Sales Process 2.0 – The Need for a New Approach

I grew up at Xerox and learned early on that the key to sustainable sales success was the ability to define and execute a repeatable sales process. This lesson was reinforced during stints at Gartner and Symantec. Turns out there is empirical evidence that shows that sales organizations that excel at sales process enablement outperform those that don’t by a considerable margin across key performance indicators like win rates and quota attainment.

But here’s the thing, sales process as we know it is fundamentally changing or, at least, needs to.?There are a number of technological, economic, societal, and organizational forces that are radically changing seller and buyer behavior that require us to reconsider the basic tenets of sales process.

Let’s start with the buyer.?Thanks to the digital age, today’s buyer can research, select, and purchase with little or no need for salesperson intervention. They engage in ‘social buying’ placing substantially more value on peer reviews than pitches. And a tighter economic environment means that all purchase decisions are more closely scrutinized and require absolute consensus across an ever larger number of stakeholders. And, sadly, seller behavior has dampened buyer perception of the average salesperson – decision-makers told Forrester that 9 out of 10 conversations with salespeople are a waste of time.

Now the seller.?The arrival of the?Millennials?into the workforce requires a new approach.?Every generation has its own attitudes, values, and even quirks. Research from the Pew Research Center shows that Gen Yers are?technology-savvy and highly ambitious. They want to feel empowered, have involvement in decision-making, and have opportunities for rapid professional growth. They also place a greater value on work-life balance. In the workplace, employees have new expectations. Daniel Pink’s excellent book “Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” nicely summarizes what the modern workforce requires for optimal engagement: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Today’s knowledge worker demands authenticity, transparency, and collaboration from their peers and managers.

Taken together, these trends have impacted the way we need to lead our sales organizations and by default how we think about and implement sales process.?In this age of the empowered buyer, a more social workforce, and a requisite more collaborative/collegial?management style, the very nature of sales process needs to evolve. Let’s compare and contrast the attitudes and behaviors associated with old school versus new age sales process.

Related Blog Post