Paul Sylvestre's Business Strategy and Marketing Blog

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sales Process, Where Art Thou?

I've interviewed many Sales Reps over the years (both formally and informally) on sales process and more often than not, they describe theirs as unique and very different from their organization's. The problem is, not every rep's sales methodology is a best practice. Typically, only a few in the organization have best practices worth emulating. But unfortunately, these practices are not captured by Management and used to train and manage others in order to increase sales force performance as a whole.

The fault lies on two fronts. One is with the Sales Rep. It can stem from an inability or lack of desire to critically assess their sales methodology in detail. Like anything these reps continue to use what has worked for them in the past...sometimes way in the past. And as you know, in the technology field we're lucky if the business environment is stable from quarter to quarter. The other fault lies with sales management. Front line sales managers were in many cases successful Sales Reps who were promoted into management. These individuals have been given very little process or managment training and most often focus themselves on putting out fires, not thinking ahead.

The requirement for a best practice sales methodology, which is tested and improved on a regular basis, cannot be understated. Without it, a sales manager cannot coach to improve their Reps' performance; there is no process to manage to. Yet time and time again, I see managers who do not , for whatever reason, go out in the field with their Reps, and coach these Reps using a defined sales process that has been tested and verified. So business leaders, do yourself and your sales a favor. Require that your sales team follow a winning sales methodology, and manage to that. If your business strategy is sound, I can almost guarantee you will see immediate improvement.

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Bill Brooks, Sales Trainer and Motivational Speaker, has covered this topic extensively and I recommend his books and seminars for a much more detailed analysis. In particular, his new book The New Science of Selling and Persuasion: How Smart Companies and Great Salespeople Sell offers excellent insight into building a sales force that exceeds targets over and over.