If you follow my blog you know that I am firmly in the camp that see and approaches sales more as a science executed artfully, rather than free form art like many do. As with most things, success is rarely found in absolutes, it is usually about a norm derived from trial and error, and experiencing success and failure first hand.
Many managers and organizations are reluctant to let people explore, and experience a range of sales situations and outcomes, as a means of helping sell better. I get it, time is valuable, “if we already have a corpus, the experience and best practices, let’s just build it into a process, and have people walk the line”. They then proceed to build a rigid, and usually dated process, that everyone has to adhered to until the next Party Congress in a few years.
But a process needs to be dynamic, reflecting, anticipating the market, not reflecting where it was five years ago. The most important thing to remember about your sales process, is that it is the other side of the coin of the prospect’s buying process. In the spirit of “follow the money”, let’s not forget that the most crucial element of your sales process is the buyer, without them, who needs a process. So in light of the fact that the money flows from the buyer, our sales process has to reflect, and facilitate their process, if we are going to benefit from it.
Given the fact that buyers, unlike sellers, do not set out to execute a process, but rather to achieve some business objective and impact, the buyer’s side of the coin continues to evolve and ignore our “sales process rules”. If we do not evolve our process, we can look to it to get in our way. This would suggest two things that usually don’t happen in the real world. One that process should be a bottom up exercise, not the top down approach you find in most organizations. If the senior leadership, or sales ops people are the only ones updating and shaping the process, it will always be out of step with the market, and limit front-line rep’s options.
The other is empirical objective inputs. Reps are notorious for not knowing why they win or why they lose. When they win it was their great skills, smile, and relationships. When they lose it is always product and price. But for your process to serve your needs it needs to reflect market realities, not rationalization or other things that lack facts and accountability.
A proper evolving sales process, continues to reflect market factors, and should be implemented as a channel within which reps can execute by leveraging the process and adding their skills and abilities. It should not be, as it often is in a tech driven sales environment, a means for people to validate metrics they are hoping will work, and then change the metric when it does not.
Success in sales is all about execution, so get out of your own way by implementing a process that helps execution, not one that rationalizes the results.