In this article, we’ll make the case for developing and defining your sales process with five reasons you may not have considered.
There’s a school of thought in sales that a rigidly defined sales process inhibits creativity and flexibility. Those with more natural charisma and talent may chafe at the thought of reducing their approach to ‘script’ or ‘outline’. But sales is as much science as art–and those who wish to compete at the highest levels, to see the greatest success and achieve the greatest outcomes, need to learn to balance those two aspects. A sales process doesn’t have to kill flexibility, or creativity–in fact, used properly, you’ll see better returns in both those areas. In this article, we’ll make the case for developing and defining your sales process with five reasons you may not have considered.
It may not seem like a huge benefit, but being able to practice your basic sales process until it becomes instinctive will help quite a bit under high-pressure situations. A major prospect might throw your game off if you’re a free-flowing sales person, but if you’ve perfected and ingrained a sales process you’ll find yourself performing much the same under any circumstances. There are also certain forms of practice where defined sales processes are more or less mandatory–role playing without knowing your sales process, for example, will benefit you much less as there’s no consistent pattern to ingrain.
Once you’ve developed your sales process, you’ll find you gain great insight into how well a particular lead will play out, especially as you progress through the sales cycle. This gives you a number of benefits, beginning with the ability to better prioritize prospects (whether you’re generating fresh leads or using those provided to you). That same insight also gives you an opportunity to correct course earlier, as you’ll be aware of upcoming problems before they occur.
With a defined sales process, you don’t risk missing out on key points in your strategy. Taking a step back, you may not even know the ‘important’ steps of a sale until you develop your sales process. Oftentimes when we focus overmuch on the ‘art’ of sales, we end up overvaluing useless steps and undervaluing key turning points. When you define your process, you look at it objectively, scientifically, and gain a much better idea of what’s making the magic of the ‘art’ happen.
Once you know what your process should look like, your ‘generic high-success plan’, you can begin experimenting in earnest. The fact that each part of your plan is defined and consistent means that when you tinker with different ways of selling, you have a baseline to compare with. If you’re freefalling through each sale, you can’t compare in such a way, because your conscious, intentional change may not be the cause of the outcome you get. IF the only changes happening between one sale and the next are those you plan to change, you gain superior insight into whether that change was beneficial or harmful to your success.
The teaching portion may not matter much to some sales people, so we’ll focus on the benefit to learning. When you develop a consistent sales process, you gain a nuts-and-bolts view of sales that makes all the advice you get from books, blogs, and videos on the internet far more useful. Applying advice to something concrete is always easier than applying it to something nebulous. So if you’re at all interested in continuing to learn the craft from more experiences sales people, it behooves you to develop a concrete sales process. Most of those experienced sales people will be teaching with the understanding that you’re using a stable process for just this reason.
Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.