I’m sure many of you have figured out, I’m not your typical process guy. I’m not a big fan of process, but, there are a few places where process works. The sales cycle is one of them.
David Brock thew out this sales process post last week, But We Have A Sales Process . . . It’s a good post on why a Sales Process is necesssary. I agree with much of it. His post went and got Anthony Iannariono all fired up. In response, Anthony posted this: Sales Process Problems: Turn by Turn Guidance is Unavailable. I agree with much of what he says too. They are both good posts.
After all this Sales Process talk, I had to jump in. I love fricking sales processes. This is where I agree with David. They work. BUT, I don’t measure activity and this is where I agree with Anthony. Measuring activity does nothing but constrict the sales team.
I measure results.
Every sales cycle has a series of customer events or triggers that almost always happen before the deal closes. In almost all cases they happen in a linear fashion, ie one happens before the next one happens. These events are customer driven not vendor driven. They are based on how the customer buys. They could be the combination of signing of an NDA, the approval of budget, a pilot, the creation of a evaluation team, a solution assessment and contract signing (a six stage sales process). It could simply be a face to face meeting, a trial and approval from the CEO (a three stage sales process). What it is doesn’t matter. Knowing what it is matters.
Most sales processes focus internally and are activity based. They don’t work. Activity management doesn’t guarantee results. A sales process needs to map to the decision process of your customers. How does your customer buy? What steps do they take before they agree to buy? What support must be had? What processes must be followed? Who’s approvals must be gained? What must happen before money goes out the door? Figure out these questions and you have your sales process.
Every company has a process for buying new stuff. Go figure it out. Then build your sales process around that. Don’t make it activity based. Make it results based. Let your sales people figure out for themselves how they are going to get their prospect to “create an evaluation team” or get “the CEO’s approval.” That’s their job. Just don’t let them move past that stage in the sales cycle until they figure it out. Because, that’s your job.