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Posted: June 03, 2011

Sales process = sales success

It's time to get one or fix yours

Liz Wendling

Closing sales is essential to building any successful business. Every sale - and I mean every sale - involves a process of defined steps, and skipping a step or going out of order typically results in a lost sale.

 The word "process" comes from the Latin word "procedure" meaning to proceed, and is a series of operations or stages that lead to an end product or outcome. Regardless of what you sell, the sales process is like a production line and it must follow a specific sequence. No sequence + no process = no sale. Always!

If you are using that formula, you can guarantee your sales efforts will be a big waste of precious time, money and energy.
There are many moving parts to the sales process: creating rapport, creating trust, asking impactful questions, talking about budgets, handling objections, gaining commitment, all the way to closing the sale. To be successful in selling you should be able to move through each step with precision; any diversion from the process will result in a lost sale.

Think about it - everything is a process. Lifting an airplane off the ground, driving a car, baking cookies, brushing your teeth, getting ready in the morning, learning a foreign get the point. All involve a process of steps that lead to the desired goal. Why would anyone set out to sell anything without a formal process that could almost guarantee increased sales? It is like trying to build your dream house without blueprints.
When businesses and salespeople use a sales process, they have more consistent success with their sales performance. Why so many fail to develop or identify their process is a mystery. The evidence is so compelling for having one.

Not using a sales process or using the "fly by the seat of your pants" sales process is a flawed business strategy that has become all too common in business these days. But the seat-of-the-pants salesperson or business owner will never come close to the income of the systematic salesperson.
Great salespeople and top performers have a process for generating a steady stream of good leads from multiple sources.

They have an intake system for those leads, categorizing them, managing them, organizing them and following up on them with multiple steps. Everything they do is scripted, rehearsed, fine-tuned and memorized. They own it! They don't perform random acts of selling; they are consistent in their efforts and their efforts yield big results.

Some companies I work with tell me they are using a sales process but that it's just no longer working. I explain to them, and firmly believe, that if they have a flawed or outdated sales process, then forcing salespeople to use it is counterproductive - fix the process first, then show salespeople how they can be more productive and effective using one.

Now the flip side, to the people who will have a problem with me saying that a process is the only way to produce results. If you do not agree, then keep doing what you are doing and getting the same results. It is hard to muster sympathy for companies and salespeople who would rather whine and complain about losing sales than create and use a structured process.

They tell me it stifles their creativity and limits their ability to connect with potential customers. Give me a break. That is just another excuse for people who would rather fail than change with the times. They would rather be right than go to the bank.

If you are not closing sales or you are not sure why you are losing sales, then that is a big clue that you need help. Those who do not use a process or who do not make their process integral to their sales operation will fail miserably in the area of sales success.

The economy and the customers have changed. The faster things are changing-competition, market conditions, the way customers buy, the products and solutions offered, the more you have to update our sales process. There is just no good excuse for not using a current sales process. A great sales process is a road map to success. If you need help, just call.
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Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales strategist and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back.

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Readers Respond

Liz, I'm from Boulder ... we Boulderites love to resist process its so confining! However, I have learned how critical process is to predictable success. As you pointed out, it's critical in sales it's also vital in every aspect of business. Continuous process improvement is a part of all successful people's thinking and it's predicated on having and following a process. Thanks for reminding us how critical it is to sales. By TC North on 2011 06 03
Another great piece. If you ever want to take all of your ColoradoBiz articles and put them in a book, I'd be your publicist. By Stephen Koenigsberg on 2011 06 03

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