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Your Sales Process Is Not A Route To Market

by David Brock on December 21st, 2010

I had an interesting email exchange the other day.  Someone had read many of my post on the Selling Process.  He posed a question about the sales process for a couple of industry segments he was assessing.  The more we exchanged emails, the more I realized he was really asking another question, he was not asking about the Selling Process but he was asking about the most effective Routes To Market–how to effectively reach customers in some specific industry segments.

It’s easy to understand the confusion, we have lots of processes and strategies in selling.  We tend to use the same words to describe very different things.  Routes To Market is something very critical to product, marketing and sales managers.  Understanding who your customer buys from, how to reach the customers, what are the most effective channels to leverage to reach your customers is critical.  There are so many alternatives available, it is a critical element of the overall go to market and sales strategies to assess the most effective routes to market.

But a go to market strategy and your Selling Process (at least as I’ve been using the term) are very different.  Both are critical, but address different aspects of selling.  The Selling Process is all about a deal or opportunity.  The selling process is the set of things that sales professionals do to find deals and opportunities, qualify them, and move them through to closure.  It is the set of activities we undertake to win a specific deal.  The sales process is based on our best experience in winning business.

There is a Selling Process, regardless of the route to market you choose.  The route to market may influence the design of your sales process.  For example, if you have a channel partner — another organization that sells your product to the end customer, it’s critical to educate them in the sales process—it helps them be more effective at winning business, so they should be interested.  Sometimes, your route to market involves a collaborative sales–you combine efforts with another organization.  This requires a different sales process, which both you and your partner have to execute.

Routes to market and the selling process are interrelated.  Both are critical, but they address different issues.  When you are looking to define your “sales process, ” be clear about what you are trying to do.  Are you really looking at your go to market/routes to market strategy–which is generally the responsibility of product/marketing/sales management, or are you looking at the most effective and efficient means to win a specific sales opportunity?

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