Developing the Sales Process

Written on: July 24, 2013 by David_Fein

Author David Fein

The Most Important Process a Company can Develop is the Sales Process
Most people don’t like salesmen. They view them as people that will trick them into doing things that they don’t want to do, make them spend money they don’t want to spend, and cause them to feel uncomfortable. The truth is,  I don’t like salemen either. You might find this strange coming from the VP of sales and marketing of one of the largest energy companies in the Hudson Valley. However, I have built my 29-year career around being fully aware of our prospects’ perception of the salesman. Knowing this has been the key to my success in selling, training, and managing in this complicated marketplace.
The most important and critical process that a company can develop and implement is their sales process. How are your presentations designed? What sales model do you subscribe to, if any? How are your salespeople trained and reviewed? What KPI’s (key performance indicators) do you use to measure success or failure of your sales? What CRM (if you don’t know what this acronym means, this is a problem*) are you using? Are you turning your CRM into an ATM?  Without any of “this,” a company is squandering opportunities, wasting marketing money, and setting their sales force and company up for failure. You see, you can hire the best technicians, set up the most productive delivery processes, develop top notch customer service, but if you don’t have the customers and new sales….nothing happens. It all starts with the sale!
I am a firm believer in keeping things simple. I have taken the best of the best over my career helping to build a strong and effective sales process.  My process revolves around building relationships, discovering the needs of the homeowner, and fulfilling those needs through the products and services that we provide. Sounds easy, right? It is! However, many salespeople fall into the trap of cutting corners and eliminating the most important part of the process, and the results are lost sales and revenue.
Why does this happen?
Have you have played a sport or game with a less-worthy opponent? You know what I mean, someone who doesn’t have close to the skill-set that you have. You almost always beat them hands down. No big challenge…right? You always win. However, what results is that you become a weaker player and start to take shortcuts. Maybe you don’t need that topspin to win and soon forget how to use it. Well, this happens all the time in the sales game, promoting a false sense of security.
Here’s what I mean. A  salesperson receives a call from a prospect who basically has no objections and is ready to sign. They close the sale and “win.” Great! A few of these, and they forget how to use their topspin or correct sales process. Here’s the real danger—they receive a call from a prospect with real objections (a worthy opponent). If they don’t use the process and proper technique, they will lose, costing lost revenue. It happens all the time!
What’s the fix?
Establish a proven sales process and train your representatives.  Educate them on the effectiveness and get their buy-in. The best way to get buy-in is by gaining and sharing the results. Wow, this “stuff” really works! I have heard this many times during training sessions. Most importantly, once the process is taught and practiced, it is critical that the methods and techniques are sustained through monitoring and and consistent coaching.
Preferred Sales Model
It is important that your company subscribe to and follow one sales model. I consider myself a career student in the study of sales and marketing. I am constantly filtering out what “works” and what methods are least effective. Being consistent with your sales force and sticking to one message helps to avoid bad and ineffective techniques. Too often, salespeople are given creative licensing or free reign on what sales method to use. As a result, they almost always default to old habits, which aren’t always the best for the customer and/or company. Adhering to a strong sales model will increase sales and empower the salespeople.
Non-Selling Posture
I said at the beginning of this column that I don’t like salepeople. To be more clear, I don’t like uncaring salespeople that are only out for themselves, a stereotype we sales folks work hard to overcome. The value of a true salesperson is not judged by what they know about their products and services, but by what they can learn about their customer’s problems, and their ability to create solutions designed to resolve them. This will earn the prospect’s respect and build trust. I accomplish this through an approach known as the “non-selling posture.” (I adopted this from the Seven Deadly Sins of Highly Ineffective Salespeople.)
It means giving up the control. Allow the customer to be in control and let them tell you what they need and want from you. You simply are fullfilling their needs.
One of my favorite business philosophers, the late Jim Rohn, said, “In order for things to change…you have to change.” So, if you aren’t happy with your current sales process or level of training, then change what you are doing. It is just that simple. Remember that the success of most organizations is ultimately determined by the skills of their sales team. Take the time to review, give support, celebrate, and invest in your sales team. You will be happy you did.

*Our magazine’s own CRM would naturally compel us to define this acronym, which stands for Customer Relationship Management—to keep our readers happy, of course. Ed.