Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why Do Sales and Marketing Pros
Resist Consistent Process?

David Stein, one of America’s leading sales effectiveness coaches, has a post at Cincom Simplicity that points out 7 reasons that sales training programs are not having the desired impact on sales. Sixth on his list was one that reverberated with me:

“Many sales people (gotta love 'em) are, by nature, seat-of-the-pants type folks -- 180 degrees opposite of engineers. Show ten average reps a step-by-step process and five will run the other way.”
Despite the prevalence of various selling processes, most companies fail in making the cultural changes necessary for a sales force to adopt a process.

Most sales people would rather do it their own way, and many are highly successful doing things their way. The problem is that weaker sales reps are then left to their own with no cultural mandate to align. And an even bigger problem is that reporting and measurement systems sink when reps skip around the corporate process.

This kills management’s ability to manage the business and it wipes out any ability to identify process problems so that the entire sales organization can get better and better.

Interestingly, I think the same thing goes for marketers as for sales people. The lack of (often even the active resistance of) discipline to follow a process is rampant in marketing.

Many marketers treat campaigns as episodes instead of sequential points in an overall longitudinal process. If the prospect does not respond to the campaign, the prospect is considered no longer a valid prospect. The marketer then winds up the next campaign with a new list of prospects and once again reacts only to those few who respond.

Marketing -- like sales -- requires us all to follow a process that will maximize our penetration into a given market segment.

Like David, I keep wondering why we all seem to resist consistent process.

My conclusion is that following a process is hard work. Mining customers out of a market segment takes a lot of long, hard hours of work: segmentation, campaign development, collaboration, consensus building, creative, production, and analysis.

None of us likes hard work, and based on statistics, most of us chose to avoid it.
It appears that those of us in marketing and in sales need a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.

There is tremendous power in the emerging CRM, marketing automation and sales force automation technologies, but if we don’t do the human side of the process consistently, no technology will work.

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