Getting sales process right

teeny Whether or not you have put in place a sales process – it is happening everyday.  It is whatever your salespeople are doing Monday morning to navigate the customer’s buying process.

The real problem is not, therefore, a lack of sales process.  The problem is too many companies do not systematically manage and evaluate their sales process.

In today’ markets buyers are changing how they buy but sales organizations often fail to adjust and adapt their sales process to the new reality.  The end result over time is a misalignment between how buyers buy and how sellers sell.

In B2B sales you can do a whole lot of things right but if your sales process is misaligned with the buyer’s decision process all those good things are for not.

So this is worth getting right.  Let’s explore this “getting right” journey by examining two pitfalls that need to be avoided.

Lack of definitional clarity.  Sales process unfortunately is one of those concepts that means different things to different people.  Some will say if you put in place a new questioning model you have changed your sales process.  Others would say executing such a change is simply adopting a new questioning model.

Try it.  Ask around – a good bet is you will not just get different answers but entirely different types of answers.  The point is – to make something better everyone needs to have a clear and common vision of the topic at hand. It’s about being on the same page.

Our suggestion is restrict the term sales process to mean the overall set of steps you take from the beginning to the end of your sales cycle to win the business versus using the term interchangeably with concepts related to selling techniques, models, frameworks, and best practices.

Unbridled compliance.  It is not a good idea for a whole bunch of reasons to have every sales rep do their own thing – that is not a road to success.

On the other hand, in today’s disruptive buying environment it is equally true that unbridled compliance to a standard sales process can have its own pitfalls.

The greatest risk of unbridled compliance to any standardized process is that it only works when a sales rep is following a path that leads to success.  In the B2B market the problem is many companies are going through transformational changes.  These changes are impacting what they buy, how they buy, and what they are willing to pay for it.

So, a strategic caution: Are you doing a good job driving compliance to a sales process that is more about what and how your customers were buying five years ago versus what they are doing here and now?

On the sales process scale of “everyone does their own thing to blind compliance” we suggest being somewhere in the middle.  Introduce a well thought out sales process because it can contribute to replicating success and scaling the business.  But, beware of overdone rigor and excessive compliance.  The latter will tend to eliminate the innovation that will define what success looks like tomorrow.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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4 Responses to Getting sales process right

  1. Steven says:

    I’m not sure how I got on your newsletter mailing list, I don’t remember ever signing up, but of all the “sales” related emails I get, it’s your’s I’m most reluctant to delete. I’ve met, and read the works of many so called sales coaches, and after all that effort, it’s refreshing to finally meet or at least discover someone who truly gets it, especially with regard to B2B sales. If you are successful in reaching out to the many HR professionals who after a continuous cycle of hire, fire, rehire, again fire…… will certainly make, both yourself, and that company, more money than either of you had ever imagined.

  2. Dick Ruff says:


    Thanks a lot for the thoughtful thoughts – it is always very rewarding to find out that someone is actually out there and that on a good day we might be making a small contribution to the good of the cause.

    If you ever have a moment we would love to chat and gain your insight on the types of ideas that are most helpful.

    Dick Ruff

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