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Is Your Sales Process Broken?

Your sales process may be badly broken... and might not know it! Sales processes are like filters through which you view the customer world. You may be seeing "normal" attrition in your pipeline when, in fact, a better process might convert twice as many prospects.

How, then, do you tell if a sales process is broken? The best way is measure its performance against that of a similar group using a different process. However, that's not always possible. Failing that, here are the four red flags that a sales process may be badly broken.

  • Red Flag #1: Your sales process was written by top management. In most cases, top management is not close enough to the customer to define an effective sales process. It's not at all unusual to find CEOs truly think that they know more about the customer than the customer themselves. RULE: The sales process must be written and updated by the sales team.
  • Red Flag #2. Your process defines what reps, not customers, do. Flawed sales processes usually consist of a list of activities that reps accomplish over the course of a sales. (E.g. "I made an initial call" or "I sent a brochure.") RULE: Effective sales processes usually consist of customer activities. (E.g, "they agreed to meet with me" and "they shared their requirements with me".
  • Red Flag #3. Your sales process is more than five years old. The constant influx of technology into the business world, both productive and non-productive, has wreaked vast changes on customer's decision-making and buying habits. RULE: A sales process that was once excellent can become obsolete and ineffective over time simply because the customer no longer wants to buy the way you're still selling.
  • Red Flag #4. Your reps don't really use your sales process. If reps are only giving lip service to the sales process, but following their own instincts when they're in the field, it's a good sign that the process out of whack with reality. RULE: Sales reps will embrace an effective sales process without ANY management pressure, because it truly makes it easier for them to sell.
The above is based upon a conversation with the sales guru Michael Bosworth, author of the classic sales best-seller Solution Selling.
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