Our priest was sharing his frustration over parishioners who took shortcuts and left church early. At a parish he was assigned to earlier in his career, parishioners received the host and exited via the side door without returning to their seats for the remainder of the service. He wondered how many of them had simply developed a bad habit and challenged them by saying, "The next time you find yourself leaving early, ask yourself, 'why am I doing this?'" A lady approached him after the service and felt terrible about all of this. She said that she had been leaving early to tend to her sick husband. The Priest said that this didn't apply to her, she was already making a sacrifice by attending, and she should care for her husband. She paused and finally said, "but he passed away three years ago!"
This story got me wondering about the widespread misuse of the sales process. There are certain steps that must be executed at specific times to assure a successful outcome. However, undisciplined salespeople are often tempted to skip steps when prospects ask for prices, quotes, proposals, demos, references, and presentations much earlier than the process allows for. Once in a while these salespeople get lucky and get the business. And then they start skipping the steps they've been trained to follow because, after all, they are more comfortable and confident at presenting, proposing, quoting and demoing, than they are with listening, questioning, probing and identifying compelling reasons to buy. Like the lady with the sick husband, they take steps that aren't necessary or desirable, simply out of habit.
Sales Management's number one priority is to assure that their salespeople don't fall into old habits, take shortcuts, get lazy, or avoid steps in the sales process where they aren't as skilled or comfortable. Once your customized, optimized, integrated sales process is in place and introduced, my top 10 rules for all things sales process, strategy and tactics are:
- this isn't voluntary
- no exceptions
- live it and breath it
- hold them accountable to it
- coach to it daily
- reinforce it
- point out what happens when they skip steps
- show them what happens when they execute
- non compliance has consequences
- practice daily