Ask any sales person if they have a formal sales process which they systematically follow every time out and the chances are good you will hear a resounding yes! The chances are equally good that it just isn’t true.
The problem is that knowing a sales process isn’t the same as truly using a sales process and that’s where the wheels usually come off the wagon. I have done enough ride-alongs and joint sales calls over the years to know that you can usually spot pieces of a sales process such as an objection handling model or a closing tactic but the use of an end to end, start to finish structured sales process typically isn’t happening with most sellers. Many end up executing a loosely organized, well intentioned, and often times successful, version of “winging it.”
I have sold a ton of stuff over the years by “winging it” but there is a better way! Several years ago a survey surfaced that was published by the Brooks Group which found that sales people who sell with a structured and consistent process are almost twice as likely to close business versus sellers that are “winging it.” The key point here is that ANY sales process is twice as likely to succeed as no process.
For those of us in the sales training business that is a sobering dose of reality. As much as we would like to believe that our sales process is superior in every way to our competition the truth is it just doesn’t matter. The most successful sales process on the planet is the one that a seller will actually implement in its entirety every time out. A sales process from any reputable training outfit will work quite well if that happens.
The magic isn’t so much in the details of the sales process itself but rather in the way it is taught and reinforced. Going from knowing to doing to owning the selling process is where the power lies. It’s really just that simple.
I believe very passionately that in order to accomplish mastery of a sales process, any process, sellers need to be engaged with frequently repeated reinforcement and coaching over a period of at least a year or more. Impractical you say? Sandler Training has based our entire business model on exactly that approach to training.
Are there exceptions to the rule? Of course, some people just learn and adapt faster than others. The bottom line is that if you are considering investing in sales training to improve your success or the success of a sales team you should be far more concerned with the HOW than the WHAT.