DBottlenecks in any part of a business can cause significant problems. Bottlenecks can increase costs, reduce revenue and also reduce competitiveness and innovation.
Process bottlenecks can increase costs and can make for a level of unpredictability that makes it difficult to operate at a peak performance level. When bottlenecks exist, it takes you out of the driver’s seat. You lose control, and there’s not a sense of predictability in your business.
A bottleneck is, in simplest terms, what happens when there is an interruption in the flow of any process, and it can and does occur in the sales process.
The following are some things to know about bottlenecks and how you can identify them and deal with them, specifically in terms of your sales process.
It’s important for businesses to have the right tools and technology to accurately identify bottlenecks in the sales process. Many businesses rely on sales analytics for HubSpot CRM, but this isn’t necessarily the best option.
For example, HubSpot can show sales managers and entrepreneurs where deals exist currently in stages of the sales pipeline, but this isn’t enough to really identify bottlenecks.
Some of the most important metrics to identify sales bottlenecks include stage duration and stage-to-stage conversion rates. Being able to see these metrics is why HubSpot CRM might not offer the best analytics features.
Once a sales manager or entrepreneur has the information from stage duration and stage-to-stage conversion rates, it’s much easier to go deeper and see what’s causing issues that lead to bottlenecks.
When using the data mentioned above, you can not just pinpoint what stages bottlenecks are occurring, but also see where individual sales reps might not be following the optimal sales process. This can show which reps could need more coaching.
For example, maybe you can compare individual sales reps and see what happens when a rep skips certain stages, and how this affects whether or not those deals go to the closing phase and if so, how long it takes to get there.
Based on that information, you can create better coaching for your reps that’s individualized within the framework of bottlenecks specifically.
Beyond being able to coach reps individually, when you’re identifying sales bottlenecks you’re also going to be working on creating solutions to the larger problems you see. The following are some possible solutions to the most common sales bottlenecks:
One of the bottlenecks that tend to occur earliest on is with leads. Even when someone has an interest in your product or service, that doesn’t mean they’re at the point where they are ready to buy. However, this can lead salespeople to move on past them, rather than trying to nurture the lead. It’s important to work on honing and refining a sales process that is equipped to deal with all leads even if they’re not at a point where they’re ready to buy.
Your bottlenecks may exist because your sales team is focusing so much on employees that aren’t the decision-makers, and yet they’re not putting in the same level of effort with the people who actually will be deciding whether or not to buy. It’s important that you include the people with authority to decide in your formalized sales process.
Closing: Bottlenecks happening at the point of close tend to be very common. Many times the sales process might be going great, and then suddenly it all comes to an end right before closing. This may indicate you should analyze and refine your follow-up process.
Bottlenecks from a growing sales team
Finally, if you’re in a period of growth, a bottleneck that’s worth mentioning on its own is the sales team that’s also growing. When a sales team is expanding, and particularly if it was previously maybe a team of one person (probably the owner or founder), there can be growing pains when it’s time to expand beyond that.
It may be time to make difficult decisions if people have been hired for the sales team hastily and now bottlenecks are indicating they might not be the right fit. Also, it’s important to think about the structure of the team. Is there a sales manager? If not, who could be a good fit?
What is everyone’s role on the sales team, and what kind of mix of people do you currently have versus what you need to eliminate major bottlenecks? How is your team working together? Is it efficient, or is there room for improvement in either the team itself or how it’s structured?