The Two Types of Sales Processes—and How to Choose Between Them


In many sales organizations, reps chafe at the sales process. Or they don’t bother with it. Industry, product, buyer expectations and behaviors—the sales process accounts for none of these. When reps do follow the process, they stumble and miss the target.


If your sales process is similarly out of touch, it’s doing three things. 1) Eroding your competitive edge. 2) Damaging your team’s morale. 3) Hindering your ability to meet your sales revenue goals.


In this post, we’ll help you determine whether your sales process is the right fit. We’ll compare the two types of sales processes (one and multi). And we’ll help you choose between them.


Your sales process is the key to consistent sales performance. The trick is picking the right type of process to use.


Signs Your Sales Process Is a Bad Fit:

If some or all of these apply, your sales process is ineffective. Worse, it may be backfiring.


  • Missing the number. This should prompt a thorough review.
  • Reduced deal size. Your average sales price (ASP) is down.
  • Sliding win rate. You’re just not closing sales like you used to.
  • Lengthy sales cycle. What once took you 180 days is now taking 210.
  • The way you’re losing. Are you losing to “do nothing,” or to a competitor? Perhaps you’re not clarifying your value proposition (“do nothing”). Or you’re not effectively addressing buyer needs (competitor).
  • Sales turnover. Your A-Players know your sales process is hindering their success. So they’re heading for the exit.


To confirm your sales process is the culprit, conduct a win/loss analysis. Ask your customers why you’re winning. Ask past prospects why you lost, or why they never made a decision. Both groups will be happy to provide the answers you need.


Go ahead and use our Win/Loss Interview Guide to conduct your next Win/Loss review.  We’ve included the right questions to ask to get quality feedback from customers and prospects.  Get access to the guide here


One Sales Process – Pros and Cons:


Pros: A one-size-fits-all sales process couldn’t be simpler to develop. It doesn’t require much upkeep. And it’s easy for the sales team to adopt.


Cons: On the minus side, a single, uniform sales process doesn’t reflect these realities:


  • Most companies have multiple buyers and buying processes.


  • Products may vary in complexity.


  • Selling to existing accounts differs from acquiring new ones.


One sales process isn’t intimate or focused. It doesn’t attempt to meet buyers where they are. So it may create friction in the funnel. And make closing deals more challenging.


Now, Let’s Compare the Multi-Sales Process:


Pros: The multi-sales process is focused on the individual, not the company. It’s persona driven. You know the right questions to ask and what buyers value. And you understand the problem you’re helping them solve. As a result, the buying experience is more individualized. And when you lose, you’ll know exactly why—so your team can continually progress.


Cons: The only downside is the work involved. You’ll have to:


  • Research and fully develop your buyer personas.
  • Build your sales process around them.
  • Devise plans for training, adopting, and coaching.
  • Regularly revisit your buyer personas and sales process to keep them current.


Here’s How to Decide Between Them:

Set aside how little or how much effort these sales processes demand. If you’re concerned about revenue, you need to make an informed decision. Here’s how.


  • Map the buying process. Focus on buying phases, key buyer actions, and questions buyers are asking. This will help you gauge your buyers’ complexity.
  • Assess your team’s capabilities. Consider your sales team’s maturity. Can sales managers effectively coach on an ongoing basis? Can reps adjust to new complexities without losing productivity?
  • Know where you stand in your industry. How complex are your products? Are you deploying a complex solution in a simple, low-margin, commoditized industry?


Bottom Line:

A multi-sales process takes work to build, effort to maintain, and coaching to adopt. One sales process is far easier to implement. But there’s no shortcut to effectiveness. To choose the right path, you must understand your buyers, buying process, and competitive landscape.


In our judgment, a multi-sales process is the better way to go. It better equips sales reps and fosters continuous improvement. And it leads to greater revenue gains over time. For these reasons, we think it’s well worth the effort.


Matt Sharrers

Studies and works with the top 1% of B2B sales and marketing leaders who generate above average revenue growth for their companies.
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Matt is arguably one of the industry’s most connected, and physically fit, sales leaders. He “lives in the field.” As a result, he is the foremost expert in the art of separating fact from fiction as it relates to revenue growth best practices. Because of Matt’s unique access to the best sales talent, private equity investors tend to turn to him first when they need to hire remarkable leaders to unlock trapped growth inside of their portfolio companies. Matt’s recent engagements include work commissioned by private equity leaders Permira, TPG, Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman.


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