Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a great fan of process and a great fan of results. Selling has always fascinated me because there’s no discipline where the focus on process and the focus on results are more in conflict.
Recently I was coaching a salesperson and we were debriefing a successful outcome. The rep was expecting that I was going to be patting him on his back; and while I certainly congratulated him on the sale, the focus was on several things he did that were not aligned with the sales strategy and process we had implemented within the company.
The rep, frustrated and probably a little angry asked me, “What’s it matter if I break the process, as long as I make the sale?”
My answer was that depends upon what your real goal is. If your viewpoint is to merely complete a transaction on a one-off basis, then it probably doesn’t matter. However, if your aim is to grow a business and create predictable, sustainable and scalable revenue it matters quite a bit.
I’ve shared before the remarkable similarities between hitting a baseball and making a sale. If you want sustained success as a hitter, your goal should be having a good at-bat. To consistently implement the process that you know works best over time. When you start short circuiting the process, your results will become less predictable, and over time you’ll be less successful.
If you’re building a business, your goal shouldn’t be creating revenue – it should be creating predictable revenue. If you’re selling, your goal shouldn’t be to make a sale – it should be to make predictable sales. You can only build predictability when you follow a process designed to deliver predictable results.
An important note is that compliance, in and of itself, should not be the aim when implementing a sales process. When compliance is put above effectiveness (as it unfortunately is all to frequently), salespeople will get disengaged.
When an exception to a process is needed, it should be done purposefully and the situation should be debriefed to determine whether it’s a legitimate exception or the process needs to be changed. While following a process may at times (seem) to lengthen a sales effort, over the course of time is will save time and resources.
In addition to this, there are three major benefits when an effective process is fully implemented and followed:
It Creates A Real Learning Environment
In most small and mid-sized organizations where salespeople all sell in their own way, it’s impossible to create what Peter Senge calls a Learning Organization. Individual style becomes the dominant cause of success, and what’s working for one person has no real value to another’s learning.
When the entire organization is following the same playbook, salespeople learn from each other naturally and effectively.
Without It You Cannot Align Your Sales and Marketing Efforts
Regular readers of this blog know how important aligning the sales and marketing functions are. If your sales team, whether it’s one person or 20, isn’t consistently following a process you cannot build the system around them to leverage and scale success.
With a clear process in place, you can implement the lead generation and management processes needed to win business today, and you can develop the account management structure you need to lengthen average lifetimes for customers and increase their average value.
It Allows You To Proactively Manage Your Business
Growth is disruptive. Without a uniform process your operations/services team is forced to reactively manage too much variance to keep everything smooth. Financially it becomes impossible to accurately predict what future needs are and executives are left guessing.
Implementing an effective, uniform process builds predictability throughout the organization and allows you to allocate resources effectively, manage the disruption and scale.