One of my pet-peeves is this process thinking mentality that we can apply a tool like value-stream mapping and create a more efficient sales process, by getting rid of unnecessary steps and action. People are always looking for a template that they can follow and ZaZoom, sales increases. Though there is some truth that we can increase efficiencies by mapping some defined process, I hardly think that is really what we desire in our sales process.
Sales is an inefficient process. Always has been and always will be. As Dan Pink explains, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, so why don’t we leave it be that way. Humans are not wired to interact in a linear fashion. We are even finding out that though hierarchy needs to exist in organizations that there is another component that also needs to exist. A more chaotic component.
Our organizations need hierarchy structure to get things done. It is an efficient way to disseminate the work and make decisions. However, in many sales opportunities we are put in the position that we must extend beyond features and benefits. Excuse the redundancy, but sales must be the ones to create opportunities (Think Challenger Sale: Lean Salespeople are Challengers, not Problem Solvers).
Some sales opportunities can use a step by step process. It requires a market that operates in a very similar way across a wide spectrum and has a defined collection of information. You can organize information with little interpretation and pass it on to your sales people to manage and benefit from this “perfect data”. I apologize for my limited viewpoint, but I am having trouble finding markets like that anymore.
Our information and data are anything but linear, it is all being interpreted. Reality demands that we cut across boundaries and make things happen. Agility and speed of acting on this information is imperative. To get things done we short-circuit that hierarchy and use our existing tribal knowledge. When doing that we organize and operate in clusters not hierarchies.
Does this mean chaos exist with sales people? Not at all, it means that though we have a streamline efficient process for sales, we also blend in that chaotic structure as an underlying process that can be organized and defined within our sales unit. It should not be seen as something that is wrong and penalized for not following the process. Rather it should be governed by our understanding of how to develop new opportunities and the reaction to them.
These chaotic structures should be seen as clusters creating collaborative atmosphere. This seldom insures the best answer gets enacted. However, it does insure a better possibility that something does get enacted. It takes away that paralysis from trying to force fit our product/service. No longer are we trying to gather buy-in to get something accomplished, but rather change is being driven from a sense of joint accountability. The best action taken becomes the best implementable action. It is a different way of enacting change. It is a different way of working with a customer. Could it work for you?
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