Sales Engine, Part 2: The Process

Monday, March 30, 2020

The previous blog post outlined the seven basic selling steps, thus inferring the sales engine structure that should be established to execute of them. What should be clear is that selling doesn’t simply end with the close of one deal. It is a continuous process that includes flawlessly executing the delivery of the solution in anticipation of the next sale. The following expands on those steps with specific descriptions of what activities and processes should take place for each one and how they differ from each other.

1) Lead Development

Lead generation takes many different forms, from the proverbial “dialing for dollars” approach to cold calls to email campaigns and the like. However, regardless of the technique used to generate leads, you need people to do so, at least to set it up as there are now plenty of automated tools that can be programmed to periodically reach out digitally.

2) Lead Qualification

This activity requires the establishment of certain criteria applied to who is a potential customer. In other words, identifying your target audience, or the “personas” of your most likely customers. These could include industry, function, geography, title, and more, all designed to focus in on your most likely leads. Tasks involved here typically include some interaction, telephonic or electronic, with the prospect asking and answering questions. The goal is to set bona fide appointments to hand off to a more senior person.

3) Business Close

This task begins the establishment of a real, and hopefully long-term, relationship with the prospect by providing demonstrations, engaging in discovery conversations, writing and submitting proposals, walking through next steps and, of course, closing the deal.


4) Project Implementation

At this point, a project has been identified wherein your firm is responsible for delivering on the promise your offer provided in your proposal. As such, a strong project management process must be in place to kick off the project and manage it to completion. This might include gathering relevant information, designing materials, training internal customers, facilitating sessions, and a host of other activities required to keep the project on budget and time.

5) Customer Management

At this point in the sales process, you should be engaged in keeping your customers satisfied with what you have provided them. This activity includes periodic pulse checks on how they are doing, particularly if your service involves turning over most of the implementation follow-up to the customer. In these cases, you may not be on-site often to naturally engage the client, in which case these periodic check-ins are critical to managing unforeseen problems, minimizing escalations, coordinating training, mitigating churn risk, and orchestrating customer business reviews.


6) Customer Retention

Part and parcel to managing the customer is leveraging that relationship to be in a position to control delinquencies as well as facilitate upselling and cross-selling opportunities. By staying in touch with the customer you are in a more advantageous position to ask and drive for referrals to expand your business as well as secure references and testimonials.

7) Business Growth

Of course, without growth—or at a minimum, maintenance—the business is not likely to flourish. Growth doesn’t necessarily include revenue although this is the ultimate goal in most cases. Growth could simply involve improving services and systems that make it easier for the customer to do business with you.

How does your sales engine structure mimic these seven elements? Where are your greatest strengths? What are you most impactful gaps and how do you plan to close them?

About the Author

Steve Cohen is founder and principal of the Strategic Leadership Collaborative, a private consulting practice focused on business strategy and development. A 40+ year veteran of the talent development industry, largely on the supplier side, he has demonstrated a proven track record for building equity by growing top and bottom-line performance for eight different consulting enterprises in the education and training industry he has either founded and/or led. He has been called on to consult with numerous firms needing strategic planning guidance, business coaching, and board advisory services.

His latest book is The Complete Guide to Building and Growing a Talent Development Firm.

He can be reached at: 952.942.7291 or [email protected] or at his website:

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