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Don’t Rely On A Sales Process To Sell For You


I’ve been catching a lot of blogs and LinkedIn questions recently about sales process. What is the best process to use, should there be a corporate wide sales process, what’s the best method to close a deal, etc… While I think a sales process can be useful in guiding you along a certain path, I feel that too many sales people rely on their process to close the deal for them and in my opinion it simply isn’t the most effective way to do things.

It’s not that the processes are flawed. The flaw is in sales people thinking that they can drag their prospect through a process to earn the close. They robotically stick to the system and pay no attention to the mindset of the client. The result: a ton of “opportunities” sitting in your forecast for an extended amount of time that have little merit. I personally know sales people that strive to get out as many proposals possible because they think that the sheer volume will result in tons of revenue on the books. What they don’t realize is that the prospect pool is filled with people that will painstakingly go through your process only because they don’t want to say no to you. (aka tire kickers)

Here are a couple of guidelines to follow:

1) ABG- ALWAYS BE GAUGING! Gauge the level of buy in from your prospect at every stage in your sales cycle. Don’t take someone out of discovery phase until you know you have the right people, they accept that they have a problem, they have the money and the desire to fix the problem, and they think you are a viable option to fix it. Don’t move them out of demo until they have had all their questions answered on integration, they have a feel for the technology, they see the value adds, etc…

2) NEVER RELY ON THE NEXT STAGE OF THE SALES CYCLE TO SELL FOR YOU. You have to effectively sell and convince at every stage in your process. As I said above, don’t shift people into the next sales stage if it sounds like they have unanswered questions or doubts. We’ve all been on the other end of a call when someone pitches to you and it sounds terrible, but they try to move you to a demo because in their mind, “the product sells itself”. Just a tip, unless you’re selling the Ginsu knife (they are awesome) nothing sells itself. The demo won’t sell for you. A product specialist won’t sell for you. You need to sell at each stage and not rely on the process to influence someone.

3) The proposal should be a formality. Proposals are something both parties should use to express their distaste for dealing with legal departments. If you’re waiting on your proposal to close the deal you’re in a bad place. I’ve never seen a proposal that wowed me to the point of purchasing something that I didn’t want to purchase before. (Oh man I totally hated that sales person and the technology is terrible, but look at the flow of this proposal! Where is my pen?) I probably deny my prospects a proposal at least once in the sales process because I know I haven’t built enough value to warrant a signature. A prospect should get a proposal when they are ready for it, not when they ask for it and not when you think they should sign it. If you’ve followed the first two guidelines, the amount of proposals you send will probably drop, but the close rate will go way up.

Best of luck in closing out the year, happy holidays and let’s get ready for an awesome 2012!



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