Reason #8 – Lack of a Defined Sales Process

Are you struggling to get some consistency to your sales results? Is it difficult to predict with any certainty when deals are going to close, or if they are? Are your revenue forecasts hit or miss?

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice gets lost (on her way somewhere) and has this famous exchange with a certain cat:

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

Alice: “I don’t much care where.”

The Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Years later, when giving directions to Joe Garagiola to his New Jersey home, which was accessible by two routes, Yogi Berra translated the Cat’s advice as follows: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

If you are a professional sales or business development executive, or (especially) if you have folks like that working for you, take a hard look at your sales process.

Is it simple to understand? Meaning, would anyone in the business intuitively ‘get’ what it is and how it works? Is it effective? Meaning, when it is followed consistently, are the results predictable? Is it repeatable? Meaning, when different people follow it, do they get the same type of result?

Starting with ‘here is a new lead,’ each step in the sales process must be clearly defined and documented, all the way to ‘Closed Won.’ What happens in each stage? Who is responsible for what? What information do you need to advance? What questions do you have to be able to answer? What happens if you can’t answer them?

Establish checkpoints for each part of the sales process – you cannot advance the sale unless you can safely ‘clear’ the check point. If you are in the qualification stage of the sale, and the checkpoint requires you to *personally* have met with the CISO (as an example), you can’t click ‘next’ until you actually do that. Simple, really, but often overlooked. And, for those of you still tracking pipelines in spreadsheets – yes, it has to be tied into a CRM solution.

Time spent getting the sales process right pays huge dividends. Kind of line making sure the foundation of your house is stable before you start framing. And, you won’t get lost on the way to revenue and end up where Yogi Berra used to live.