The sales world is in a continuous state of change and everyone is looking for the latest “thing”. And as I started my sales career, so was I. Sales is flooded with a variety of technologies, frameworks and “guaranteed solutions” offering a quick fix - and the illusion of an extra edge over competitors.
What I recently realized is that I was looking too hard for a new off-the-shelf solution for greater sales success, while
I should have taken a deeper look at what was already there.
So what exactly am I talking about? What is this deeper look?
It’s deceivingly simple - we make a distinction between a strategic process and a direct customer interaction process. Lets take a quick look at them:
The Sales Force Process
Aimed at moving a potential customer from an awareness stage to a loyal customer; from a strategic point of view.
This process works best if applied from a top-level approach to your sales organization. Its focus is to guide the sales force to align the customers buying process. It should be customized in such a way that by the time the proposal stage is reached, it should be already in sync with the buying process.
In short, its purpose is more inclined towards structuring and organizing the administrative activities for sales managers and sales professionals. It provides the basic framework needed to hold the rest of the sales processes in place across the sales department. Let’s put it like this: if Sales would be a puzzle, the Sales Force Process would have to be the outline!
If formalized, it can bridge Sales with all other business areas (Marketing, Customer Service, HR, etc.), thus making real headway in achieving that so much sought-after organization wide synergy.
The Customer Sales Call Process
Aimed at all direct customer interactions. It focuses on guiding sales professionals to take their customers from pre-contact to closing the sales and follow-up.
Everything from what happens before the first approach (pre-call planning for example) to how the follow-up after the sale is completed should be done in accordance with this process.
It is very similar to the process above, yet the activities that it focuses on are different. It probably is THE most used process in the sales world (customized according to different industries and markets). It is also taught in almost all the business oriented universities around the world as The Sales Process.
Yet the Customer Sales Call Process is just a tool in the sales forces’ process tool kit. It should be applied for every step in the previously mentioned Sales Force Process.
Together with other processes (Customer Mapping process, Negotiation process, etc.) it completes the sales puzzle.
If formalized, it can go a long way in aligning all of the activities and client interactions of the sales professionals and their managers.
If these two processes are used in sync, they create the backbone needed for a world-class sales force.
In the foreword of the book Cracking the Sales Management Code, Dr. Rackham referred to a new paradigm in sales: the 3Ms:
These are the current three most important areas where sales organizations need to improve performance in order to stay competitive. By making the distinction when it comes to sales processes, you can improve in all three areas:
- Increased monitoring and alignment for sales management when it comes to administrative activities and performance management evaluation
- Help in pin-pointing key metrics specific to your organization for both processes, thus creating a basic “sales metrics dashboard” that can provide a quick and precise snapshot
- Clear and specific processes to eliminate redundancies and increase the dynamics of your sales forces organizational structure.
Before I wrap this up, I would like to remind you of (or recommend to you) Beth Roger’s book Rethinking the Sales Management: A strategic guide for practitioners. From the beginning she raises the attention to the fact that present day sales management is strategically driven.
And in my humble opinion, in the modern sales world, the difference between a good sales manager and a great sales manager is being able to understand company strategies and create sustainable objectives and tactics or activities for consolidating and growing your sales force.
By Mihai Coman