Twenty years ago, Google burst onto the scene and what I remember most about it, was thinking what a stupid name! No-one I knew thought it could possibly last six months, a year at the outside. A free advertising service surely would drown in ads and be too annoying to use. Of course, they were offering much more than where to find your local pizza. In developing their winning formula they hit the sales process sweet spot, ‘selling’ us something we want and adding on something we didn’t know we wanted. Google gives us info but sells advertising.
So, Happy Birthday Google, twenty years old. They have refined their processes, added new products and continue to be a huge success. As for the name, how important is it? There are numerous examples of companies changing their name e.g. Datsun to Nissan springs to mind and a lot of products have changed with greater or lesser success. Remember the Marathon bar, now the weirdly named Snickers? And did you know that Pepsi used to be called Brad’s Drink? The name of a product can be hugely important as Heinz are currently finding out. They announced the iconic Salad Cream was to be renamed Sandwich Cream, but have had to ditch the idea due to a public outpouring of disgust. More important though, is the process that helps to sell that product, which is where Heinz were going, responding to research that their salad cream is mostly used in sandwiches and never gets near a crust of bread. Changing the name can be a way to realign a product or a band-aid measure to increase sales to meet short term targets, but in the long term, good process is the engine room of your sales function. Whatever your company is selling the first thing to do is take luck out of the equation and balance the scales, because good processes even the odds.
Successful sales is about systems and processes, it’s not a mysterious recipe possessed by a chosen few. Repeatable processes give all salespeople the best chance of success and are the only foundation on which successful businesses can be built.
You should have a template showing the steps in your sales process from the initial lead to qualification calls, meetings, presentations, negotiation and the close including who is responsible for each part. If you don’t have any process in place, deconstruct the sales process of your consistent performers and use that as your base. If you’re losing business, analyse at what stage in your process it occurs and then tighten up any weaknesses you find.
Deploying a good qualification system will help to weed out prospects who are not ready to buy and let your sales people focus on customers who are. Your best salespeople will ask the right questions, to get the right information, using the qualifying methodology as a guide not a rigid checklist.
Natural, engaging conversation is the best tool for an effective salesperson who will discover all the important qualifying criteria without the customer feeling like they are being ‘sold’ to. It’s important to remember that good qualification is probably the most important part of your sales process and there is no right methodology, only a right way of using the methodology you choose. Everyone in your sales team must use the method consistently, every time. Failure to qualify prospects and opportunities effectively, will mean wasting your time and resources and stop you achieving your targets.
Sales is not Science but both benefit from method and process. Finding a new star is the culmination of working with known processes, recognised and trusted methodology and achieving the ultimate. Science and Sales might have different goals but the essence of process is the same. Teams must work according to recognised, proven, repeatable, sustainable, consistent processes.
The finding of a new star is way up there on the wow factor, but what would it be named and does it matter? Did Brad’s drink sell less than Pepsi? Marathon more than Snickers? We know that the people power persuaded Kraft not to go with Sandwich Cream but as Google have shown and Shakespeare might say: ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ because it’s good process that matters and good process underpins every successful sale.