Why Most Sales Process Initiatives are DOA

“75% of solution selling efforts were considered failures after only three years.”
McKinsey & Company 2015

I thought it timely to write about this topic as we have recently run into so many financial services firms who are implementing a new sales process. Obviously, the goal in doing so for most firms is to enhance the experience their clients receive (by enhancing the effectiveness of their advisors) and/or ensure a consistent approach throughout their sales force.

I well recall my first role as a sales leader. I took over a decent sales organization, but one that lacked effectiveness, efficiency and profitability within the sales process. So I concluded that the first task that would be most impactful (and impressive!) was to establish a sales process. The resulting process was awesome. In fact, I still have the final document today. I was so impressed with myself and the team that worked with me. Our end-product – if implemented – would definitely ramp things up in terms of sales effectiveness.

But what a shock. It was never effectively implemented. While everyone agreed that it was the right process, our sales force basically ignored it.

I have since learned a lot from that time-consuming and expensive mistake and, as confirmed by the statistic above, I am not alone in making this mistake, which we at Greene Consulting see repeated time and time again throughout our industry.

Three Common Mistakes

The problem? From our experience, there are usually 3 key mistakes in the development and launch of a “new sales process”.

  1. The process is more about you rather than the prospect.

Most sales processes state what YOU want to accomplish and have no reflection of what the prospect is actually seeking.

  1. The process lacks defined minimum outcomes.

Most sales processes fail to establish clear, concrete criteria that provide clarity around successful progression in the sales process. Without defined minimum outcomes (also refereed to as exit criteria) for each stage in the sales process, you will never have a true picture of what is actually occurring in the field.

For the remainder of this blog, I will focus on Mistake #3, which is:

  1. A Process without Purpose.

A sales process should always be fundamentally grounded in the mission and purpose of the organization. If the sales process is built around that context first, then the rollout and all related training should be consistently aligned and related to that purpose.


“A Process Without Purpose”

Selling with Noble Purpose

You can bet that at least your veteran sales people have gone through a sales process rollout before in their careers. While they might seem like they are engaged, if not positioned well they are typically thinking, “Nice that you have done all this work and it looks great, but I am going to continue doing what has worked for me.” Without defining your organizational Purpose or the Promise you make to clients, a sales process is perceived by your sales force as simply that - a “functional, administrative process.” The Purpose defines the context for your process and the sales process should be directly tied to how we as an organization will consistently deliver on our defined “Purpose.” (For more about how Purpose should be a central aspect to your sales approach, I highly recommend the book, Selling with Noble Purpose. It is well worth the read.)

For the clients we have worked with, focusing on this one simple but HUGE part of the equation changed the game and caught the attention of the sales force. With a Promise and a client-centric strategy driving the process, the sales force can more emotionally engage and better understand why you are rolling out a new sales process, rather than viewing it as just another management initiative. And they now better understand the various steps of the process and likely will be a part of making the process even more effective!

I can go on for pages with our experience here. But I won’t. Just suffice it to say that this one simple (though not easy) component can completely transform and bring to life your sales process initiative and, more importantly, the sales experience offered to your prospects and clients.

For more detailed insight on this and how to ensure the effective implementation of a new sales process, call Greene Consulting at 404-324-4600, or email me with your thoughts on this blog. We welcome your perspectives, ideas and inputs.