Following a Sales Process

In my business travels and speaking engagements across the USA, I get to see and learn about many different enterprises. I often find out that many do not have a documented business plan, and even fewer have a formal process for achieving sales success. Because of this, I have been conducting some informal research on the number of attendees and businesses that develop and follow a business plan. My results show that less than five percent of us actually develop and execute a plan for our businesses. I would take this one step further and say that less than one percent of people surveyed use a sales process.

Being effective at selling is not any different than manufacturing a quality product or building a house. You would not attempt either of the above tasks without first developing a plan or process to achieve your desired results. As a matter of fact, you would not try to drive from Texas to New York without a plan. It’s the simple truth that people who plan are more successful than those that don’t! It does not matter if you own the business, or are a high level sales executive, a sales manager or the sales rep making the calls. Develop a plan and follow it. In reality, it does not even matter if the plan is perfect. We all know that a great plan marginally executed will never outperform a marginal plan that is executed well.

Developing a sales process is a simple exercise in documenting the steps that need to take place during a sales interaction with a customer. If you are in the restaurant business your process might start out looking like this:

1. Greet Customer: “Welcome to Harry’s . We’re happy to see you tonight.

2. Introduce yourself: “My name is Warren and I will be taking care of you tonight. If there is anything special you need, please let me know.”

3. Describe the specials of the day: “Our chef had some red snapper brought in fresh off the boat this morning for his special tonight. He can blacken it with a shrimp white wine sauce, or you can get it grilled with a lemon dill sauce. I tried them both this evening when I came in and they are wonderful. “

4. Pass out the menus: “The menu is divided up into six sections. Appetizers and salads on the left with beef, poultry, seafood and sides on the right. Our side dishes are a nice size portion and typically feed two to three guests.”

5. Ask if the group will be having wine or cocktails this evening.

6. Etc., Etc., Etc.

If you are in the real estate business your process might start out looking like this.

1. Greet Customer: “Welcome to Houston Northwest Properties. I am glad you came in to see us.”

2. Make the customer feel at home. If they have kids with them, see if the parents will let you show them the office play room.

3. Build Rapport: Find common ground! Use open ended questions like: “What brings you in today”, “How did you hear about our firm?” “Are you new to Houston?” “How long have you lived on the Northwest side of town?”, “Did you grow up here?”

4. Find out what they are looking for in a realtor: “What are you looking for from your realtor?”

5. Describe what your firm does for them as a client.

6. Etc., Etc., Etc.

These are simple examples of what the documented process looks like. You can also look at our sales process by clicking this link. Once you have documented your processes all you have to do is implement your new system by learning and practicing the steps. You may have to teach your team the process 10 to 20 times before they can consistently deliver the process. Implementing a consistent sales process will drive consistent sales results – don’t get frustrated, practice makes perfect! If the McDonald’s point of sale person can consistently ask you if you want an “Apple Pie” your team can implement a sales process in your company!

I promise you that all of the great businesses you patronize follow a sales process that make every experience predictable and keep you coming back time after time. The key to making this successful in your business is inspecting what you expect. At our office we monitor and voice record telephone calls. We also video tape presentations and make joint sales calls to make sure our sales process is being followed. Just like when I was a kid playing football we use a recording (game film) and a report card to see if we did what we were trained to do. Your team may be a little hesitant at first, so be sure and remember to use the recordings, report card and the joint calls as an opportunity to teach, not discipline. By using the recordings to focus on ways to improve your team’s performance, their effectiveness and closing ratio will improve quickly.

We all are looking for a magic pill to lose weight, a new product that will make our business an overnight success, or some competitive advantage that will push us over the top, but the research shows that less than five percent of companies document their plans and processes. Research also shows that only five percent of Americans reach retirement financially independent. I am not a rocket scientist to see this correlation. Become part of the five percent. Document and implement your sales process today, and your golden years will truly be golden. It’s not fancy, it’s fundamental and we all know that the best teams win by executing the fundamentals well – not trying trick plays.

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