The Antithesis of Sales Process: Successful Selling Requires Creativity

This is a guest post from our friend Todd Caponi, an expert in sales enablement and operations. He shares his tips for successful selling below.

I was out to dinner with clients a few weeks ago, when we inevitably got to talking about kids. One woman at the table mentioned that she has triplets. During the conversation, she explained that each of the three are completely different: different personalities, likes, dislikes, et cetera.  

Being a geek for sales methodology, my mis-wired brain immediately started thinking about sales process. Each of these three children are obviously born from the same parents, at the same time, and growing up in the exact same environment. How could all three be so different? But, again, what does this have to do with sales?

It’s about sales process. Historically companies create sales processes to attempt repeatability and scale within their organizations. “We sell X product to companies, so here is the process each sales person must complete to create efficiency and optimization.”

But, much like my client’s three triplets, every sales engagement is different. Each has unique customer requirements, perceptions, organizational limitations, budgets, timing, go-to-market strategies, and more, and they’re each likely at different stages in the buying cycle when the client brings you in.  

With that, traditional sales process needs to be rethought: 

– Successful selling demands creativity and innovation, and
– Seller-focused sales processes restrict creativity and innovation.

Here are three things you can start doing today:

1) Per another one of my blog posts titled “The Modern, Simple Sales Process,” focus your sales process on prescribing seller behavior based on recognizing and driving buyer behavior. Think about today’s environment when creating it: where the client has access to more information than ever before, prior to engaging with you.  

2) Make sure every one of your sales people are students of history. Innovation is accelerated through knowing history. Client stories— both in terms of the customer’s unique requirements and the solutions to match— but also the journey, should be the foundation for enablement (whether they were successful journeys or not). Think about the greatest inventions in our history; like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, the best ideas and innovations often come from combining multiple potentially unrelated ideas.

3) Collaborate often with a diverse group of individuals within your organization. We used to call these “Key Deal Reviews.” We’d bring 5-10 diverse individuals from within our organization. The rep is not allowed to prepare a presentation or Powerpoint, but must be ready to answer questions about the opportunity (which reduces the amount of “B.S.” dramatically, replaced with more “I don’t knows,” which is what you want during these calls). One person would ask a list of assessment questions about the deal, then, once the account team or rep have had a chance to answer all of them, each person on the phone would weigh in. The result is an honest assessment on where the holes are, and an offering of creative ideas to fill those holes and win opportunities.

We'd like to thank Todd for his contributions! Connect with him on his website or on Twiter: @tcaponi.