Modify Maverick Behavior with a Consistent Sales Process

By Heather Baldwin

Do your reps operate like a well-trained army unit, following a consistent, documented process based on rigorous training? Or are they mavericks, each doing their own thing with results all over the map?

Its true that mavericks might deliver sometimes. But the lack of a solid sales process can lead to a host of chronic problems, including a disconnected and manual approach to sales, a lengthy sales cycle, and an inconsistent definition of good prospects. Discipline, structure, and regular routine can help prevent these problems, says Commence Corporation CEO Larry Caretsky.

"Following a consistent process reduces the anxiety and uncertainty common among both salespeople and sales managers, because everyone knows what is expected and needed for every sales pursuit," says Caretsky.

The good news is that sales managers don’t need to invest in a big, branded system to function at the top of their game. Caretsky recommends sitting down with your top performers and automating what they’re doing. Ask your best salespeople to walk you through the steps they use to close sales. Use these six questions to start:

  1. How do you find prospects?
  2. What questions do you generally ask?
  3. How do you identify decision makers?
  4. How do you differentiate between influencers and decision makers?
  5. How do you determine need?
  6. What criteria do you use to determine whether this was a worthwhile lead?

Continue through each step of the sales cycle in this way to find out what micro-steps contribute to excellent performance. Your goal is to establish a process and a series of simple accompanying questions that eventually become second nature, says Caretsky. "[Your salespeople will] waste less time determining what information is missing and what the next step should be in the workflow. Sales appointments become more productive because they are only conducted when qualified as part of a planned sequence of events."

A standardized process will make it easier for managers to determine how each salesperson is performing. And when opportunities are stalled in one stage, it will be easier to identify and resolve them.

Make this the year you document, automate, and roll out a standard process that every rep on your team follows. Then watch them all hit their targets.

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