Think about this: You just invested a huge amount of time, energy and money in developing and training a buyer centric sales process.  And now your people are not using it.   


Our Making the Number research tells us that your peers feel the toughest part of a new sales process is having the team actually use it.  Click here to view it.


Sales people don’t use a sales process for one reason:  It doesn’t help them sell.  Why?  It’s not buyer centric, can’t help the rep anticipate what the customer is thinking and not used by the Sales VP.


Look at your process.  Is the training guide on the shelf with cobwebs? Are the job aids attached to opportunities in the CRM? Are the virtual training materials being viewed? 


Flip everything around.  Get with Learning and Development and design a new process.  But demand that it be broken into two simple categories:


  • Process Design
  • Post-Event Adoption


Process Design

Get your best sales reps and managers involved during the design of the process.  There are a couple key actions that ensure post training adoption:


  • Get Your Customers Involved.  If it truly is buyer-centric, get your top customers in a room. Ask them how they buy. Understand why they bought from you. Map their buying process and how it has changed in the past 3 years. Can’t get your top customers together?  Maybe you are not their top vendor.
  • Conduct a Sales Rep expert panel.  Gather your top reps and pick their brains.  Ask them how they get superior performance.   Map the buying process in their customers.  Discuss how a new process might look.  This is total buy-in-and they will tell everyone about it.
  • Pilot the new process.  Pick a core team of reps and have them test the new thing live.  Work through any bugs. Find out what is good-or bad.  Rewrite based on their feedback.
  • Have the Sales Managers train the reps.   It’s called Train the Trainer.  And is the most important action you can take towards adoption. Have L&D sit in the back of the room and get your manager up on stage.  If you had to train your managers, wouldn’t you know the process cold?
  • Baseline four core metrics. Sales cycle length, win rate, no decision loss rate and average sales price are non-negotiable.  Nail where they are currently at and measure them along the way to gauge success.


Post Event Adoption

87% of Sales Rep Attendees don’t remember the material they were trained on 30 days after the event, let alone use it.  These steps below will increase retention and adoption:


sales process adoption program


  •  You (the Sales VP) must be involved.  You must fully adopt the process. For example:  Every time you discuss a deal–use the appropriate job aids.  Every time you go on a field ride with a rep to see a customer– fill out a call plan.  Every time you get a forecast–check the stage status and review the exit criteria for compliance.  Sales processes fail because Sales VPs don’t enforce them every day.
  • Train Change Management.   Sales Reps expect immediate improvement.   It doesn’t work like that; even with short sales cycles.  And most sales people ‘cherry pick’ the new process.  That leads to immediate failure.  Use the entire thing–soup to nuts.


change leadership sales process


  • Implement a rigorous adoption process. Construct a bottoms-up reinforcement program. Download a sample here.  Attack all angles. Remember, you are in it for the long haul.  Be extremely exhaustive – for example:
    • Have the CEO chime in
    • Create on-line learning modules of each stage in the process
    • Conduct deal strategy calls using the job aids
    • Audit the core key metrics
    • Create team calls that drive compliance


Taking a stake in adoption will occur through collaboration. Results improve through buy-in.  Below are those results from a properly designed and adopted process. Notice the improvements in core key metrics.


sales wins increase sales process


Adoption and reinforcement is not a part-time thing. It needs to become the vernacular of the sales force.


“We have seen business leaders who needed to invest 40% of their time in order to be effective at integration. This is not a 2-hour a week meeting” says Ned Wootton of the Canadian Society of Association Executives


The sales process is at the core of your sales strategy.  Nail design and adoption to be effective. Committed Sales VPs use this motto: 


This is the way we sell to our customers.  Learn it or don’t work here.

Here are 5 tips to ensure sales process adoption:


  1. Make it all about the customer-get them involved
  2. Get the best reps involved in design
  3. Battle test it before rollout
  4. Talk about it everyday; Use it everyday
  5. Dive into the pool; don’t ‘cherry pick’ the best parts


Are you having trouble with your process?  Deals getting stalled in a stage?  Pipelines look like Humpty-Dumpty rather than a funnel?  Forecasts not accurate?


Send me an email; leave a comment.  We have helped hundreds of companies with sales process and adoption.  Register for our 2013 Making the Number session.  You will get to learn what your peers are doing and how to get started on the right path.