Why Sales Processes Fail to Work

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 @ 16:04 PM

Old Dog

A well-defined milestone-based Sales Process doesn’t work for most salespeople. Hearing this comment coming from a sales development expert probably sounds like heresy. However, if you peel back the onion I believe most of you will agree.

For example, here are two actual sales processes from companies I am familiar with. While they could be updated, they are thoughtful, clear and logical.


Example One
Step1: Cold call, or lead follow up call
Step2: Engage
Step3: Schedule meeting
Step4: Needs analysis, ID problem, opportunity or pain
Step5: Identify a need
Step6: Interested
Step7: Tour
Step8: Evaluate the opportunity
Step9: Determine fit
Step10: Who is decision maker
Step11: Timeline for decision
Step12: Ask about money or budget
Step13: Decision making process/criteria
Step14: Qualified
Step15: Present/demo
Step16: Sell value
Step17: Differentiate yourself
Step18: Value proposition
Step19: Proposal or Quote
Step20: Handle Objections
Step21: Negotiate
Step22: Close

Example Two
Step1: Cold call, or lead follow up call
Step2: Research lead
Step3: Evaluate the opportunity
Step4: Schedule meeting
Step5: Find compelling reason to buy from you
Step6: Quantify the problem
Step7: Value proposition
Step8: Talk about capabilities
Step9: Determine fit
Step10: Who is decision maker
Step11: Meet technical team
Step12: Meet decision maker
Step13: Ask about money or budget
Step14: Proposal or Quote
Step15: Handle Objections
Step16: Negotiate
Step17: Close
Step18: Sign contract

So, what is the problem? When I debrief salespeople and sales managers on opportunities and ask about the specific needs, compelling reasons, pain or quantification their answers are too often about what their prospects need to buy and not why they need to buy it.  For example, perhaps they need to change suppliers due to underperformance, buy something different because what they usually buy no suits their needs, or change what they are doing because it is no longer working.

Although most salespeople and their sales managers believe they sell consultatively, few actually do. Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated and assessed more than 1.7 million salespeople. Not even half of the top 10% of all salespeople are strong Consultative Sellers. Take this simple challenge: Define and/or have your salespeople define consultative selling. Here are some things you likely won’t hear.

• Helping prospects to identify and quantify the impact of problems they don’t know about
• Helping prospects to connect their personal risk with not changing the status quo
• Getting people to express their feelings about the problems they face

This brings us to the primary reason why Sales Process doesn’t work: It is because salespeople don’t follow the process. Unfortunately, most managers either underestimate this problem or don’t hold their salespeople accountable enough. Yes, many companies need to better define their process. Many need to build the process into CRM so people are forced to evaluate whether the strategy is correct and next steps have been executed. But, the truth is that most salespeople will not consistently execute a defined process unless they are held accountable for it. Let’s consider why.

Consider this list of self-limiting sales traits that many salespeople share.  They tend to be:

• Overly optimistic
• Too trusting
• Great at rationalizing
• Likely to interpret situations positively
• Following the path of least resistance
• Not detail oriented
• Have little patience

Is it reasonable to expect “self-motivated” people with these traits to hold themselves accountable for following a structured process, particularly when their prospects want to end the sales call as quickly as possible? This is a rhetorical question.

So, wha is a salesperson or sales manager to do? My advice is to slow down, get feedback from other people, ask yourself a lot more second and third level questions, assume you need to dig deeper, walk away more often and stop doing what you have always done.

Do you want to be more effective? Click on the image below.



Topics: customer engagement, sales and sales management tips, data on salespeople, managing patience, sales process

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