Have you ever tried to make chili by throwing all the ingredients together in a giant pot, stirring, and then slowly cooking all day?
If you had, you’d know that is NOT the best way to cook chili! First, you brown the meat. And if you were an onion lover, then you’d add onions during this stage to get the most flavor.
After the meat is browned and fully cooked, drain the fat (if healthy eating is important to you), and add the chili seasoning, followed by the rest of the ingredients, which could vary depending on where you’re from and personal preferences. If you were to rush through the process and skip browning the meat first, you’d find the results are remarkably different.
When you change the process, you change the results.
Changing the Sales Process Also Affects the Results
When you cook, whether chili, key lime pie, chicken noodle soup, etc., a necessary sequential process is recommended to get the best results. Typically, that process is provided with the recipe and cooking instructions.
When you change the process by skipping or rearranging steps, the results also change. This logic also applies to B2B sales.
Whether you sell software, media, heavy equipment, real estate, insurance, or technology, salespeople must follow a necessary sequential sales process to get the best results.
For instance, it would be completely illogical for a salesperson to cold call a prospect and, upon hearing a voice on the other end, immediately introduce themselves and then profess that they’ve been able to identify an incredible solution to a challenge. Then process to ask to schedule an appointment to present them with the idea and contract immediately!
Whew… just thinking about that warp-speed, insane sales process blurs our thoughts.
This process jumps over several necessary steps and would almost certainly result in a lost opportunity… probably forever!
A Logical Sales Process
“A systematic series of actions directed to some end” is Merriam-Webster's definition of process.
In sales, it serves as a road map or a guide to a desired business result, and it’s a fantastic step-by-step list of actions necessary to achieve success. This means the probability of success greatly increases just by following the process correctly. This applies to all salespeople… the veterans and newbies alike!
The power of a logical process is extremely valuable. And while it can produce measurable results (and often does), it’s also a series of steps aimed to help salespeople get into action and move from one step to the next… and then all the way through the entire sales process from prospect to close. Again, it’s a means to an end that dramatically increases the probability of success!
Sometimes it’s necessary for salespeople to act their way to the right thinking rather than think their way to the correct actions! And when you have a strong sales process to guide you through the necessary sequential steps, it’s easy to start!
Analysis paralysis is real and can threaten the success of a salesperson’s career. We've heard many great sales managers tell their salespeople, “Sometimes you just have to get in the car and drive!”
The Next Steps
Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking are necessary and wonderful; however, utilizing the “throw it up in the air to see what sticks” approach to converting prospects into clients is a mistake.
Managers and salespeople should always consider the means to the end they seek and ensure the path they’ve carved will take them where they want to go and deliver the results they’re working to achieve.
And if you’re consistently coming up short, not meeting your budgets, or achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself or your team, take a look at the process you’re following.
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2013 and has since been updated.