Recently I had a discussion with a sales manager who said the key to success in sales is having an effective sales process.

His argument was very strong, but not more than 30 minutes later, I received a phone call from a sales recruiter looking for sales candidates.  I asked him what he looked for in a candidate.

The first thing he said?  A person with strong selling skills.

Two discussions. Two different opinions.

So, which is it?  Here are my thoughts.

Strong selling skills certainly are a beginning.  These include the ability to listen, ask questions, create a unique selling proposition and ultimately close.   I refer to these as selling skills, not a sales process.

A sales process is nothing more than a roadmap to help a person understand what they should do next.  Here’s the problem I have, though.  Too many people believe if they’re not having the level of success they should be having, it must be due to their sales process being flawed.

Sure, it could be a flawed process, but I say it’s probably not more than about 10% of the time.  The vast majority of the time it’s going to be an issue with selling skills.

If you’re not achieving the level of success you think you should be having, before you jump in and change your sales process, first look at your selling skills.

The 4 areas I suggest you look at are:

Unique Selling Proposition

Listening / Questions



Look at each one of the 4 and ask yourself what adjustments or changes you could make to improve.   By breaking it down by key segment you’ll increase your odds of actually making a difference.

Start first by examining your “USP” — unique selling proposition. Is it truly different from what others are offering?  Does it match the needs of the customer?

Second, review your listening skills and, in particular, the questions you’re asking. Are they encouraging the customer to share inside information about their needs?  Or, are the questions nothing more than statements you’re asking the customer to confirm.

Third, are your prospects really prospects or are they nothing more than suspects? Does your prospecting process truly identify those who are active buyers?

Finally, review your closing process. Are you comfortable with 3 – 4 different closing techniques?   If you’re not, then there’s no way you’ll ever be effective.

I could go on with quite a bit more but I think you get the idea.

Before you throw the process out, look first at your own skills.

Copyright 2011, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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