Getting sales process right


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Whether or not you have put in place a sales process – it is happening everyday.  It is whatever your salespeople are doing Monday morning to navigate the customer’s buying process.

The real problem is not, therefore, a lack of sales process.  The problem is too many companies do not systematically manage and evaluate their sales process.

In today’ markets buyers are changing how they buy but sales organizations often fail to adjust and adapt their sales process to the new reality.  The end result over time is a misalignment between how buyers buy and how sellers sell.

In B2B sales you can do a whole lot of things right but if your sales process is misaligned with the buyer’s decision process all those good things are for not.

So this is worth getting right.  Let’s explore this “getting right” journey by examining two pitfalls that need to be avoided.

Lack of definitional clarity.  Sales process unfortunately is one of those concepts that means different things to different people.  Some will say if you put in place a new questioning model you have changed your sales process.  Others would say executing such a change is simply adopting a new questioning model.

Try it.  Ask around – a good bet is you will not just get different answers but entirely different types of answers.  The point is – to make something better everyone needs to have a clear and common vision of the topic at hand. It’s about being on the same page.

Our suggestion is restrict the term sales process to mean the overall set of steps you take from the beginning to the end of your sales cycle to win the business versus using the term interchangeably with concepts related to selling techniques, models, frameworks, and best practices.

Unbridled compliance.  It is not a good idea for a whole bunch of reasons to have every sales rep do their own thing – that is not a road to success.

On the other hand, in today’s disruptive buying environment it is equally true that unbridled compliance to a standard sales process can have its own pitfalls.

The greatest risk of unbridled compliance to any standardized process is that it only works when a sales rep is following a path that leads to success.  In the B2B market the problem is many companies are going through transformational changes.  These changes are impacting what they buy, how they buy, and what they are willing to pay for it.

So, a strategic caution: Are you doing a good job driving compliance to a sales process that is more about what and how your customers were buying five years ago versus what they are doing here and now?

On the sales process scale of “everyone does their own thing to blind compliance” we suggest being somewhere in the middle.  Introduce a well thought out sales process because it can contribute to replicating success and scaling the business.  But, beware of overdone rigor and excessive compliance.  The latter will tend to eliminate the innovation that will define what success looks like tomorrow.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Ruff
For more than 30 years Richard Ruff has worked with the Fortune 1000 to craft sales training programs that make a difference. Working with market leaders Dick has learned that today's great sales force significantly differs from yesterday. So, Sales Momentum offers firms effective sales training programs affordably priced. Dick is the co-author of Parlez-Vous Business, to help sales people have smart business conversations with customers, and the Sales Training Connection.


  1. Making sure you fit the buyer’s process is such a simple concept – yet often overlooked. In sales, it’s instinctive to try to move things along on your schedule, on your terms.

    Once you figure out how buyers buy, it begs the question – how do you get the buyer’s attention?

    I gave this considerable thought and came up with a innovative idea that worked better than anything I’ve ever seen. I wrote a children’s book depicting characters who represented my prospect’s customers, the pains my prospect was feeling and how my product was the solution.

    I animated the book and sent it along with a music player + headphones, with my voice narrating the story.

    The results were inspiring. My hit ratio went from 3% to 80%. I landed meetings with buyers I normally wouldn’t dream of contacting.

    I spelled the concept out on this website, I hope it helps others trying to grab a buyer’s attention (once they know how buyers buy).


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