http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-business-success-concept-image19444100Over the last two decades, I have talked to an awful lot of salespeople about their sales process. Many start by telling me they don’t have one and don’t need one for a variety of reasons.

Rather than resisting the idea of process, for whatever reasons, there is a much more useful perspective to take on sales process. One that can help salespeople improve their results – a goal that leads so many to read books like the ones I wrote, read blogs like this one you are reading, and hire sales trainers and consultants.

So what is this useful perspective?

Simply that a process is just a series of steps from one situation to another.

In this way, every salesperson follows a process between the time that they first engage a prospect or existing customer about a potential new piece of business until the time that they close the deal or decide to stop trying to reach that goal.

So if salespeople are already following a process – the series of steps – and the goal is improved effectiveness and results – then some logical questions include:

– Is it the best process
– It is consistent
– Is there a way to optimize getting through each transaction by optimizing the process
– Is there a way to optimize all transactions by optimizing this process?

So that all sounds good, but how can we best understand this universal sales process that all salespeople are already following. Let me illustrate it by using common sales process words and the functional way of thinking about them, which will show how it applies to all sales.

Every sales transaction follows this pattern at the macro level:

  • Figure out who you can contact about trying to make a sale (Lead generation)
  • Engage them in some kind of a sales conversation (Prospecting)
  • Before getting too far along, determine that all parties have confidence in the other to fulfill their role in the potential sales transaction (Qualification)
  • Go through a discovery process to establish the situation of the prospect that may be improved by products and/or services of the vendor (Needs Analysis)
  • Based on the Needs Analysis, the vendor suggests a solution (Proposal)
  • Address any questions, comments or concerns about the proposal (Objections and Negotiations)
  • Attempt to reach agreement about moving forward with the Proposal as modified through post proposal discussions (Closing)

By recognizing that these steps apply to each sale, and by recognizing that you can work to optimize each defined step, how the steps fit together, and how the steps can leverage each other, then you can be more proactive and less random about how you improve your sales effectiveness and results.

For more insight into this idea, I have also made this blog into a video which you can see by following this link. I have also written about this extensively in my blogs and books.

If I may make a suggestion: don’t resist the idea of sales process because of what you believe it might be, assume it is, or have been exposed to in the past. Rather, embrace the idea that a process is just a series of steps, and if you take the time and make the effort to examine the steps you take in getting a sales, you can make yourself better at doing so. I call this a sales process. You can call it whatever you like, but work at it, and watch yourself excel!

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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