Four In Five Need Process

I don’t land at Selling Power often these days. Not since it went, well, a bit too ‘American’. I don’t mean the good bits of Americanism of course. The can-do-ness, the innovation, the praise where it’s due and, to quote Stewart Lee, the prawns five times the size of ours. I mean the bad bits. After all, why indeed not simply eat five prawns for each one of theirs? Who needs all that self-help mumbo jumbo, vacuous self-promotion, lunatic fad elixirs, wafer-thin depth, insularity or using a hundred more words than necessary?

During the first six months of 2011 I’ve read only one blog post that really showed understanding. I’ll blog about this in my next post. For now, here’s only the first paragraph of this other post of theirs worth reading. Here’s its tail;

…so many companies out there are not selling the way the customer wants to buy.
They lack a formal process, and instead their salespeople are making it up as they go.
That leads to inconsistencies and inefficiencies.
Here is the sad part: companies that consciously fail to pay attention to their sales process are unconsciously preparing for the failure of their business.

What finding preceded this undoubted wisdom?

An IT Consulting-Managed Service Provider asked an audience of around 450 “sales leaders” how many had a formal sales process. Only 20% did.

What a damning admission.

I whole-heartedly agree that without a proper sales process disaster is inevitable. I often begin discussions on how to determine the optimum ‘process’ by deducing what happens on every successful campaign. If you can nail the occurrences that won bids share and aim to replicate them, then you’ve a decent (albeit not comprehensive) starting point.

What’s interesting within the above author’s comments is the assertion that a sales process should have at its core how the customer wants to buy.

Here’s a hunch. If the same speaker had asked of his audience how many followed a formulised buying process for the last big item they helped buy, then how many would have raised their hands then?

Bear in mind that the assembled throng were labelled ‘sales leaders’. As such they would be of a level to have participated in a significant purchase within their own sales force, whether it be for technology, training or any other type of C-suite project.

I suspect there’d be even less hands shown.

This surely means that if a customer doesn’t standardise how they buy, then how on earth can you align to an invisible mark?

You sell your wares every day. Your prospect buys them probably only once in a blue moon. It’s up to you to advise on ideal ways in which to evaluate. In my experience, most buyers (and I’m not referring to anyone that has the word ‘procurement’ on their business card of course) appreciate any guidance on these dark arts.

Even better, once you propose a framework, you can work in tandem to mould it to their specific needs. It becomes a shared process. And that makes you almost unbeatable.

Subscribe to Salespodder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.