I was on the phone with a client who spent some time telling me about how he follows the sales process, prepares the questions he wants to ask, makes sure he remembers to thoroughly qualify, prepares and plans his presentations and considers all of the possible objections he may encounter along the way.
That's all well and good - but it's too complicated. It's much more like driving a car. Let me explain:
When you learned to drive a car, you had to think about safety, where your two hands were to be placed on the wheel, where your feet can find the accelerator and break pedals, when to use your directionals, how to use the rear and side mirrors, when to turn use your high beams, the rules of the road, and if it was standard transmission, how and when to shift and use the clutch. And that was before you actually drove anywhere!
Of course today, you don't give any of that a thought. You didn't forget it. You learned it, internalized it, embraced it, and finally mastered it. Mastery is the art of not having to think about what you are doing. Most drivers can listen to the radio, carry on a conversation and navigate to their destination without giving a single thought as to how to drive the car. Selling is the same.
At some point, salespeople are presented with the company's sales process, its stages, and the milestones of each stage. If they are receiving effective sales training, they will also be trained on the methodology or conversation required to seamlessly move from milestone to milestone, along with the strategies and tactics to ask questions, build a case and get people to buy from them. It's the same as when you learned how to drive and first sat in the driver's seat of your parents' car. You were required to take professional driving lessons, drove your parents around in between lessons, and eventually (most of you) mastered driving a car. Some people taking driving a bit further and go on to become professional drivers, including the best on the planet - NASCAR drivers.
Salespeople must go through the same process, including the professional instruction, practice and desire to be the best on the planet. Most salespeople skip the parts in between learning (initial training) and mastery (effective selling) - internalizing and embracing - the two things that must occur prior to mastery. The only way to get from learning to mastery is to practice! Role play! For more on role playing, see this article.