Top performers in virtually every profession follow a process. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, carpenters, police officers, accountants, professional athletes, the list goes on. Even the best artists; painters, musicians and writers alike look at their past performances, break them down into smaller, elemental pieces and analyze each to understand the components both on their individual value as well as how they relates to the grander system of their work.
Sales is no different. Top performers in our profession prove to be the process driven sales consultants. They follow a proven methodology again and again and again. They capitalize on their own past experiences and the experiences of others to continuously measure and improve their performance. They maximize their productivity at each small step along their way to ultimately yielding greater bottom line results and higher win percentages.
What is a Sales Process?
Simply put, a sales process is a clearly-defined, teachable, learnable, repeatable series of steps that help both buyers and sellers progress through an education and decision-making process thoroughly and effectively. Different than most other professions, a well-built sales process is bi-lateral. It takes into account two parties, buyers and sellers. Also unique, a sales process is built on top of another process, the steps a prospective client takes in making a decision, often referred to as the Buyer’s Journey.
The smart rep knows that following a sales process will increase his bottom line. By breaking down how top performers use process we can better understand and take advantage of its full value.
The Sales Process Advantage
From their very first sales calls, the process driven sales consultant is already ahead of his peers. He has studied what others before him have done to yield positive results and folded those best practices into his initial approach to the job. Sales process provides the ultimate blue-print for success. It is the framework of how great sales professionals prepare and execute. Like top athletes, top sales consultants practice constantly and play the game in their minds before the actual game even starts. This structure of preparation and roadmap of past success gives the process driven sales consultant an advantage in each phase of the conversation with his potential clients.
(The Process Driven Sales Consultant’s Evil Twin: Picture the sales guy who just shoots from the hip, un-prepared for even common challenges along the way, just trying to figure it all out as he goes.)
The High Watermark
The process driven sales consultant rarely gets worse at his job. And his performance shows it. Because he knows well what are the smaller elements that are helping him win, he is able to keep the good stuff and work on the bad. His historical trend line is almost moving up. He is disciplines to practice and continue to execute on what has already proven to work. The process sets the starting point of each sale at a higher, more productive level each time, regardless of external factors like the sales person’s mood any given day.
(The Process Driven Sales Consultant’s Evil Twin: Picture the sales guy who often gets lost in conversations, sometimes managing calls worse than in previous months because maybe he is just having a bad day or not feeling very motivated.)
Not only does the process driven sales consultant not take steps back, he regularly improves over time. His process, broken down into individual pieces, allows him to identify, target and work on the skills that most need sharpening right now. Not only is there a process to how he sell, but also to how he learns. Getting regular training and coaching is baked into the mindset of the process driven rep as he knows, external help is part of a process to improve process. The process requires a process to improve processes. (Insert ‘’The Matrix’’ joke here).
(The Process Driven Sales Consultant’s Evil Twin: Picture the sales guy who continuously makes the same mistakes in his work again and again, not even understanding how he keeps losing deals, let alone working on ways to fix things.)
The very essence of process is repeatability. And repeatability leads to predictability. Best practices are repeated over and over with common outcomes. Like a chess player, this allows the process driven rep to see each new deal 3 or 4 moves ahead. He knows that A+B+C=D. He starts down the path of A, checks the boxes at critical points during the sale (B and C) to get to the proven result, D. He does not diverge from this process as he knows missing pieces lead to low outcomes. His discipline or repeated high-yield inputs delivers the common output of him hitting his number month after month, quarter after quarter. He does this not by selling the miracle deals that nobody else can win. He is a master of hitting the high percentage shots, winning the deals he is supposed to win.
(The Process Driven Sales Consultant’s Evil Twin: Picture the sales guy who is always missing key ingredients in sales. He skips steps for no reason and tends to ‘’feel’’ when a deal is going well rather than ‘’know’’ when it is.)
Just as much as he knows how to best move a deal forward, the process driven sales consultant also knows when to walk away. Going back to his formula, if he is able to get A, but not able to add B, he does not try skipping ahead to C and D. He knows this doesn’t add up so he stops, works on removing the obstacle preventing him from getting B. If he can’t get it, he walks away. A sales process is again bilateral and the process tells him that if the conversation doesn’t fit the high-win profile his time is better spent elsewhere. This allows him to maximize efficiency by investing valuable hours in the prospects most likely to buy giving them more attention and detailed work.
(The Process Driven Sales Consultant’s Evil Twin: Picture the sales guy who tries to sell everybody, not asking for any commitments or confirmations along the way, ultimately getting repeatedly frustrated from deals that fall apart after a significant time investment or are lost right at the end for lack of attention to specific details that could have turned the loss to a win).
More than being 1 of the essential skills of A 5 Tool Sales Consultant, sales consultants who follow a process are your future sales managers. Some reps achieve top performer status through charisma and persuasiveness. Others out-hustle everyone else around them. But being charming or working harder are not scalable skills that can be passed on from one generation of sales rep to another. It is the process driven sales consultant who can teach his team how to move the needle on their performance, helping them breakdown their individual processes and getting stronger one key element at a time. For teaching itself is once again…a process.