top sales performersHow do the top sales people continually blow away their quota so effortlessly? Could it be they know how to maximize their sales process by doing more, earlier in their sales process? Is this really what makes top sales performers so successful?

As a sales person, chances are you hate hearing about sales process since it means that you’ll need to do more than what you are already doing – and you already have enough on your plate. However, a great sales process gives you a roadmap or foundation for sales success. It should be exactly what you are already doing. It may even include a few things that you either know you should do or remind you to do because they are important for your success. A great sales process provides insights into what the top performers actually do to be successful.

I always find that when people talk about sales process, it means different things to different people. To ensure we are on the same page, here’s what should be included in a great sales process:

  • the key stages of moving a deal efficiently from lead generation to close or expand
  • the key high-yield activities in each stage highlighting what top performers do either instinctively or based on their own best practices
  • an understanding of where the buyer is in their buying process as it relates to your selling process

So, why should you do more, earlier in your sales process? To ensure you are doing exactly what makes top sales performers so successful. The more research you do earlier in your process, to better understand the buyer’s motivations, risk tolerance priorities, etc., the better you will be prepared for anything that comes next. If you spend time understanding who the key decision makers and influencers are and what they are trying to accomplish – business outcomes, what’s worked in the past/not worked, etc. – the better you can match your products and services to their needs.

  • Don’t provide a proposal or do a demo just because they asked. But ensure you have done proper discovery or you may just be column fodder.
  • Don’t spend too much effort unless the customer is engaged in the process. Assess if there is good “give and take” when it comes to both your time and your customer’s time.

You don’t want to be wasting your time and you definitely don’t want to be column fodder, so the key to doing more, earlier in your sale process, is to ascertain if you need to just move on and lose early or move forward and progress the deal through your sales cycle.

While doing more earlier in your sales process is key to your success, never forget that things change all the time. People move up in an organization or leave, goals change, priorities change, etc. So please – always qualify and verify your data to ensure it’s relevant and you have a clear understanding of where the buyer stands in their buying process as it relates to your selling process. Do more, earlier in your sales process and you’ll get a better glimpse as to what makes top sales performers so successful.

Janice MarsJanice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter