You Are Making Too Much of Your Sales Process

What you do is special. What you sell is like nothing else in the world, and no one else could possibly understand how different it is. It’s full of complexities, nuances, and politics that make it impossible to fit into any of the common best practices or iron laws of sales; it has its own laws.

Sales is as much art as science. It is a creative endeavor. What is the point of being so resourceful if you can’t use it because you are forced to color within the lines of your sales process? That isn’t really selling, is it?

You say your sales process is too confining. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t take into account what is necessary in the real world.

So, you revolt against the sales process. You complain. You resist. Maybe you even lead the resistance.

While you are resisting, you ignore the stages, the steps, the information required, the access to the people you need, and the commitments you need to obtain to move your opportunity forward. And sometimes you even win! That has to be solid evidence that a sales process is unnecessary, doesn’t it?

No. It doesn’t.

The Real Reasons You Resist Following a Sales Process

Nothing you do is special to you and what you sell, at least as it pertains to the biggest pieces of the sales process and the iron laws of sales. You have to target the right prospects (or, if you want to succeed wildly, dream clients), you have to qualify those prospects, you have to enter some sort of discovery process, you have to diagnose, you have to present a solution (hopefully one that includes your dream client’s vision), and you have negotiate an agreement.

Your sales process does nothing more than to identify and direct the best practices under each of the stages of the process, from target to close.

The hard truth as to why you resist your sales process is that you don’t like to do some of what your sales process requires. Maybe you don’t like prospecting, so instead of targeting, prospecting to, and qualifying opportunities you simply wait for RFPs.

Or maybe the hard truth is that you don’t want to spend your time three or four levels deep into your dream client’s organization discovering the ground truth and building a full and complete understanding of what will be necessary to help them make the improvement they seek. You want to work with decision-makers and you want a shot at them in the boardroom, where you can really show how well you can think on your feet.

Perhaps the hard truth is that you don’t like asking for all the commitments that you need to obtain between target and close. You don’t want to bother anybody; they are busy after all.

Maybe there are parts of your sales process at which you aren’t as competent as you need to be to employ them successfully. Maybe there are stages or steps that you don’t know how to make valuable for your client. Or maybe you just don’t understand how important the stage, the step, the information, the people, or the commitments are to actually winning before you ever reach the boardroom.

You Are Making Too Much Of It

The hard truth is that you are making too much of your sales process.

You gain nothing by avoiding what makes you uncomfortable, avoiding what you fear, or failing to take personal responsibility for developing the full array of attributes and skills that will allow you to employ your process successfully—and to win more opportunities by doing so.

Your resistance to the process only destroys your professional development and growth, costs you opportunities that you might have otherwise won, and demonstrates an unwillingness to improve in the areas where improving would make all the difference in the world . . . for you, for your company, and for your dream client.

Your sales process can be part of your competitive advantage. It is a roadmap, and because sales is a messy, friction-filled, human endeavor, it is an always incomplete roadmap that still requires every bit of your creativity, your resourcefulness, and all of the application of the art—in addition to the science, not in place of it.

Instead of spending your time avoiding the sales process, work on the attributes and skills that allow you to take advantage of the best practices embedded in your sales process. Instead of making so much of not following the sales process, ask for the help, the guidance, the training, or development in each area (you can easily buy a book or two and fix your weak spots in the course of a couple weeks of reading and practicing).

Questions

Take out a copy of your sales process. Get a red pen or a highlighter and note the steps or stages you routinely skip or resist. Be brutally honest with yourself. What is the real reason you resist following what the process recommends?

What attributes or skills do you need to enable to be able to better follow your sales process? What skills would you need under each stage of the process to use it well enough to make it a competitive advantage?

What is the price of your resistance to the process in the way of deals that you might have won, were you to be brutally honestly with yourself while doing a real win-loss review?

For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4729.

Read my interview with Tom Peters (Part One and Part Two).

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