At Criteria for Success, we talk about the sales process all the time. This probably isn’t a surprise since it’s a huge part of what we do and how we help our clients achieve greatness in selling.
But what might surprise you is that even we make mistakes when it comes to using our sales processes! Now, I can only speak for myself, but I’ve discovered just how easy it can be to move forward with my daily activities and forget about the sales process that was created to help me.
The Sales Process Exists for a Reason
When a sales process is created, it exists to support the needs of everyone involved in a selling transaction. The sales process is designed to help salespeople close more deals – quicker, smarter, and more effectively.
But sometimes, sellers go through the selling motions and forget about the sales process. And sometimes, get by unscathed. In other words, salespeople catch a lucky break and move deals forward without following the sales process.
The problem, however, is when this “freedom” becomes a new habit. Days pass, weeks go by, and suddenly, things aren’t going so smoothly anymore. Conversations fall off, prospect relationships suffer, and deals slow to a halt.
This is why the sales process is so important. It’s also why jumping back on board is the best next move.
What Happened When I Failed to Use the Sales Process
A few months ago, I was swarming with “exploratory” first meetings (mostly phone calls to start).
I did my best to follow the sales process and prepare for each call, but I remember one meeting in particular where that just didn’t happen. I fell off the sales process wagon.
You’ve likely been here yourself. I started the conversation with my prospect and within the first 5 minutes, realized he had complete control over the direction of the conversation. I had lost my power and was now in reactive mode versus fact finding and active mode. Sure, I could still listen and take diligent notes, but I was not leading the conversation and therefore, felt disorganized and not well prepared.
All experienced salespeople know that listening is crucial to success, so you may be reading this thinking, “what’s the big deal here? At least the prospect was talking!” But here’s the catch: at the end of our allotted time, the prospect still didn’t have a clear understanding of how we could help him solve his problems, which meant getting that next meeting was not going to be easy. #salesrepfail!
After speaking with my manager about the meeting and debriefing on my missteps, I quickly realized that I had forgotten to follow the sales process. That was my wakeup call: the sales process exists for a reason!
I had forgotten to follow the basics and use the sales process to determine where the prospect’s needs were. For example:
- Prospecting: How well is prospecting working for their team?
- Selling: How effective are they at closing business?
- Support: From a leadership perspective, how well is the rest of the organization supporting the sales team? (I.e. marketing, operations, product, management)
- System: How well is the CRM being adopted?
- Team: Do they have a sharing culture? How well does the team get along and share best practices and success stories?
Does your organization have a sales process that is followed on a regular basis? If your team is forgetting to use it, it can’t hurt to review it with the team. It’s never too late to get back on track!