Sales reps bushwhacking instead of following your written sales process?

This is fifth in a series of blogs inspired while training for a hike in the Grand Canyon. Today I traveled another section of this trail which started where I ended before. I was following the trail markers which were few and far between on this trail. I walked for about a mile and didn’t see a marker indicating to turn right as I knew I needed to do. After walking back an extra mile, I still couldn’t find the indication to turn, so I pulled out my trail written directions. There was a discrepancy between the written directions and the trail markers on this section of the hike.

With trusty written directions in hand I followed them to the entrance to the woods. Once in the woods, the directions offered little help but there were old faded trail markers which I followed. I began to doubt the markers and took out my phone for a better map of where I was. With my phone in hand I left the trail in pursuit of the street the trail will cross. I could see the houses in the distance and at no point was I lost. I just wasn’t on the right trail. I ended up bushwhacking a bit and finally walking through someone’s side yard where I eventually found the trail which I easily followed for another 7 miles.

All and all this little error cost me some time and extra miles because I couldn’t follow the signs or the written directions easily, which takes me to the sales process. You can see by my nature I like to know the general plan and figure out the details on the fly using the plan as a general guideline and not a detail step by step process, checking in with the written document when I can’t figure it out. The problem with this approach is that occasionally there is some time that is lost when a step is skipped or sidestepped and when it comes to valuable sales minutes you can’t afford to lose them.

Encouraging the sales team to follow the sales process is important. Things like getting them to record information about the prospect, details of sales calls, when next to reach out to the prospect, etc. The sales team needs to understand that following the process will help them close more sales faster. If your sales process doesn’t achieve that goal, get it fixed! The sales process should be evolving and getting feedback from your sales team will help you fine tune it throughout the year.

As we enter the fall planning season, it’s time to gather that input for your 2019 sales compensation plans. Your sales process needs to focus the sales teams on the necessary steps to achieve the strategic sales goals. This year you may be lucky enough to have a sales team that is exceeding their sales goals which may be due exclusively to the economy and not their sales skills. This lucky may not be carried forward into 2019.