ATD Blog

Leverage the Sales Process

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Salespeople work hard. They try to be better. Do things faster. Make more calls. Get more appointments. Feed the sales funnel. Fill the pipeline. Drive to close. Drive to open. Drive. Drive. Drive.

What can they do in order to accomplish more with less? Is 'more' even the right focus? Do they really have 'less'? More what? Less what?

The answer is not continually beat up a sales team for the reasons why a sale wasn't booked. What's important is to understand how you can help the salesperson with their selling style and their target's buying style; and how they can integrate.

What does it take to make a sale lately?

Salespeople focus on the "Sales Cycle." The problem with the traditional definition of the 'Sales Cycle' is that it is focused on the sales team and not on your prospect first. More recently, the focus has shifted to the 'Buying Cycle' and learning how to synchronize it to gain a win-win relationship. To sell successfully in today's market, your focus must be on the integration of the 'Sales Cycle' and the 'Buying Cycle' into an overall sales system based on trust, ethics, win-win, and driving towards a transaction. This "commerce cycle" is rooted in the buying and selling relationship, with special emphasis on value - the value that both the buyer and seller each bring to the relationship.

Driving your sales means to understand "What" the sales profession is. To do that, salespeople must continuously improve and seek the help of books, tapes, seminars, and others. Find the "what" as it pertains to you - the truth is out there.

What is selling? Do you know how buying and selling integrate and how to help salespeople within that relationship? Just like the laws of nature, for every action there is an opposite reaction. The same holds true for sales.


To effectively sell, help the sales person realize:

1) the buyer(s) and his/her buying cycle(s),

2) their sales cycle, and

3) how and when the two intersect.


Accomplishing these three points will 'reduces the sales cycle.' Understand the buyer(s), and the buying cycle(s), and the salesperson will understand the commerce cycle - then he or she will be widely successful.

All sales professionals, no matter their functional area of expertise should be able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their selling abilities in their various markets. Having a "universally functional" understanding will help you attain higher levels of sales success. Various examples of universal functionality may include: solution selling methodologies, commodity selling methodologies, high volume selling methodologies, and methodologies used when selling a service.

It's a cluttered sales world out there, and you need to help develop a model that helps you better understand the balance of selling and buying in today's global economy. The model you develop must be rooted in an understanding of the seller's activities and the buyer's activities. Strive to make your model open and flexible to account for faster or slower sales cycles.

From the CEO to the front-line sales representative, the key is to develop an organizational understanding of the processes and framework of professional selling. Professional sales people are the revenue generating engines of any company. Yet few sales people are measured on standardized metrics of performance. Often, a "what works for you, won't work for anyone else" approach is taken when it comes to training and nurturing the professional sales person.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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