I was having work done to the exterior of my car week before last. While there I struck up an interesting conversation with the owner of the company doing the work. I expressed an interest in how the company produced the quality of work for which they were known. With excitement, he invited me back to his shop to watch a car run through his facility. The process this organization implemented for doing their work fascinated me. Every step in the process was logical and clearly defined. Each department and individual had assigned responsibilities; each executed their part of the process with exacting precision. The result was flawless work. The owner bragged quality work is why he was able to provide an unconditional guarantee for his company’s work.
As we walked back to the waiting area, the conversation turned to sales. He told me he had three sales people: one who had been with him for 8 years, the other two he described as part of the “sales revolving door.” When I asked what he meant, he told me that besides his one successful guy. He couldn’t keep salespeople. He estimated he had run through at least two-dozen salespeople in the last 8 years. Being curious, I asked about turnover in his shop. He told me he hadn’t lost a person in over 3 years. Hmmm.
So, I’m talking with this successful business owner where employee turnover in his shop was dramatically lower than his in sales department. The obvious question was, “why?” His response, “Good sales people are impossible to find. The people I find simply can’t produce.”
My response? “It may not be a people problem. I’m curious, what PROCESS do your sales people use to sell?” After a few seconds of blank staring he responded, “I have no earthly idea.”
It’s so funny how people view selling.
Here we have a business owner obsessed with process when it came to his production facility. However, when it comes to selling, nothing. He left it up to his reps to determine how they sold. It was completely random. The excellent results for his production facility were by design. The failure of his sales organization was a lack of an established sales process.
It should be no surprise that CSO Insights 2013 Sales Management Report shows that among sales organizations surveyed, only 44.8% of reps in organizations using random sales processes make their quota.
Business owners like the one referenced in this blog have to change the way they view selling. Just like any other part of their business, the process for selling has to be clearly defined. The same obsessive approach to process applied to production, accounting, or inventory control has to be applied to the sales organization.
If they don’t, they’ll continue to live with low sales production and high turnover.