Sales Process: Even a Man Lost Knows Where He Wants to Go

Traditionally sales people are viewed as being able to convince, persuade, handle objections … a very provincial view. Michael Bosworth, in his book “Customer Centric Selling” says it best:

“Traditionally sales people are viewed as being able to convince, persuade, handle objection, overcome resistance, etc. This is a very traditional view of what sales is and it’s a very manipulative way to sell. Buyers don’t like to be manipulated. Buyers like to buy things, they just don’t like to feel they are being sold to as part of the process.”

In the sales process there is what I call “no man’s land”. A former colleague taught that buyers of anything, from chewing gum to complex, enterprise software solutions, go through four phases in the process of acquiring a good or service:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Preference
  • Commitment

Marketing owns Awareness and Interest.

Sales owns Commitment.

Marketing and sales own Preference—building preference for your product or solution over other available products or solutions. Preference can happen immediately, or take weeks or months to develop. Marketing should own Preference on those leads requiring nurturing. Sales should own Preference on sales ready leads.

Preference is the sales process “no man’s land”, and it is costing companies hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars.

The way many companies operate today, unfiltered “raw leads” are sent to sales after companies with Awareness and Interest are identified. Sales is ill-equipped to filter through the large quantity of so-called opportunities they are sent, so at best they cherry pick what appear to be the best opportunities (sometimes accurately and sometimes not). The rest of the “raw leads” end up inactive in some SFA or CRM system—essentially wasted.

If as few as 3 – 7 out of 100 “raw leads” are sales ready, what chance does your sales force have of finding real leads if they are sent batches of “raw leads” by marketing? And, what chance is there that qualified, longer-term opportunities will be effectively nurtured. I say: slim, and none. Even a man lost in the woods knows those odds are not going to result in ROI.


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