The Sales Process
• Introduction to the Sales Process...A sales process, also known as a sales tunnel or a sales funnel, is a systematic approach to selling a product or service. A growing body of published literature approaches the sales process from the point of view of an engineering discipline. Reasons for having a well thought-out sales process include seller and buyer risk management, standardized customer interaction in sales, and scalable revenue generation. A major advantage of approaching the subject of sales from a "process point of view" is that it offers a host of well-tested design and improvement tools from other successful disciplines and process-oriented industries. In turn, this offers potential for quicker progress. Quality expert Joseph Juran observed, "There should be no reason our familiar principles of quality and process engineering would not work in the sales process". A sales team's fundamental job is to move a greater number of larger deals through the sales process in less time. Specific steps or stages in a sales process vary from company to company but generally include the following elements: 1. Initial contact / Prospecting 2. Application of Initial Fit Criteria 3. Sales lead 4. Need identification 5. Qualified prospect 6. Proposal 7. Negotiation 8. Closing 9. Deal Transaction These eight steps of the sales process are more current/accurate compared to traditional sales. These are the typical steps taken, which are usually obtained in the same order, however can vary depending on the current situation. These steps of the sales process are given and explained in one of the most influential sales textbooks written by Gregory A. Rich, Rosann L. Spiro, and William J Stanton, entitled "Management of a Sales Force" Twelfth Edition. An effective sales process can be described through steps that walk a salesperson from meeting the prospect all the way through closing the sale. Often a bad sales experience can be analyzed and shown to have skipped key steps. This is where a good sales process mitigates risk for both buyer and seller. A solid sales process also has the dramatic impact of forecasting accuracy and predictability in revenue results. Many companies develop their own sales process; however, off the shelf versions are available from a number of companies in the sales performance improvement industry. A large number of these methods have been described by their promoters in books available to the public, primarily addressing tactics employed by an individual sales representative. These provide a customizable process and a set of electronic tools that can be freestanding or can be integrated if required with the company's SFA, CRM, or other opportunity management system.