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The sales process is dead.  Forever gone into the history of the sales profession.  It was great while we had it. You know, the one that resembles something like the illustration above.

 

Almost every sales team and rep has been trained to follow a process similar to this one.  I personally made a lot of money following this type of process. But it is no longer effective.

 

Why?  Your buyer has forever changed.  The difference in the way they buy forces a selling change.  But since you already have a sales process, can you still use it?

 

Download the Sales Process Test to find out.  It will:

 

  • Assess your current process
  • Determine if you can salvage it or have to start over
  • Guide you in developing a buyer process that is outward –in instead of inward-out

     

The best sales people today don’t use a sales process to sell.  They use a buying process to understand and match themselves to the customer.  Understanding this helps them deploy specific actions and activities.  These help pull the customer through their buying process.  They help strengthen compelling events.  And help prioritize the customer’s problem and use your solution exclusively to solve it.

 

These actions and activities are then mapped to the customers buying process by stage.  A new selling process is now established.  One that shows a sales person what to do and when to do it.  This is all based on what stage the customer is in.  This new selling process doubles win rates and reduces sales cycle lengths.

 

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But how does this work?  It has three major components.  Each is described below:

 

  1. Buying Personas:  These are representations of your buyers.  They identify the role, objectives, obstacles, fears and desires of your decision makers.  Since most sales have multiple personas as decision makers/influencers, each is asking different questions.  Understanding these different personas helps us act appropriately to that persona.
  1. Buying Process Map:  Simply put it’s a map of how the customer buys.  This is defined with Buying Phases, Actions and Questions.  Questions the buyer is asking themselves when they are in that phase.
  1. Sequenced Sales Process:  The sales process then shows actions and activities needed in the Buying Process Map.  These are the actions and activities the sales person must perform.  By mapping the buying process to the sales process, it gives clear direction.  These activities help pull the buyer through their individual buying process at the appropriate speed.

     

Download our “How to Make Your Number in 2015” Research Report here for more information on using Personas and Buying Process. 

 

Let’s look at an example for clarity:

 

Your car won’t start.  You tow it to the mechanic which he tells you need a new starter. You are in the stimulated phase in your buying process.  And your trigger event is simple.  You ask yourself a question:  ‘Do I fix the car or get a new one?’

 

You decide to buy a new car instead of fixing the old one.  Yet this purchase requires you to discuss it with your spouse.  There are now two ‘personas’ involved in this decision-you and your spouse. You are further along in your buying process than your spouse at this point.  Your spouse is just entering their buying process.  And your objectives are to now buy a sports car as a replacement.  But your spouse wants to purchase an SUV.  Each of you have different objectives, desires, fears etc.

 

Enter a car sales person in our example.  If this person was using the methods described, they would do several things.  First they would identify all the personas involved in the decision. Then they would map where each one is on the buying process map.  Actions and activities are now performed tied back to where the customer is. In our example, the car salesperson would help answer questions for both personas. And pull both personas through their buying process with activities mapped to it.

 

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Call to Action:

 

  • Develop core personas that are your decision makers and influencersMarketing should have personas already built. These personas should be of your main decision makers and influencers.  If they don’t, check out the SBI website.  There are templates to help get you started.
  • Understand the customers buying process:  This requires deep customer knowledge.  The type of knowledge that can only be developed through customer contact.   Start with the basic map on the SBI website and modify it for your customers.
  • Create sequenced actions and activities for your sales process:  Think through what actions and activities your sales people can do to advance sales.  Map these stages to the buying process phases.  Sequence these activities so your sales people can advance these sales.

     

Scrapping the old traditional sales process for a new one is necessary.  We have noticed win rates falling and sales cycles getting longer.  Your sales people are struggling keeping up with their buyers.  Don’t get caught with an inward out sales process that doesn’t work anymore.  Get them enabled now.  Or face the realism you might miss the number.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Perry

Intensely focused on helping sales and marketing leaders in B2B companies make their numbers at SBI.
Learn more about Dan Perry >

Dan approaches the idea of making your number from a unique perspective. Like many SBI leaders, he has walked a mile in your shoes. He comes from the industry side and has had to make his number to be successful. Perhaps this is why it’s wise to rely on SBI’s evidence-based methodologies. Though SBI is certainly an execution-based firm, Dan only implements strategies and solutions for his clients after they have been verified with before-and-after data. This leads to adoption of sales programs in the field, rather than shelf-ware.

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