As a guy who helps organizations design, implement and execute a sales process, I hear it all the time; “Don’t tell me how to do my job.” It’s a hoot to watch the reaction when I reply, “I have no intention of even trying to do so.”
There’s no way an outside consultant, or even a VP of Sales for that matter, can tell an experienced rep how to do his or her job. It’s like the old joke about trying to teach a pig to dance. It frustrates you and annoys the pig.
Start with “what” and continuously improve the ‘how.”
There’s a better way to approach implementing a consistent sales process across an entire sales team and constantly making it better. Start by defining the “what.” It’s surprisingly easy to get a group of fiercely independent, strong ego sales types to agree on it. It takes two or three serious debates, but group after group in industry after industry agrees on the same basic core process:
- Identify An Opportunity – Identify a specific individual in a specific account that might maybe someday buy something from me
- Gain Attention – Get some sort of meeting or conversation scheduled with that individual
- Earn Interest – Maybe you’d prefer to call it “qualify.” Earn enough interest in your stuff to convince the prospect to actually do something to help advance toward an possible purchase
- Conduct Discovery – Learn, learn, learn. Clearly define and quantify the customer’s objectives and/or pain, and understand the decision process and criteria. Paint the “Before” picture.
- Recommend – Tell ‘em what you recommend they do, why and the $$$ impact. Paint the “After” picture. (I used to call this “Propose,” but that’s another story.
- Close – Get the order
The terminology might be different and maybe there are a few more or less steps, but what needs to occur is fairly universal. It’s the reps themselves that fill in the blanks about how. Stated differently, “how” is the set of best practices to accomplish each “what.” These practices vary a lot more from company to company and industry to industry, but usually not as much as folks expect.
In fact, the degree of uniqueness really doesn’t matter. What matters is measuring the effectiveness of each “best” practice. Over time the pretender best practices get dropped and replaced with better ones.
This continuous improvement of your sales process thing really is that simple. The hard parts are getting started and sticking with it.