Today I worked with a group of salespeople from different companies and when I asked how many of them followed a formal sales process only 2 people raised their hands. That’s even worse than Objective Management Group’s statistics about sales process. The statistics show that 91% of the more than 500,000 salespeople assessed to date did not have/follow a structured sales process. And the two who did raise their hand? They claimed that their process was 20 steps! Who can remember that?
A bigger issue is that most people don’t understand the difference between sales process and sales methodology.
A customized, optimized, formal sales process includes the sequence of steps, to-do’s, milestones and goals that must be achieved during a sales cycle.
A sales methodology is the approach one takes to execute those steps.
For instance, using a few well-known companies and brands:
- Huthwaithe’s SPIN Selling is a methodology.
- Miller-Heiman’s Strategic Selling is a methodology.
- Kurlan’s Baseline Selling has both a process and a methodology.
- Sandler Training is a methodology.
Another way of looking at this is to use construction or engineering where the blueprint represents the strategy. The particular steps that each engineer or contractor follows to execute their part of that blueprint is their process. And I promise, the process is not a seat of the pants, wing it, trial and error approach. “Hey, let’s skip the forms on this foundation and pour the concrete without them – it might be faster that way!” Or, “Let’s skip the moldings because these people are in a hurry and they might not notice. Let’s just plaster to the edge of the windows and doors!”
Then each of those contractors has a methodology or approach, the way electricians run and install wiring and connect them to the power source, outlets and switches; the way plumbers cut, solder and install piping; the way back-hoe operators excavate and finish the property, the way the plasterers prepare and plaster the walls and ceilings. In each of those cases, they have a proven method to get the job completed correctly each time.
So here are some questions for you to answer about your sales force as it relates to process:
- Is there a sales process?
- Has it been customized?
- Has it been formalized and structured?
- Has it been optimized?
- Is it legacy?
- Does everyone follow it?
- Does everyone speak the language of your process?
- Is it referenced as a context for coaching sessions?
- Can your salespeople identify where they are by simply naming a step?
- Is it integrated into your CRM software?
- Is it integrated with your pipeline?
- Is the pipeline routinely reviewed and restaged according to the criteria for each step of the process?
If you can’t answer yes to all of those questions, you aren’t yet in a position to shorten your sales cycle, improve the effectiveness of your coaching and accelerate your revenue growth.