Does everyone in your sales organization work off of the same sales process? Is that sales process built to match the way your customer naturally buys?

You may have a defined sales process, but that’s different than ensuring consistent execution across the team. If you have different reps using different paths, that inconsistency is likely reflected in your CRM system and sales pipeline, which means what you’re seeing isn’t accurately reflecting the current or future sales reality.

But if the sales process isn’t defined, or hasn’t been updated in awhile, your reps are flying blind. They’re making up their own path, based on what they think is right or what they think you want or what will make them look good. And if this is the case, you have more problems than just an inaccurate sales forecast.

I’m excited by how many sales organizations I hear are going to expand in 2011. That’s hopefully a sign of optimism that their target markets are more broadly ready to buy. But that expectation should also come with a common understanding of the best way for your organization to sell – messages, tools, channels, process. If you’re going to scale the team and expect commensurate results, that process must be defined, understood and operationalized across everything you do.

And that includes marketing, too. Marketing must understand the sales process just as well as your reps. They should be building and providing tools at each stage of the process to accelerate interest, urgency and purchase velocity. They should know what it takes to get prospects from one sales stage to the next, and ideally have their own success criteria & objectives tied to that same process.

As you enter the new year, take on new sales goals, and/or look to expand your team, make sure the fundamentals are in place. That starts with a fresh understanding of your customer and a consistent, accurate sales process that makes it faster and easier to scale and succeed.