“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.” So said management theorist W. Edwards Deming, the world’s leading expert on quality improvement.

All work involves a process. That includes sales work. Yet most sales training programs proceed as if improving sales results were a project, not a process. When they do this, they are dead wrong.

Sales training without a process is a problem, not a solution.

Leading-edge thinking about quality improvement in any field of work focuses on process improvement. ISO 9000, Six Sigma and other change-management programs zero in on process improvement in order to achieve lasting advances in quality.

What is the difference between a process and a project? Process management involves planning, monitoring, and improving permanent repetitive actions. By contrast, project management is a temporary endeavor undertaken to produce a particular result.

For example, suppose you define the problem like this: Your sales team lacks the ability to negotiate price. This is, indeed, an issue for many sales organizations, and if it’s the only thing your team needs, then a sales-training module on price negotiation might be the answer.

But let’s just suppose that price negotiation is a symptom of a larger problem. Actually, I’d say there’s something like a 100-percent chance of that because trouble with price negotiation is always a symptom. Selling your price has to do with how well you, the salesperson, have sold yourself, sold the value your company brings to the table, and positioned your product as a unique solution to the customer’s needs…