An inoculation is the introduction of a small amount of a disease into the body that prompts it to build its own immunity to larger doses of that same disease. In other words, giving someone a little bit of a disease makes them resistant to higher levels of it. Likewise, giving someone a little bit of a sales process make them resistant to higher degrees of process.
So if you implement only half of a sales process (should I say a half-assed sales process?) we might render ourselves less able to recognize a complete sales process when one hits us in the mouth.
The other, more urgent warning is about hybrid sales processes. We see them all the time, and most of them aren’t processes at all. They’re more a “one from column A, and one from column B” approach. They may or may not be based on good sales theory, or they might be incongruent by being part customer service oriented, and part sleaze and manipulation. These processes can be extremely confusing to your customers. If you wouldn’t want your mother to be exposed to your sales process to buy a bike, then you’ve probably got some incongruence in your process.
One example of where incongruence manifests itself is in pay plans. Salespeople are asked to take their time with a customer, but then they’re paid the bulk of their commission based on volume. Neither of those two agendas is bad, but they don’t support each other.
In the last few columns we’ve been talking about measuring results, all leading to a point where I hope to introduce the concept of a measurable, monitorable and maintainable sales process.
From the interviews and surveys we’ve been doing, we’ve learned that many of you are planning to implement a sales process this winter. But you can’t just buy a bunch of books on sales, make your manager read them, and expect a predictable increase in sales.
I’ve been beaten up for not specifically putting our ten-step process in the column. There are two distinct reasons that I haven’t. First, ours isn’t the only process in the world. We believe that it’s the best process in the world, and we have many clients who will testify to it, but there are plenty of good systems out there. You may be using one of them. The process you’re using and/or considering using may only need a few tweaks to render it measurable, monitorable and maintainable. That might be easier than starting from scratch.
Secondly, I want to make sure that the dealerships that use our process use it right. I ain’t putting my name on a morphed up process that gouges, cheats, manipulates or in any other way takes advantage of customers … period! If you want a copy of our process along with definitions and advice for successful implementation, just ask. We’ll be happy to send you something.
So what makes a complete sales process? Let’s cover it this one last time, and I swear, I’ll never write about it again … for at least a month. So what are the three standards that a complete sales process must contain again? It must be measurable, monitorable and maintainable. The key to utilizing these three standards is to first have sales steps that are universally defined and understood by everyone on your sales team. Do salesperson “A” and salesperson “B” interpret step six in the process the same way? Without that universal understanding, any sales process, no matter how well designed, becomes completely useless.
Does your sales process break down your preferred customer encounter into distinct and measurable activities? Most sales processes generally call those activities steps. All sales processes begin with something equivalent to a greet step. If your greet step asks if your customer was greeted and you have nothing to prove it, like a written and/or electronically documented name, it may have been carried out flawlessly by your salesperson, but I’ve got nothing to measure. If you only get tally marks instead of asking “how many did you talk to today?” you’ve got something measurable.
Why monitor? Because monitoring, when done correctly, is a huge component of coaching. Can you monitor the activities, or steps of your process on a regular basis? How often? How uniformly is the data being recorded? Who looks at it? What do you do with the information? Again, when salesperson “A” says he got to step six does salesperson “B” mean the same thing when he/she gets to step six?
Many dealers, after being routinely flogged at their 20 Groups, install some sort of traffic log. Most of them don’t ever get studied or even looked at — not necessarily because the information doesn’t get entered (which I know is the case more often than not) but because the information isn’t being gathered until it’s too late to do anything with it. Why look at it afterwards? The score of a game in the paper the day after the game can’t tell the coach what play to call to win the game.
The main reason consistent monitoring doesn’t take place is that it’s nobody’s job to do it. Compound that with the individual traffic logs we sometimes see where implementation of a traffic log has at least been attempted, and you further diffuse the accuracy of any data that may have been collected.
For a process to be maintainable, you must make sure that there are as many coachable steps in your process as possible. Identify things that you can help your team get better at. You can’t help your team get better at counting, but you can help your salespeople get better at getting people’s names. That’s a skill and skills can be learned.
Coachability has to do with skills. If it’s a coachable skill, one you can help your people get better at executing; it is maintainable. The more coachable steps you have, the more maintainable your process becomes.
That’s it. That’s as simply as I can break down the difference between an effective sales process and an ineffective one. If you’re looking for a magic bean, read a different magazine. If you’re looking for something of substance that, once you’ve built it, can change the way your company does business, this might be of use to you. If you need any assistance, contact us and we’ll try and assist you to figure out the best way to implement a complete process. But whatever you do this winter in terms of implementing and or improving your sales process, don’t inoculate yourself or your team. If you’ve already done so, identify it, admit it, then throw out both the baby and the bath water and start from scratch. Implement a complete sales process; one you’d feel comfortable letting your mom experience as a customer.
And for the record, I’ll quit harping on this subject once we in this unique and precious industry with are no longer compared with the sleazy stuff that the car business is identified with.