Our research team have given sales process a make-over. The objective is to make it more interesting, and most of all more relevant to the success of your sales team.
The results will change the way you look at sales performance – they will also help you to get your team to to apply new sales strategies and skills in order to boost success.
Type ‘sales process’ or ‘sales performance’ in to Google and here is what you will find – a lot of diagrams and charts of different shapes, sizes and colours (shown above).
There is one thing in common however – they are unlikely to capture the imagination of the salesperson. We would even go so far as to say that they are boring and dull.
Little wonder then that it is difficult to get salespeople excited about sales process. Sales process as it is normally presented is not very interesting, or memorable. That goes a long way to explain why managers struggle to ensure that their sales process is followed by their sales teams.
The problem is that salespeople don’t think in terms of straight lines and square boxes – they see their job as being more complex than that.
Re-Thinking Sales Process
Like many others we believe that sales process needs a make-over – one that ensures accessibility and relevance for salespeople whose sole concern is earning commissions and meeting their number.
To be relevant sales process and performance needs to be about; ‘winning’, ‘speed’ ‘competition’ and ‘skill’. It also has to speak directly to the ‘risks’ and ‘rewards’ for the salesperson. Over the past 4 years, we have been working with teams to change the way they think about sales process – we want sellers to see process performance as inimitable to their success.
Re-Inventing The Sales Cycle
At the core of sales process is the notion of the sales cycle – the set of steps that are repeated to generate a sale. But, the word ‘cycle’ does not doesn’t communicate high speed (that is unless it is the spin cycle on a washing machine). It does not communicate high energy, or high performance either. That is why we have replaced the sales cycle with The Sales Circuit™.
The Sales Circuit™ – “You could not find anything that is more closely associated with ‘winning’, ‘skill’, ‘speed’ and those other factors vital to modern sales success”.
Re-framing Sales Performance
In doing this we are re-framing sales process and performance. That means leveraging some of the positive associations of formula one racing to generate new thinking and new ideas about sales. It also means breaking free of old patterns of thinking and in particular of some negative attitudes and behaviors often associated with sales process development/improvement.
The reasons to ‘re-frame’ sales process are to de-personalize, de-politicize and to de-jargon the issue. But that is not all. It is an approach that gets sellers thinking outside the box about the steps in their success.
The approach is aimed at making the subject more interesting, more visual and more memorable. Most important of all it is about finding new solutions to old problems and generating new ideas that can have a impact on results.
Sales Meets The Race Circuit
To make the transformation in terms of sales process we are going to draw parallels between the sales cycle and the race circuit.
The racing circuit and the sales cycle have a lot in common. The most obvious is that the objective is to get the car, or the deal across the line in the fastest time possible.
It all happens against the clock – in the race it is the official time keeper’s clock that matters, for the seller it is the end of the quarter or the financial year. And in both cases there are competitors hot on the heels.
For both the sales cycle and the race circuit the length is important, only that for the seller it is measured in days and for the driver it is measured in kilometers. Also important is the number of critical steps or points from start to finish.
The figures shown here (above and below) are the stats for the typical complex B2B sales process based on best practice research, as well as the profile of the most prestigious and perhaps most demanding race circuit in Formula One – Monte Carlo. (Find why the Monte Carlo Circuit is the ideal metaphor for the challenges of modern selling by clicking here)
We will examine the critical points shortly, but just to say for now that these are the part of the cycle or the circuit that can win, or lose the race. They require particular skills and techniques on the part of the driver and indeed the seller. On the race circuit they typically correspond to curves and corners on the track – places where the driver is going to need to break and change gear.
The Sales Circuit™ Emerges
So let’s merge the sales cycle with the race circuit. The result is a powerful new metaphor and model for sales process and performance – the sales circuit. The Sales Circuit™ is like the sales cycle, but faster, more exciting and more demanding. That in oour experience makes it more relevant to sales teams.
Let’s recap on the central idea once again before looking at the race circuit in detail. The ‘sales circuit’ is all about performance – but for too many salespeople the sales process is about control. The sales circuit recognizes the importance of process, but not ahead of the confidence, enthusiasm and skill of the seller.
It’s About Performance
‘You follow a process. But you perform on a circuit’. So, we talk about the seller performing on the sales circuit. That is a small change in language but it can have an important impact on attitudes and behaviours. So, with our focus clearly on performance lets examine The Sales Circuit™ in detail.
‘The Sales Circuit™’ is all about performance, while for many salespeople the sales process is about control. The Sales Circuit™ recognizes the importance of process, but not ahead of the confidence, enthusiasm and skill of the seller. At it’s core the circuit is about empowering the salesperson and the sales team to perform to the maximum.