Is the Concept of Sales Process Really Antiquated?

antiquatedWe read about yet more school shootings, abductions, madmen dictators’ plans to rule the world, and any of the other recurring events that must be the work of pure evil.   Do you get to the point where you say to yourself, “The world is going crazy!”?  I do.  I also think the sales world is going a bit crazy too.

For me, it began two months ago when I posted, Now That You Have a Sales Process, Never Mind, in rebuttal to a stupid article about sales process being the cause of long sales cycles and low closing ratios.

Then, in response to those who are proponents of demo-based selling, I posted, We’re Back to AIDA and You Should be Scared.  The controversy continues to escalate, especially in some private LinkedIn groups, where comments are on the rise to Why Win Rates are at an All-Time Low and What is the Most Difficult Part of the Sales Process?.

To make a long story short, there are QUITE A FEW people in sales, sales management, sales leadership, and even sales consulting who believe sales process is the problem.  I would like to put a stop to that nonsense once and for all.

When I read claims that sales process is responsible for lost sales, many of the claims are actually examples of bad scripting rather than bad sales process.  Sales Process is milestone-centric, while manipulative tactics, negative outcomes and strong pressure tend to be script-centric.

There are some people who still fail to comprehend what a modern, effective, relevant, optimized sales process looks like.  Most people equate sales process with a bunch of scripted steps, and in companies where there is a sales process, it tends to fit that antiquated definition.  Continued…

A properly designed, staged, optimized process is all about the customer-centric conversation.  This sales process also includes a sequence of milestones that build upon themselves.  Sales processes that fail to provide consistent, desirable results in these modern times are typically built around qualifying questions rather than a consultative, customer-centric conversation.

Many proponents of anti-sales process movement use their own, personal results as support for their position.  However, one of two scenarios are usually in play:

  1. They are successful without a process, but they have intangibles that can’t be duplicated, taught or transferred.  What’s working for them, won’t work for anyone else.
  2. Their concept of successful is flawed.  They are more successful than their peers (who are also working without a process) in that when compared to the general sales population and, more specifically, the elite 6% or top 26%, they compare very unfavorably.

You’ll know whether or not you have an effective, optimized sales process if it consistently yields predictable results, is duplicable, repeatable and transferable, works in multiple industries and verticals, and variations of it prove effective even among different sales roles.

It’s really not sales process itself that is antiquated; it’s most people’s perception of sales process that is antiquated.