Yesterday, I attended a presentation about Sales Performance International's (SPI new “Solution Selling 2.0” program.
The one and only sales process does no longer exist
From what I heard, I think “Solution Selling 2.0” might help sellers to be more effective to help customers in their buying process. I found most interesting that the company, probably owning the most process oriented commercial sales methodology, had to concede that in today’s world, using one and only one sales process is no longer effective. I could not help to chuckle when I heard this. I had already written about the need for a multiple process approach in 2008.
Since then, others, such as McKinsey have shown that the customer buying process are different in function of customer loyalty (McKinsey Quarterly 2009 No2.) Also for quite some years, CSO insights consider that best in class companies have a dynamic sales process. Which to me indicates that also they consider that a one size fits all approach is no longer effective.
Implications for Sales Management
The need for several sales processes increases complexity for sales management. It is no longer sufficient to inspect that the sales process is followed. Managers now need to be able to inspect that the most suitable process is followed. While the design of these different processes can be delegated (e.g. to sales operations), managers must be able to judge which process is the most suitable for a given buying situation. Universally applied criteria for the selection of the right process must be defined and applied.
The need for an outside-in view
To come to meaningful selection criteria for the appropriate sales process, a mapping to the customers buying process is fundamental. It is relatively simple to see if the customer buying process is considered in the sales process. I usually look how sales stages (the top level definition of a sales process) are labeled in the CRM system. If you do not find any terms reflecting the customer situation, then there is a high likelihood that your sales process is internally focused. You would be surprised how often you still find this situation in running CRM implementations. If you find yourself in this situation an effort must be made to understand the customer’s buying behavior (outside in) before even contemplating to move to a set of various sales processes.
Call for action
Moving towards various sales processes to be more responsive to different customer situations is a change management process. Sales Leaders and Mangers are the first targets who must adhere to this change. Are you as leaders and managers willing to make this effort?