Process? We don’t need no stinkin’ process.

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Everything that humans do is process. Everything.

Process is “a systematic series of actions directed to some end.” That pretty much describes everything you do, from brushing your teeth to designing a jumbo jet. The only time we escape process is when we’re asleep.

So why do many sales people react with, “Process? We don’t need no stinkin’ process.” (Apologies to Humphrey Bogart and Gene Wilder.) But you do. And here is the most important process you need: choosing the sales opportunity you’re going to work on right now.

That’s more important than your process for closing the sale because if you’re working the wrong opportunity, winning doesn’t matter. Neither does losing, which you will do more often than your manager will like.

That’s more important than your process for prospecting a lead because when that lead becomes an opportunity, chances are you’ll screw it up if you don’t get it into its proper priority in your pipeline.

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Deal Me In – Prioritizing in Cards & Sales

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One of the most significant daily challenges to a sales professional is deciding which opportunity to work on today. To do this, you have to get your prioritization right, and that requires each opportunity to be valued.

This is even more critical when you are working many opportunities at one time and when the opportunities are at different points in the sales cycle and have different levels of importance based on strategy, revenue, product, etc. This exercise requires a significant time investment, and getting it right is crucial to focusing your effort where it will have the best payoff.

Putting a value on an opportunity is tricky. Our OPM methodology helps by defining two distinct types of value. An intrinsic value depends only on the probability of winning the deal and the position you are in the sales cycle. External value refers to the factors we mentioned earlier such as potential revenue, strategic importance, product relevance and others.

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20 Reasons to Share Your Sales Process With Your ComputerReason No. 3 – Singing from the same page.

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The common way for sales teams to get automated is through a CRM system. Early adopters of CRM have managed to iron out the flaws and have settled down to life with CRM doing a pretty good job of assisting with customer experience—making it as good as you can.

Salespeople and sales managers use the CRM system. If the CRM is implemented correctly, they have to. Sales, however, is the last bastion to get into the CRM fold and sometimes only with kicking and screaming. There are reasons for that which are a fairly common topic in my posts. Let’s think a bit about what the sales manager wants out of computer involvement with his team and his processes.

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20 Reasons to Share Your Sales Process with Your ComputerReason No. 2 – Because It’s the Best List Manager on the Planet!

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You can’t get lists out of your life – we depend on them. Before writing this I did a bit of research on the history of lists. Belle Beth Cooper in her wonderful article on lists says, “We pack all the madness and ambiguity of life into a structured form of writing. In short, making lists is a great way to increase our overall happiness and feel less overwhelmed.”

Beth’s was the first piece I turned up in my research and it drew me in so deeply I didn’t bother to go any further. She has some very excellent tips for those of us that are always searching for ways to pack more productive time into our lives. But, back to the post—I’m interested in the list as it applies to salespeople.

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20 Reasons to Share Your Sales Process with Your ComputerReason No 1 – Because It’s Cool

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Well right off the bat, computers are cool. Every salesperson has one in some form or another. The choice is not limited to laptops or desktops—might as well include smartphones, tablets, phablets, ultrabooks, chromebooks and, of course, pads and pods. And now there’s wearable computing—soon salespeople will be looking through Google Glass, and reading their schedule on their iWatch, Gear 2, and so on (and on).

Technology has proven valuable for salespeople, assisting in a zillion different ways to do things better, faster, and overall, just making things easier. The effect is, or should be, more sales. But all of this is not that new— can it be cool? Cool easily becomes a passing fad.

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6 Questions to Ask Anyone Who Says Their Sales Cycle Doesn’t End

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When we are talking about the sales process, we ask for the best guess of the sales person as to when the sales opportunity will close. Occasionally, we hear back “I don’t have an end date.” There are legitimate cases where this is true, but more often than not, it’s not only wrong, but is also dangerous. Forecasting will be difficult if not impossible, and the sales people won’t be following a process.

Here are some questions to think about when evaluating if you actually have an end date to your sales opportunity.

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The Language and Method of Selling

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Salespeople usually get trained by “learning on the job.” Depending on who’s teaching, that may be OK, but it often leads to nonconformity of understanding from one salesperson to another. It’s surprising how many salespeople have little in common with their fellows, as far as understanding the fundamental language of the sale.

Wide adoption of computer technology by sales departments only heightens the problem. If a few hundred salespeople are linked together through a common CRM network, they have to understand the common thread of the sales method that is hopefully embedded in it. If not, they will use it in a myriad of different ways, which usually renders the CRM system useless. CRM is a wonderful way to ingrain sales methodology, but it needs a carefully chosen sales method to start off with.

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Sell On Value, But Which Value?

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Selling on price seems like the easy way out in sales. If you have no other arguments, just drop the price until you get the order. But unless the ability to produce at lower cost than anybody else is the company’s primary strength, this behavior doesn’t lead to long-term success. Instead, it will cause unnecessary price wars and probably economical failure sooner or later. This is why more and more companies tell their sales people to sell on value and not on price.

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The Sales Process – “All the World’s a Stage …” (Part Two)

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Final Curtain

Here are some more thoughts on the metaphor of the stage play versus the sales transaction that began in this post. As in that post, the italics are taken from my original description of the SalesWays Opportunity Portfolio Management training course.

Remember, the reason that we get precise in the language of sales is to define an exact model of the sales process that the computer can understand. The advantage of having consistent understanding of the terms across the sales team is that it builds transparency which in turn leads to efficiency. Efficiency is one of those two E words (Effectiveness being the other) that you hope will ensue when you implement CRM or SFA. This post ends with the “Final Curtain” and will, indeed, mark the end of this two part thread on the stage metaphor. I promise.

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Prioritize Sales Opportunities to Maximize Results

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ASPEC - OPM Planner - Priority

Priority is an important concept in selling. It helps us to determine how we should organize our work on the opportunities in our portfolios in order to maximize their value, and maximize our income. Although the idea is intuitive in theory, it is not always obvious in the reality and pressures of dealing with real sales opportunities in real time.

There are many ways to prioritize opportunities. We may prioritize based on order potential (size), the strategic nature of the prospect, or our estimated probability of success, for example.  Although these are acceptable practices, they may not guarantee we will maximize the results of our efforts.  A large potential order with very limited likelihood of success may prove to be a time sink that prevents us from acting on opportunities that might result in a larger payoff.

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