Which is more important for sales success:
1) A well developed and repeatable sales process
2) Effective techniques to use with prospects and customers, or
3) Relationships with prospects and customers

You hear this kind of question in group discussions and blog posts. Maybe you even had this conversation with managers and colleagues in your sales organization.

Sometimes, it is not posed as a question, but rather a declaration.

“Relationships are the key to sales”

“This technique can help you be the king of sales”

Or, in the negative – such as “sales process is bunk – if the customer doesn’t know about it then what does it matter”


So  – what do you think – which is the right answer?

Sorry, but like many “choose one” questions, the question missed the mark entirely.

There is a better way to think about these three critical elements of sales success. Try this on for size:

You should start with a process. If you do sales now, think about the steps you take to get from no customer to customer. If you are starting with a blank canvas and have no history – that’s fine. Imagine the process. If you pay attention as you execute, experience will show you how to improve it over time.

Once you have a process mapped out, you need to make sure you have the techniques to use along the way as you work through each step of the process.

And finally, process and techniques are no good in a vacuum – you will need to engage prospects and customers and see how your process and techniques resonate. As you engage and develop relationships, this will become evident (as opposed to executing with your eyes and ears closed – which will neither help build relationships or refine your process).

Graphically, it might look something like this


This cycle is iterative. When you engage prospects and customers, you will foster relationships while getting feedback that should inform your process and technique choices, and the wheel goes around and around.

The three parts feed each other, and using them all in an iterative way will keep you operating both systematically and effectively, and will help you improve consistently over time.

So which is best?

It’s a dumb question. It’s like asking which organ you prefer – your brain, your heart or your lungs? Do you really think your best strategy is to choose just one?

Good luck with that!

I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure that you need all three of these vital organs working and working together to keep you alive. Think of  process, techniques and relationships the same way if you want your sales efforts to thrive and grow.



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!