What is the process by which sales actually occur in your company? I’m not talking about a sales system, such as Action Selling, which should be the basis for your sales training courses and sales coaching initiatives, identifying critical sales skills and providing your reps with an organized approach to every sales call. No, I’m talking about the key steps or “milestones” that lead from an initial call on a prospect to a completed sale. If you mapped those milestones for your company, what would the map typically look like?
Most companies can’t say. If they claim they can, they almost always identify the wrong milestones–or too many of them.
Truth be told, most sales organizations fly by the seat of their pants. That’s a shame, because a firm understanding of your company’s sales process helps you do things like figure out what’s in the sales pipeline, forecast revenue, and determine how well your current marketing efforts are working.
What’s the accuracy of your sales-pipeline forecast at any given time? With the wrong milestones, projections are little more than wild guesses. And the sales training programs most companies adopt provide little or no help in this area.
Action Selling’s sales training courses and sales coaching interventions teach that every sales call must begin with a Commitment Objective. This is an agreement the salesperson wants from the customer to take some action—a “next step”—that will keep things moving toward a sale. In business-to-business sales, the next step might be a meeting for a deeper needs analysis, or an introduction to a higher-level decision maker, or a full-scale demonstration of the product—whatever is logically necessary to keep the momentum going.
Each of those next steps is what we call a milestone. You will find that certain definable milestones always appear along your company’s path to a sale.
The Milestones ARE the Process
When you document those milestones, your sales process suddenly becomes crystal clear. Why? Because the milestones are the process. The real process. The one that shows you exactly how sales actually happen for your company.
Now you can get much more solid answers to vital questions. What’s the status of the sales pipeline, for any particular salesperson or for the sales force as a whole? Just look at which milestones have been completed and which haven’t. What is your revenue projection for next quarter? Look at the milestones.
There is nothing mysterious about a sales process based on milestones. It can be easily explained to others in the company. This means that sales training programs (at least in abbreviated form) can be extended beyond the sales force to everyone in the company, providing a common language and a common understanding for people in sales, marketing, operations, service, and other functions.
What needs to happen next if we want to make a sale? Everybody in the company knows. Because the milestones are the process.
For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.
About Duane Sparks
Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).
Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).