A Sneak Peak from Frank Hurtte's new book
Target Driven Sales
I believe in a sales process.
I believe in process – most people do. We apply process to our accounting, accounts payable/receivable, warehouse operations, logistics and almost every other aspect of our business. But for many reasons, we shy from putting a process into our sales operation.
In preparation for this book, we surveyed hundreds of manufacturers, wholesale channel partners, dealers, rep agencies and the cadre of middle people involved in selling products. We discovered a couple of points:
1) The majority of sales managers believe they need a process
2) The biggest drawback in implementing the process comes from the sales team
To borrow from the vernacular of my youth, “We have a problem here Houston.”
The old saw, “he’s a natural born salesman” seems to have more lives than a Brooklyn alley cat. Hundreds of compelling reasons to apply a process are found, yet somehow the very people responsible for sales improvement fear forced implementation – or at least in most situations. During my quest for information around the targeting process, I probed the exceptions.
One exception is Betty Sullivan of Architectural Ceramics. Betty runs the leading distributor of tile-based floor coverings in the Middle-Atlantic states. When I talked to her about process and targeting, she lit up like a thousand Roman Candles on a Fourth of July night. Betty’s company has applied a process to not only targeting but the complete follow along selling process. They have built two distinct practices – one for retail business and a second for commercial sales. The retail selling process consists of 8 individual steps.
The 8-step process is carefully charted. Salespeople are trained and measured against their ability to move an account into the next step. Ms. Sullivan reports when salespeople step outside the process – their results suffer. Coaching, encouragement and enforcement follow to bring the salesperson back inline with the process. And in extreme cases, those unwilling to follow the process are invited to leave.
I asked Betty for a couple of parting thoughts. She said, “I can take average people and outperform the cowboys of our industry. Cowboys want to go it alone. They want to go out chasing stray orders. They have big egos and want to be big shots. But my team will outperform them – anytime.”
Targeting is the first step in building a process.
As we will explore in Chapter One, targeting builds efficiency. Simply stated most sales people don’t have enough time. Most people working to change sales activity behavior hear, “Do you want me filling out forms, plugging in data or selling?” Hook up a lie detector, place their hands on a stack of Bibles and feed them pounds of sodium pentothal and 99% of the working sales types out there will attest they don’t have time for taking the first step in building a process.
Targeting provides sales teams with a short and unobtrusive first step in building the process. As we will demonstrate in later chapters, a few well placed activities will drive striking results. Information gathered stream-lines auxiliary functions. Information gathered eliminates false starts. Management finds tools for improved coaching. Ultimately a bit of the cloud of black magic is lifted from the matrix of activities around selling your product.