Yet, these exit criteria are probably the single most important part of the sales process.




Because the exit criteria are supposed to signify that the buyer has become more engaged in the process of defining their needs and moving towards a solution. Because the prospect has ‘moved on’ from one stage of their buying cycle to the next, so too should the sales rep.


Yet, we find again and again that companies use actions taken by the sales rep to define these exit criteria. Examples of inward-looking criteria include actions such as ‘submit proposal’, ‘conduct demonstration’, or ‘overcome objections’. They do not reflect any actual advancement on behalf of the buyer.


So, what should you do?


  1. Define each exit criterion for every sales process phase in a way that it represents an action taken by your buyer. Examples of outward-looking criteria include actions such as ‘prospect offers detailed comments on Sponsor Letter’, ‘prospect provides data to build the business case’, or ‘prospect agrees to solution outline’.
  2. Assess each buyer action to ensure that it represents that the prospect has moved from one phase of their buying cycle to the next. For instance, a prospect may be willing to give you discovery information about their operations and that may sound like progress. However, if they are already in their Compare Options phase, this action does not represent progress but only the fact that your sales team is late to the game because they are already assessing alternatives on how to solve the problem.
  3. Ensure your selling steps in each phase help attain these buyer-driven exit criteria. If they do not, they should be revised/improved.
  4. Ensure your sales aids and tools help achieve these buyer-driven exit criteria. If they do not, they should be revised or dropped.


Just by redefining your exit criteria in this way, you will have gone a long way towards aligning your sales process to your prospect’s buying process.


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Mike Drapeau

Makes data and analysis come alive so clients can understand the “what” and “why” and design solutions that fit the environment.

Once the leader of SBI Delivery, Mike is now head of the firm’s internal talent development, so he has had the fortune to help some amazing sales and marketing leaders. He starts by earning their trust. Much of this comes from his deep base of experience. With more than 25 years in sales, sales management, pre-sales and sales operations, he’s never met a challenge he didn’t like. And with backgrounds in sales leadership, marketing, and sales operations, he shuns the idea of being a desk jockey and relishes the idea of living in the field.


Mike maintains, develops, and leverages SBI’s library of emerging best practices for sales and marketing, which leads to evidence-based solutions, custom-fit to each client. Maniacally focused on execution, Mike does not believe in giving clients fancy deliverables with no operational details. He knows that field adoption is key. After all, if behavior doesn’t change, the lift doesn’t come. Likewise, if those closest to the field adopt the solution, the client wins.

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