Three Sales Process Design Flaws to Avoid

By Neil Smith

For a sales rep the acronym ‘ABC’ extends way beyond being the first three letters of the alphabet. Alec Baldwin during a heated speech in Glengarry Glen Ross put it across brilliantly when he told the audience ABC stands for “always be closing.” (In case you have missed the famous rant from the movie, check out

Yet there is so much more to sales as a process than just closing a deal. In fact a closing based approach often leads to a view that’s opposite to the customer-centric one which we expect our salespeople to take. A key to sorting this out is by figuring ‘where does your sales process begin?’ As an example for some industries (for example group insurance) the sales process should begin well before the firm receives an RFP (request for proposal). The overall idea is that a well defined sales process benefits all stakeholders in the sales cycle.

However having said that, often organizations struggle with defining their sales processes. In fact one of the first tasks we undertake while assisting our clients is the formulation of a sales process. Based on our experience we feel the following areas have to be avoided while designing a sales process.

  • Lack of ROI for the sales reps – “why should I follow it?” is one of the first questions to be raised by your sales team when they are informed about your sales process. You need to sell your sales process to your team by clearly highlighting the value brought by the process that will lead to results
  • Complicated maze of metrics – a common challenge in sales process design is to strike the right balance between completeness vs. ease of use
  • Disagreements on terminology and endpoints – often sales leaders use terms like “prospect”, “opportunity” and “suspect” interchangeably. You need to have a common vocabulary of classifying customers as they move along your sales cycle

In the end as with all kinds of change, relying on technology as the sole driver for adoption of a new sales process might not work. A supplement of incentives, right communication and strong leadership focus would help your drill down the process to grassroots.

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