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What exactly is a sales process? And how individual is it?

These are important questions that we often don’t address. We try to pin a sales process down to something that’s repeatable for dozens to hundreds of people, but that might be entirely impossible. Many sales processes are inherently individual. The salesperson has a specific way of outreach, approach, relationship development, etc. Can that be fully scaled?

In all honesty? No.

Throw that sales playbook in the trash

That’s the title of an article from Sales Hacker. And it makes sense. A sales playbook is entirely individualistic. Even if an organization has a set sales playbook that everyone is supposed to follow, each individual salesperson will take their own approach to it. Sales is about relationships and nuance. No one can 100 percent scale it.

But beyond that, a sales playbook is not often learnable by others. Let’s relay a simple story: one of our colleagues is a really good SaaS/enterprise software sales guy. A few weeks ago, on an errant Friday, we saw him at a bar in America. He was with his wife and a potential client, drinking at 1pm. They were loving life, stayed for about 90 minutes, and the guy signed the next week. Compare with this — > another colleague in enterprise software sales worked a guy for 14 weeks, finally got in front of him at a conference in Vienna, and closed the deal there, with no beers involved.

Sales playbooks are different. Sometimes you need to throw the general concept around them in the trash.

What’s the better approach?

Easy!

Here’s the process:

  • Define your market-segment (ICP, Buyer Persona)
  • Define your positioning and sales messages for that market-segment.
  • Set the major milestones of that sales process (what is a qualified lead, what is a sales opportunity, what is a customer)
  • Find out what works in general (ways for lead generation, methods for sales execution, etc.)
  • Provide your sales force with basic sales collaterals (e.g. success stories)
  • Toss out the stuff that doesn’t work
  • Let each sales person find his very own approach how to generate leads (cold calls, email prospecting, conferences, etc.) and how to close deals (use a corporate slide deck, use his own slide deck, do a product demo or not, etc.)
  • Continue to learn and grow in sales

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to sales and selling. We all do the best we can with our talents and approaches. Chuck out the basic playbook and find your playbook.

Ted Bauer
About the author

I help companies to market their content in the most effective way.