Jun 252012

Sales Process – Myth or Best Practice

Sales Process: Monday, June 25, 2012, Via EvolutiResearch


Tom McDonald’s Comments:

What follows is a comprehensive and detailed article written about the best practices, sales process. It’s definitely worth the read.

Here is my take on the best practices sales process:

One size does not fit all

A  customized, web based, interactive,  sales presentation tool set should be modeled after your prospects buying process, reflecting your historical, best practices, business reason to buy (Where appropriate: ROI/TCO, et.al.)

Relevant, defined, sales metrics should be identified, bench marked and monitored to ensure ongoing sales success

Without a proven road map on how prospects have historically purchased and a solid, historical business reason to buy your products and/or services, your reps will present and inform prospects inconsistently. This leads to inconsistent sales results.

I completely agree with these three dependencies taken directly from the article, below:

“Clearly the success of this approach rests on three dependencies.

Firstly, it depends on the effectiveness of the method used to establish the most effective sales process.

Secondly, that it is possible to establish a common and repeatable set of sales steps that will maximise performance.

Finally, that salespeople will apply the process.”



Many sales leaders consider the sales process to be one of the essentials of modern selling best practice. It has become central in B to B sales automation systems, pipeline management and sales forecasting. 

This article challenges this status by questioning both the logic and research supporting the concept. The conclusion is that rather than adding value the sales process blinds sales leaders from ways that really enhance sales performance.   

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Robert Verganti explains how myths held within organisation are barriers to innovation and ultimately to performance[i]. He says myths effectively hypnotise the organisation into using the wrong people, behaviours and processes.  Selling is not immune to this hypnosis and nowhere more so than the ‘sales process’.  This would not be such a big deal if it were not for the fact that many sales managers consider the sales process to be an essential element in maximising performance, managing the sales pipeline and accurate forecasting.

In the eyes of some sales experts the sales process has risen to a non-negotiable status within selling practice. Yet when viewed from a fresh perspective, not coloured by conventional thinking, the sales process and the studies that support it are highly questionable. It is not so much that deploying the process will do harm, it is more that doing so blinds the organisation from applying practices that will really enhance performance.

Accepting that some may rightly consider the sales process to be broader, within this article it is the more common definition that is of interest, which is the predefined steps a sales person is expected to progress through when making a sale.

It is not unusual for people to assume that the sales process is a relatively new concept. In fact the idea of directing sales people to follow a sales process or steps goes back a number of years. I personally experienced a sales process, very similar to that which many consider to be best practice today, in Xerox in the mid 1970’s[ii].  The idea goes back much further, to at least the start of the last century, when NCR’s John H. Patterson expected his sales people to apply a common sales process, steps in the sale, based on research using Taylor’s Scientific Management[iii].

sales process




To Discuss how these Solutions will add value for you, your organization and/or your clients, Affinity/Resale Opportunities, and/or Collaborative Efforts, Please Contact:

Tom McDonald, tsm@centurytel.net; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752

sales process, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC