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: Is it the right sales process (Buy In)

Buy in
The introduction of a “new” sales process and/or a new CRM is rarely greeted with joy. If they are imposed on salespeople, they will be resisted. They often are seen as nothing more than tools for management to measure and evaluate sales performance. Accordingly, salespeople see them as a burden, not an asset. The processes and systems become perceived as things the salespeople need to do in addition to their normal sales work.

Before we dig into that, for the sake of clarity let’s define a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system in the broadest possible terms. It is immaterial whether a specific CRM is a piece of software on a computer, on a network, or in the cloud, or a less virtual system that involves a paper planner, sticky notes, or a white board. For this discussion, whatever a salesperson uses to track customer contacts and relationships is a CRM.

Regardless of the system details, salespeople are famous for finding all kinds of excuses to avoid the sales process or the CRM. The most typical is some form of “listen ─ do you want me to pursue sales or to do administrative work? I don’t have time for both, so please choose.” It is as ugly a conversation as it is common. Very common.

Truth be told, I tend to come down on the side of the salesperson here. If the sales process and the CRM don’t help salespeople sell better, then why should they bother with them? If the sales process and the CRM and not used with a 90%+ level of consistency, they are worthless as management tools. The value of a report or a metric diminishes greatly with the degree to which it captures the totality of a situation. This is not a sampling exercise.

So what is the solution? Design the sales process and the CRM to fit the actual sales work that salespeople are doing, and develop them in earnest ─ and in conjunction with ─ the entire sales team as something that helps the sales people do their jobs better.

It is important not just to pick the top sales performers for this development work. Their processes might be different than new salespeople. Your top revenue producers might spend more time in account and relationship management, while your newer salespeople are spending more time on opening new accounts. Those in the middle are servicing existing accounts while scratching out time to look for new accounts. All of these legitimate sales styles and perspectives need to be represented in the sales process development.

In developing our sales process, the starting point was a general framework that is universal. When this is applied to a specific sales organization, it needs to be customized at each level where it is different within the sales organization while keeping as many parts as consistent as possible.

This customization should be done with the participation or at least representation of the entire sales team. In this way, the finalized sales process is seen as a product of the sales team rather than something imposed onto them.

This will help ensure that team members buy into the process rather than groan as you present it to them in a finished PowerPoint.

When you have reached a sufficient level of buy-in, you can see how your CRM system supports the process for the salespeople while simultaneously giving management the data needed to manage the sales people, the pipeline, and the organization as a whole.

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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