Sales and Sales Management Blog

June 11, 2012

Three Principles by Which to Judge Your Sales Process

Filed under: sales,Sales Process,selling,success — Paul McCord @ 12:38 pm
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Whether you are an individual seller or the leader of a sales team, when was the last time you examined your sales process?  I don’t mean the last time you glanced at it.  Rather, when was the last time you took a long, critical look at it and all of its various parts?

For most of us, it is critical that we have a defined, workable, effective sales process.

And for a great many of us our process has morphed into something that is far more complex and intricate that it need be—and when our process gets out of hand, we begin losing sales because we burden ourselves with needless activity and more importantly, we burden our prospects with needless, time wasting activity.

I encourage you to take some time over the next few days and examine your process in detail.  And when you do, ask yourself lots of questions such as:

  • How many steps does your process have? 
  • How complex is it?
  •  How difficult is it to learn? 
  • How difficult is it to implement? 
  • Who is required to do the majority of work?  You?  Your Prospect?  Someone else?
  • How difficult is it for your prospects to follow?  Do they really know what to expect next?  Is it a process they are likely familiar and comfortable with?
  • How time consuming is it for you?
  •  How time consuming is it for your prospect?
  • Is the process flexible enough that you can adjust on the fly or is the flexibility limited or even nonexistent?
  • Is it a process that is common in your industry?
  • How does your process compare to the process used by your most successful competitors?
  • Where is the fat in your process that can be cut out?  If you had to sharpen your process, where would be the most logical place to start?
  • Where in your process do you seem to experience the most fallout by prospects?  What happens—or doesn’t happen—at this point that encourages fallout?
  • How would you rate the effectiveness of your process in achieving your major sales goals?  If less than excellent, why?
  • Are there other simpler, more effective strategies that can replace some of the steps in your process?

Three Principles by Which to Judge Your Process:

Simplicity:  Ockham ’s razor states that most often the simplest solution is the correct one.  The more you can simplify your process, the more success you’ll likely have.  Both seller and prospect will generally profit from a simple, straightforward, to the point solution as opposed to the often seen complexity for complexity sake process that seeks to impress and overwhelm with conceits designed to cover up weakness and confound with bluster.

Simple, by the way, does not necessarily equate to easy.  The application of Ockham’s razor does not mean that you give up any and all complexity if it is truly needed.  It simply means that you don’t make the process more complex or involved than needed (an axiom that should also be applied to every “specialized” business word ever created—often for the single reason of trying to make the simple sound complex and expensive).

Effectiveness:  Is your process producing the desired results?  If not, why not?  If your process isn’t producing the results you want and expect, then why aren’t you changing it?  The old adage that crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a truism that is actually true. 

If you’re not experiencing the results you want then your process must bear at least some of the blame.  It is true that it’s not just what you do but also how you do it.  But what you do is critical to your success and if you’re not achieving that success you must change, at least to some extent, what you are doing.

Not surprisingly, very often simplicity and effectiveness go hand ‘n hand. 

Efficiency:  The more efficient your process, the easier for both you and your prospect.  Any wasted steps contribute to a lack of simplicity and an erosion of effectiveness.

The more bloated your process, the more likely you’ll lose good solid prospects along the way.  Just as Ockham insisted on getting rid of needless complexity, you need to get rid of needless work for both you and your prospect. 

Ultimately we’re looking for the process that produces the best return on the investment of time, money and energy while maintaining the highest levels of integrity and ethics.  My experience has been that that goal tends to be most often embodied in the process that has been distilled down to its essence; that is, the one that is the simplest—purest—possible.

Can you honestly say that your process is the simplest, most effective, and efficient possible?  If not, I’d encourage you take a hard look at applying the three principles above to see how you need to change it to make it the best process possible.

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