Sales Goals vs. Sales Process: Which is More Important?

There are two ways of thinking about sales: as a set of goals or as a process. Goal-oriented selling focuses on pre-determined milestones, starting with the initial meeting and ending when the sales closes. Process oriented selling focuses on the activities that must be performed in order to move the sales forward.

So here's my question for you. If you want to be really, truly successful...

CLICK for the correct answer »

If you really, truly, want to be successful, the correct answer is Sales Process!
That's why I posted "Create a Power Sales Process in 6 Easy Steps" earlier this week.

While many sales rep find sales goals to be highly motivating, the truth is that if you focus exclusively on sales goals you'll become blind to the process by which opportunities evolve into sales.

An analogy might be drawn by comparing the performance of weekend athletes with Olympic athletes. The weekend athlete thinks about pitching the ball into a basket, the last ten misses, the last three successful baskets and how stupid another miss will look.

By contrast, an Olympic athlete senses the position of the ball, the presence of the other players, and exact movement that needs to take place in order to move the ball closer to the basket. For the weekend athlete, the goal largely blots out the process making success a hit or miss proposition. For the Olympic athlete, the process leads naturally and progressively towards the goal.

Goal-oriented sales reps often feel more comfortable dong a hard sell, despite the fact that customer is like to feel railroaded.

Even consultative sales techniques can seem harsh and awkward in the hands of a goal-obsessed sales rep. Suppose, for example, the sales rep has been trained to ask probing questions to discover customer needs. If the sales rep is focused exclusively on the goal of making a sale, the customer will quickly realize that the point of the questioning is simply to lead inexorably towards a close.

Process-oriented sales reps, by contrast, don't focus much on the day-to-day humdrum of closing and quotas. Instead, they try to build long-term collaborative customer relationships where the customer actively brings business and opportunities to the sales reps.

This kind of relationship can only take place through the building of trust, credibility and rapport, which always evolve naturally from the sales process and never from the achievement of a short-term sales goal.

Many companies have incorporated the lingo of being customer-centric, but find customer loyalty difficult to achieve because the sales team is not trained on how to manage the sales process so that it builds long-term collaborative customer relationships.

As a result, sales people who master sales process are in extremely high demand because the end result of that process is for the sales rep's firm to become the preferred provider.

Note: the above is based on a conversation with Jeffrey Seeley, CEO of Carew International.