This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 3 – Doing the Right Things: What are the Right Things?

The first two chapters focused on the important attributes and skills which indicate a high likelihood of sales success in an individual.

Knowing and understanding these traits and skills can be very useful when interviewing salespeople. Several questions were included in each section to help you flesh out these characteristics in the salespeople you are considering hiring.

But what about the salespeople that are already working for you? What is the best way to make sure that they will reach their revenue targets? Is there an effective methodology to help ensure success in reaching revenue targets beyond setting them and waiting to see what happens?

The good news is that there is such a methodology. Executing it from the management side of the sales organization can be very easy when you have a well-developed sales process, as described in detail in my book Mastering Your Sales Process and in shorter form here.

When your sales process fits your business well and has metrics built into the process, and there is a capable, frontline sales manager designated to manage the salespeople working through the process, the process serves as a perfect vehicle for demonstrating the characteristics and skills outlined earlier in Part 1. It also offers the right structure for a sales pipeline that can be managed and the right checkpoints to allow sales managers to do what it is they should be doing. More on that in the next chapter.

This chapter will expand on the sales process and illustrate how it can be adapted to unique selling environments and developed in such a way that it is beneficial for salespeople and sales management alike.

WHAT ARE THE RIGHT THINGS?
At the most basic level, salespeople should only work on two things:

Qualifying and closing.

A salesperson who works effectively on those two things alone will be successful.

Period.

In execution, however, it is not really just two things because there is a lot rolled up into each of those two things.

In order to qualify, you need to be engaged in a sales conversation with someone.

In order to be engaged in a sales conversation with someone, you need to contact them and get them to agree to have that conversation with you. Let’s call this “Prospecting.”

In order to prospect, you need to have someone to direct your prospecting efforts towards. Let’s call this “Generating leads.”

Taken sequentially, these steps look like this:

1 – Generating leads
2 – Prospecting to set up a sales conversation
3 – Qualifying

Once a prospect has been qualified, everything should lead to a close. What is rolled up into that?

You can’t close until you have addressed the concerns of your prospect. Let’s call this “Objections and negotiations.”

You can’t close until you make some kind of an offer. Let’s call this “Proposing a solution.”

You can ─ but shouldn’t ─ propose a solution until you fully understand the problem that the customer needs to solve using your product or service and a manner from which a positive decision will be made to do so. Let’s call this “Needs analysis.”

Let’s add these to our sequence:

4 – Needs analysis
5 – Proposing a solution
6 – Objections and negotiations
7 – Closing the deal

And look at that: We have a sales process! This is the same seven-step sales process detailed in Mastering Your Sales Process. For a deeper analysis and a hands-on guide to building a personalized sales process for an individual salesperson or a sales organization, I humbly suggest my own work here.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David