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A Great Sales Process – Elegant In Its Simplicity, Natural In Execution

by David Brock on December 2nd, 2009

In response to my post, But We Have A Sales Process…., Dave Stein wrote a great post, More Excuses For Not Doing The Right Thing About Sales Effectiveness. It’s a great post about excuses he hears for not having or following a sales process.  Please make sure you read it.

I also got some very interesting comments, both on this blog and in other places my articles are posted.  An issue that came up multiple times is “how to we have a sales process without having a lot of bureaucracy?”  The question reminded me of a lot of things I have seen in organizations I work with—those who have a sales process but where it is not being used.

Too often, we try to make our sales processes too complicated.  We try to make sure we have covered every possible outcome or case, every customer circumstance, for each of our products.   Years ago, we worked with a Fortune 100 organization.  We provided a recommendation for their sales process, roughly 25 key activities in about 5 key stages.  Subsequently, they decided to re-engineer it to make it “better.”  The result was a 12 stage sales process, with 9 pages of single spaced bullet points.  Is anyone surprised the sales people never used the process?

A great sales process is one that is elegantly simple.  A great sales process is a roadmap, based on best practices, that describes the most effective and efficient manner to guide the customer through their buying process.  It doesn’t describe every pothole in the road, or every small turn, it focuses on the critical activities needed to get to a successful sale.  A great sales process is one that causes the sales professional to think and analyze, using the process to help focus the strategy–not blindly follow a set of pre-described steps.

Finally, a great sales process feels natural in its execution.  It’s kind of like a golf swing, you can feel when you’ve made a great swing, and it feels easy and natural.  A great sales process, well executed should flow naturally.  However, like a golf swing, it doesn’t flow naturally until you practice it and use it constantly.

Look at your organization’s sales process.  Is it elegantly simple?  In execution does it flow naturally?  If not, maybe it’s time to redesign it.  If you need help, ask us  (sorry the salesman in me popped out–couldn’t resist 😉

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  1. David – I have enjoyed reading both your blog and Dave Stein’s blog about sales process. Your comments here, especially ring true. I have also worked with many organizations and marvel at how often there are 8, 10, 12 steps in the sales process that seem only to have confused everybody. The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) definitely apply.

    • Barbara, thanks for the nice comment. KISS is a great principle, not only for our sales process but for about all we do. Thanks for the note and for following my blog!

  2. David, your thoughts on simple elegance are simply elegant. It is a rare occasion when something is elegant and complex. Two of my favorite quotes on the topic are Albert Einstein’s:

    “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

    “Any fool can make things bigger and more complex[.] It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.”

  3. Mohamed Saad permalink

    Dave, great post reply…i did actually enjoy reading both the post anf your reply…once sentence you said that got me thinking in your reply to Dave Stien “The very best sales professionals I have met always have a process—it may be their private processs, but each of them can define precisely the steps and actions they go through to be successful” you just made a great point that often goes unnoticed which is the awareness of the process..but not just the awareness more important the believe of its value and benefits….the very basic hate to follow blindly…one thing that i consider a main reason why sales process is not followed (regradless of its quality) is that it is de-coupled from the people who should execute it..for two main reason (all i can think of now but i am sure there is more):
    -The sales process is usually created without the involvement of the sales person who should execute it and who is in a position to add value given his field expereince and daily exposure with customers.
    -The sales process does not take in consideration the very own characteristics, qualitiles and skills of the sales people who should execute it(some people are naturally not process based)

    when i had a look at Dave’s list of execuses you can to some extent feel they are the outcome of not being able to either inderstand it or believe in it….which leads to me conclusion that the very process of creating a sales process should pretty much be couple with the people who will execute it to ensure the very people can deliver and at the same time make them a key input for creating it

    • Great comment Mohamed! The only way to develop the sales process is with the deep engagement of the sales people—leveraging their experience, using them to understand best practice. In every case where the sales process has been developed without the sales people–it always fails. Less because of sales person resistance, but more because it’s a bad process, it doesn’t reflect reality.

      Thanks for joining the discussion and adding this insight! I reall appreciate it!

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