Why sales processes don’t work anymore

Anyone working in sales knows how little pleasure sales reps get from using their traditional CRM.  One key frustration we hear from sales reps is that prospects are unwilling to politely follow a defined process at all. Prospects want to map their own path and resist the “sales production line”. Prospects aren’t car bodies, shunted along a factory floor – is it time for sales processes to get personal?

Very few sales reps see the personal value in sales processes, can’t really blame them. There is a vast GAP between the theoretical sales processes dreamt up in a spreadsheet, sharing little in common with the day-to-day reality for most sales reps. Sales processes don’t work anymore, becoming more of a burden than a benefit.

This impact has been compounded over the last 10-15 years as a result of the Internet as a nearly unlimited source of information and insight.

Align yourself with the customer

15 years ago a sales rep could engage a customer early in their purchasing decision process providing the necessary information. The sales rep had the benefit of being the primary source of information to support their decision making.

That meant that the sales reps could also control the interaction with each individual customer driving the conversation to align with their company’s internal sales process.

Adapt to agile sales

It worked pretty much as a car production line in the factory. You did a certain number of steps, performing them in a predefined order, the customer usually fell into line.

What has happened in the last 15 years is a shift in power, from sales reps to the customer. This is true for both B2C and B2B. The customer does their own research, engaging the sales rep when 75% of their purchasing journey has already been taken.

This shift in control over the buyer’s journey in favour of the customer gives the sales reps little choice but to fall into line with a better-informed buyer. The prospect has set out on their individual buyer’s journey with a clearer idea of their needs and wants.

Inaccurate forecasts and poor customer support

Sales need to be more dynamic, agile even, reps no longer have 100% control over their customers. The old way of working simply doesn’t apply anymore. Linear sales processes, originating from factory production lines must be re-thought. Its time for a change.

As a sales rep, you must align yourself to provide value that supports the individual customer.

Working with processes designed by Henry Ford over 100 years ago have no role in modern sales

Processes completed as independent activities, regardless of the order allow sales reps to better align themselves with their customer. There is no benefit in doggedly pursuing linear processes if that is not what the customer needs from them.

Sales reps operate in this way already. They want the deal – so of course, they must adapt – however for a process to scalable it must become standardised rather than managed by the exception.

So how to update the CRM, keep the boss happy when your CRM is constructed like the Model T Ford in Detroit in the early 19th Century?

The outcome causes friction in sales meetings, across the world:

  • Hugely inaccurate sales forecasts
  • Poor visibility of completed actions
  • Lack of clarity in knowing what to do next

Independent activities

The solution is to start seeing sales processes as a combination of independent activities, completed before closing a deal. However, the order is no longer under the sales reps command. Providing sales reps with the option to completely align with each specific customer’s purchase process, reducing friction both internally and externally.

Sales should be agile, creating the best possible customer experience

Imagine producing accurate sales forecasts with likeliness based on facts, not guesswork.