The Sales Law of Kinda

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Tue, Aug 09, 2011

Just arrived in Vermont for a few days.  What a huge difference from the NH shore, and it’s just not the beach-mountain thing.  It’s the lushness of Vermont.  It’s not just that everything is green; it’s that green is everywhere, including the haying fields in front of the house that I thought for sure who be burned out just like our grass in NH.   It’s good to know that some things-like Vermont-never change and that a process is a process.

When I bought the house 25 years ago, I asked who cut the substantial haying field in the front, and the somewhat vague answer was mysteriously… “Don’t worry about it; Capen will be here in the summer to cut the field”.  This season, not having been back to Vermont since last April, the first thing that I noticed as I was driving in on Sunday was that the field had been cut-probably in early July-and from the looks of how things are growing, there'll be another cutting before the fall. 

The house actually came with Mr. Capen.  Other than a few hand waves and four or five words a year about the weatha’, there’s never been any discussion about the fact that he cuts the field and any financial transaction related to it.  20 years later, it’s now a very symbiotic relationship. He cuts the field once or twice a year, which would otherwise go to woods, making me unhappy.  On the flip side, he bales the "free" hay and carts it away, loading one bale at a time into the back of his pickup to store in his barn up the road to feed his cows…which makes Capen happy.   A nicely balanced formal process which benefits both sides perfectly.

I wish my experience with formal sales processes was the same.  The three responses I get when I ask the simple question of “Do you have a formal sales process?” is “Yes”, which is very few, and "No", which is also very few, and “Kinda”, which is the overwhelming majority. Sales Stats 1, July 2011 resized 600   

If you take a look at the stats above from a recent survey of 1,000 salespeople, you will note a couple of things:

  1.  The first is just how low salespeople rank their various sales tools and attributes overall.  On average, the rankings here are just that…“average”.
  2. The other is that having “a formal sales process” ranks just marginally higher than CRM system in terms of benefit to the job.  Both are ugly results.

And yet, when we take a look at data from CSO Insight, regarding the benefit of a formal sales process, we find that 35% of the 1,000 plus salespeople interviewed state that process “significantly improves” their performance while 54% state that it “modestly improves”. For me, I'll take both "significantly" and "modestly" anytime-any improvement over "normal" is a benefit.

The bottom line here is that in what will now be a very tough selling environment for the next year as companies hunker down for a probable double dip, I would recommend that we take any tool that we can find to improve our sales effectiveness and embrace it fully.  

With the adoption of a formal sales process, there’s absolutely nothing to lose.  With no process, or actually with “a kinda process”, which is worse since it actually creates confusion among the team players as to who is doing what and to what extent, there will always be extended sales cycles, high turnover of the best performers and lower close rates than the guys who are following formal processes.

Patriots & Sales ProcessRight now, the Patriots are in training camp, out on the field and in the classroom training for the upcoming game on the 11th against Jacksonville.  They’re devouring playbooks, working out relentlessly and being drilled in formal processes.  There’s very little in professional sports that relates to the word, “kinda”, so why would we allow our professional salespeople to sell any way that they want to, when in fact, as coaches, we already know what works and what doesn’t work that well.

As we enter into this particular football season and unfortunately what will be a very difficult selling period this fall, just think about how you can put formal training and formal processes to work among your own team of professionals.

Sales Boot CampIf you want to learn a lot more about sales processes,  at our Sales Management Boot Camp on October 2nd-4th, we go into great detail with similar data, numerous tactics and detailed recommendations that can optimize the sales performance of your team by up to 30% in a year. To learn more regarding the details about agenda, costs, speakers and location, just click on to Sales Management Boot Camp. or you can just send me an email at, and I can schedule a very short 10 minute call to answer questions and walk you through the details.

In quick summary…

  • Five years of boot camps
  • Over 350 graduates
  • CEOs & Sales Managers only- (a number of sales managers are bringing 1or 2 of their team)
  • High satisfaction & lots of testimonials
  • Presentations by Brainshark, HubSpot & Salesforce
  • Pre-August 15th discounts
  • Pre-August 15th free Sales Assessment Whiteboarding Session-a $2,500 value

Good Selling today!

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Tags: sales productivity, Sales Optimization, sales, sales management, sales management effectiveness, sales effectiveness, sales tools, selling, sales management training, selling skills, closing sales, Sales quota, sales training