Sales process – it must mirror the customer’s buying process


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In the last ten years a substantial amount of time, effort, and money has been devoted to discussing the sales process.  Listen to a conversation about tye sales process it usually begins by someone saying something like:

  • “We have very aggressive sales targets and we’re just not getting there.”
  • “We’re not leveraging our own best practices – a lot of our sales reps are simply doing what they did the last time.”
  • “Our customers’ buying process has undergone dramatic changes but we’re still selling like we always did.”

Whether or not you have consciously addressed the topic of putting in place or modifying your sales process – it is happening everyday.  It is whatever your salespeople are doing on a given day to navigate the customer’s buying process.

If you want to put in place a more effective sales process, avoid these two pitfalls.

Lack of definitional clarity.  Sales process is one of those sales concepts that unfortunately means something different for each person with whom you talk. Some would say if you put in place a new questioning model you have changed your sales process. Others would say that is simply adopting a new questioning model. Try it.  Ask someone what their sales process is and a good bet is you will get not just different answers but entirely different types of answers.

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 best suggestion is to restrict the term sales process to mean the overall set of steps you take from beginning and 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 everyone do their own thing – that is not the road to success in today’s market.  That’s an easy one.

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 is that rigorously following any standardized process only works when one is absolutely clear that you are 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 is in order: Are you doing a good job driving compliance to a sales process that is more about what and how customers were buying five years ago versus what they are doing here and now?

Summary.  On the sales process scale of “everyone does their own thing to blind compliance” we uggest 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 innovation and discourage the positive deviants among you from exploring the ideas that will define what success looks like tomorrow.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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


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