Is Your Sales Process Linear, and Where Does Client Research Fit?

rhumbaThe Productive Selling Process is a detailed process that follows discrete steps. Adopt it, and try to implement it exactly, and your process will still be different. Try as you might to be faithful, you’ll change things, add tasks, move tasks to different places, and do things in a different order.

It will be different because it’s yours.

You’ll decide to do some things differently or asynchronously. Sometimes, you’ll skip a step, but when you do you’ll always know why you’re skipping it. When you know what you need to do because you’ve done it often enough that you don’t have to think about it, you’ve moved from conscious competence to unconscious competence. You’ve internalized a process. And, if you continue to debrief your sales process, you’ll continue to refine what you do.

Client research is often one of the steps good salespeople do in a non-linear fashion. Imagine, you’ve just secured a meeting with a client you’ve wanted to meet. Now you’re ready to sit down and do the research to prepare for the meeting. In the Productive Selling process this means learning the basic background information that is relevant to the client, and generating five questions about which you’re curious.

But you’ve been tracking this client for months. You and your analyst have been storing articles in Evernote. Every Monday morning or Friday afternoon, or while you sip a beer on Tuesday between innings of the ball game, you flip through the trade rags, or search Yahoo news, or do a Google search for this company and client. You’ve built a habit for how and when you do research, so when it comes time to do your research for a meeting you’ve secured, you’re already done.

You should be able to describe your sales process in linear fashion. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily do it that way. Life is non-linear. You’ll find that as you practice your process, as you live it, it will take a different form — a form that fits you.

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