk about aligning content with your business’ sales process.

One of the strategic tools I’ve used in the past to examine the sales process has been the Flowscape and just recently, I’ve found that I’ve started to use it more and more.

Flowscape is a visual thinking tool by the guy who thinks about thinking, Edward DeBono. (See Note 1). He created this tool to map trains of thought and to bring to light the real issues in a confusing situation… which is exactly what makes it perfect for the sales process.

This is how I use it for analyzing and correcting the sales process:
1. List out all the different touchpoints that you produce or develop or participate in (web articles, billboards, business cards, website, Twitter, etc., etc.) and assign a letter to each. It doesn’t have to be in any specific order.
aaronhoos_flowscape1

2. List how one links to the other. For example, let’s say that Twitter drives traffic to your website and on your website you’ve got a place to sign up for an e-zine. So connect them together by noting how one leads to another. i.e., the website (B) leads to the newsletter (D)

aaronhoos_flowscape2

3. Next, map it out using the connections you’ve identified between the letters above.

aaronhoos_flowscape3

So, you’ve got your sales process drawn out in front of you. Now here is where the fun starts (at least for me).

Watch for warning signs: In the above example, it’s fairly straightforward but more often than not I see sales processes that look more like the one below, with crazy closed loops (F>G>H) or marketing that goes nowhere (I).

aaronhoos_flowscape4

Once you have your sales process mapped out, it becomes so much easier to figure out what to do about it. Find a way to connect your sales process together. Eliminate the parts that go nowhere.

Once you’ve fixed your sales process you can start to improve it. Create analytics around each point and make sure that they are apples-to-apples comparisons (or as close as you can get) so you can track prospect-to-customer progress all along the line.

And, make sure that your sales process doesn’t end (as the above examples do at “A”). Figure out how to offer more products and more services, or encourage users to refer colleagues to also buy. In the above example, there might be an additional ebook (or three or four or more), a paid version of the newsletter, affiliate links, a private coaching program, and so on. In other words, create an ever-growing loop. Below is a new and improved flowscape built from the original but improved to include more traffic-driving elements to the website (B) and then a closed loop to create more revenue per customer (D>A>F>H>G>D).

aaronhoos_flowscape5

Notes

  1. Tools for Thought offers more detailed descriptions and explanations.
  2. Purists will probably note that I have slightly modified the Flowscape. DeBono asserts that one thing will always link to another. And while I think that is generally true in many Flowscape applications, I’d suggest that in the sales process, it should happen but doesn’t… and that’s the purpose of creating a Flowscape to begin with. Start with what you have and figure out how to make it all link together.

Recommended reading: Blue Ocean Strategy

One of my favorite books:

W. Chan Kim and Renee Maubergne provide readers with a powerful way to look at your business, your competitors, and the marketplace to identify opportunities for differentiation and innovation. Their strategy canvas is the best strategic tool of the book, in my opinion, although their 4 Actions Framework is also a useful version of a familiar innovation process.

Lots of business books spend too much time talking about theory and not enough time offering practical guidance. But Blue Ocean Strategy was very actionable. I ended up with a HUGE list of opportunities that I’m implementing.

[UPDATE FROM 37 MONTHS LATER: I can report that the actionable ideas I uncovered using Kim and Maubergne’s book played a significant role in my business’ success. In the past 3 years, I have seen a dramatic improvement in business positioning, client quality, revenue, and profit.]

Business Diamond Framework: A new way of looking at business

The Business Diamond Framework™ is a new way of looking at a business.

There are many different kinds of businesses but all of those businesses perform the same four functions to achieve their unique ends. Those four functions can be depicted like this:

bdf-w-words-full

Leadership” represents the vision-casting and management of decision-makers. “Value-Add” represents the input-side of the business’ supply chain, which might include information or raw materials. “To-Market” represents the output-side of the supply chain, which includes marketing, sales, distribution, and other steps to bring a completed product or service to market. And “Support” represents the critical but non-revenue-generating functions of the business, which usually includes payroll, reception, HR, and other departments.

Google trending the economy

Recently I posted a blog about how Google Trends “predicted” the recession. While I was there, I decided to see the search trend on the term “economy“. I wondered how it would compare. Here is Google’s trend chart:

aaronhoos_googletrends_economy

This chart fascinates me for a couple of reasons:

  • The current economic climate is not prompting people to search for the word “economy” any more than any other economic climate. I’d have guessed that it would be higher.
  • Not surprisingly, there is a valley through the third quarters when everyone is away on vacation and not thinking about work or business or the economy.
  • There are slight peaks at the end of every quarter, which makes sense that people are thinking about economic factors that might influence their EOQ results or forecasts.
  • What surprised me the most was the large dip at the end of the year. It’s as if people are so focused on Christmas and New Year and the opportunities for the year to come that they stop searching for “economy” information? While there is often a small spike at the end of every quarter, there is a huge dip at the end of the year; and in every case, that end-of-the-year dip is greater than the summer dip.