October 8, 2021
If you go to Google and search “sales process” you’ll get about 3,000,000,000 results. That’s 3 billion, with a B. Most of those results will tell you your sales process should have five, six, or seven stages.
The idea is that you set up multiple stages, assign tasks attendant to each stage, and move the prospect along if those tasks are completed or milestones met.
Let me preface this by saying multi-stage sales processes are fine if it is working for you. They can be helpful for inexperienced reps. Or for doing analysis. However, I think most early-stage and growth companies can operate well with a simple two-stage process.
Buyers essentially fall into two phases. The first is the research phase in which they digest your marketing content. They have little interest in talking (or generally corresponding) with a member of your sales team.
Logically, the second phase is when they want to engage with you, the vendor. They’ve done their research and are ready to do a deep dive into the solution.
This is the real world for most B2B sellers. Your buyers are either doing their research and not talking to you…or they are actively engaged with the sales team. When this happens, I don’t want my team to force the buyer onto a fixed path. I want them to ask questions and listen. I want them to determine if this is a winnable deal, if the buyer needs to do more research, or if it is not a viable prospect for us.
For those who have a multi-stage process in place I ask – do the different stages really matter or are they a distinction without a meaningful difference? If they do matter – great – keep it going. If not, keep it simple.