Most companies design and execute sales process backwards. The problem is exacerbated by salespeople’s usage and adherence to process. Only 49% of salespeople in the 51st - 83rd percentile are strong in the Sales Process competency. Most of the A and B players are found in this group.
Having evaluated hundreds of company sales processes, one of the common big gaps is the lack of a key milestone for common fit. That milestone should focus on what must happen in order for the company to do business with the prospect and what needs to occur for the prospect to want to do business with them.
In a recent client conversation about customizing their sales process I asked them to enter data for an in-process opportunity where the executives were on the call with the salesperson.
Before I summarize what they learned from this a little context is necessary. The opportunity was an introduction from someone the salesperson had done significant business with. The ultimate decision maker was the VP of HR. The company president, the salesperson, my client and the person who made the introduction were all in the meeting.
Here is the summary of lessons:
• The expectations for the meeting did not include potential outcomes;
• The President opened up about issues and challenges;
• They had apparent frustration;
• They failed to quantify the impact and frequency of the problems;
• The referrer shared openly;
• Little attention was paid to the real impact of the issues discussed;
• A relationship was created but only on a vendor level;
• They failed to discuss any compelling reasons to move forward;
• They did not discuss whether there was a commitment to solve the problems they uncovered;
• It was agreed the referrer would introduce my client to HR.
During post meeting follow-up, the referrer backed away from being an advocate because HR either does not think there is a reason talk or had limited information over what transpired.
The value from this exercise is not what the next step strategy should be, although defining this is critical and much easier having gone through the process. The value is in identifying what might have happened if the correct sales process was executed.
While the ultimate outcome can’t be predicted, following the right process could have resulting in the following:
• An agreement in advance that if there was a productive discussion either the President would introduce my client to the VP of HR or a meeting with them would be scheduled;
• By discussing the impact of the issues discussed the President could have built a case for about why they needed to make a change.
• If the President supported looking at new options, the referrer would have felt less exposed expressing their opinion post meeting;
• By having the President arrange the meeting with HR, the likelihood of HR feeling threatened could have been discussed in advance with the President and challenges dealt with in advance;
• A deeper and wider discussion with the President could have created a higher value relationship.
You are probably thinking, "I do this!" and I’m sure that sometimes you do. The question is, how frequently, how thoroughly, and most importantly, does your defined sales process force you into these kinds of conversations when you debrief yourself and your salespeople?
If you want to learn more about the most effective way to debrief and coach your salespeople, attend our best in class Sales leadership Intensive. This two-day program will help you improve your sales process, make you a better coach and help you build a team of higher performing salespeople. More information can be found here.