November 1, 2011

Defining the Sales Process

Since we've been living on this big marble, the sales process has been a part of everyday life. There is no escaping it and very little moves forward without it.

Centuries ago, the currency may have been a bag of rice for a piece of furniture but the barter system is alive and well. The media may have been a local market or horse-drawn carriage, but business clicked along.

We tend to get caught up in gadgets and interfaces and think they are what drives business. As much as they may accelerate the process, give us the chance to find similar thinking people around the globe and open doors that would never otherwise be opened, the exchange of services or products for currency hasn’t differed.

Know What You're Selling

When I was a kid, my buddy Mark’s dad worked as a life insurance salesman. As he put it, he sold “peace of mind” to families. Now you can build a client list through customer relationship management (CRM), database marketing and social media but the offer hasn't changed all these years later. If you sell insurance, the theory stands that you are selling peace of mind.

It’s easy to point to an exchange of money for a product as a “sale”. But what has to happen before that exchange occurs? Does the company not have to let potential customers know about the product? Isn’t there a network or supply chain required?

Honing the Offer

I was having dinner a few weeks ago with a client who challenged the notion that we are all in sales because her definition is the point of exchange and not the myriad other things that need to happen to get there. Her 15 years as a commission sales rep was her experience in sales. She went through the process of finding prospects, calling on them, showing the benefits of what she offered and ending with a monetary exchange. Her point is that as much as we all 'sell ourselves', someone has to close the deal. My contention is that a lot has to happen to help that deal close from people throughout the enterprise.

I often see product and creative people scoff at sales people as a necessary evil. But when discussions of chickens and eggs come up, the tie breaker is that we are all in the product AND sales business because neither can survive without the other. What I like to do is help business owners and managers work ON their business when most of the effort is working IN their business. And I sell every day.

Are You in Sales?

Kneale Mann

image credit: mspmentor
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