71% of all companies using formal sales process do not also have a defined set of Job Aids.
On the face of it, this survey result seems preposterous. For the many companies who have invested time and money to build a sales process, especially a customized one, it would stand to reason that they would complete the effort and build a set of Job Aids to help operationalize the process. The facts are, ironically, most of them do not.
The impact of these missing Job Aids is substantial -- elongated sales cycles, lowered win rates, low margin transactions, unbundled deals, and increased customer attrition. In summary – a real mess.
The good news is there is something that can be done about it and done quickly, no matter what sort of sales process you have in play at the moment.
What is a sales process Job Aid?
Any sales process worth its salt has Job Aids. Job Aids are the tools, templates, presentations, sales collateral, and assessment guides used by sales reps and management to help close deals. The purpose of a Job Aid is to facilitate the prospect's/customer’s buying journey such that they reach a defined ‘exit criteria’ for a given phase in the sales process. Each exit criteria indicates a buyer has progressed in their decision-making process towards a purchase.
This article called “Why a Sales Process” by Krita Moore lists Job Aids by phase, showing the important concept that a Job Aid has to be deployed at a certain point in a sales campaign.
This focus on enabling the buyer’s psychology is a key facet of a good Job Aid. Job Aid designers often use Blooms’ taxonomy - to ensure they accurately match a Job Aid to the right point in buyer’s evolution, from Awareness to Consideration to Preference to Intent.
The whole concept of Job Aids was first popularized by Keith Eads in his book ‘The New Solution Selling’. In his book, Eads emphasizes that sellers need the “right tool [i.e. Job Aid], applied in the right way, at the right time”. This captures the essence of how a good sales process should deploy its Job Aids – identify the tools, templates, and helpmeets that the sales team can use consistently to advance a sale.
Types of Job Aids
There are internal Job Aids (those use typically between a sales rep and their manager or by the whole sales team). Internal Job Aids never make it to the customer or prospect. An example of this is a Call Plan.
There are also external Job Aids which are viewed by the customer/prospect. These often reflect input from the Marketing department, who ensures that look & feel, content, and messaging all represent the company/solution in the most compelling fashion. An example of an external Job Aid is a Sponsor Letter.
What to do Next?
If you are a sales professional using a sales process without a complete set of tailored Job Aids, the question is, “what should I do about it?” Here is a quick Get Well Plan to consider:
1. Identify all the current ‘official’ Job Aids in use (if any)
2. Conduct an inventory of all informal Job Aids being used by the more successful sales executives in the company
3. Determine what phases in the sales cycle are the ones where most of the deals are getting stuck