Screw the Sales Process. Study the Buying Process

By | August 16, 2009

We spend way too much time in our companies designing, measuring, and enabling, the Sales Process.

Every time you hear those words (Sales Process), I want you to ask a question: Wouldn’t it be more useful if we talked about the Buying Process?

Does this difference – between Sales process and Buying process – sound like hair splitting?

It’s not. You can make up a Sales Process. You have to talk to actual buyers to map the Buying Process. When you do that, everything will change.

- Alan

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About Alan Armstrong

I have had 3 successful startup exits in my 15 years in enterprise software. I have held executive roles in product management, sales, and business development. My biggest hit was Wily Technology, a bay-area startup where I was director of strategy through the acquisition by CA for $375M in 2006. I now help CEOs and sales teams accelerate revenue with a broad range of services, especially focusing on buyer interviews. As a third party with broad industry experience, I can gather information that the buyer generally will not provide to the seller directly. In doing so I can help diagnose individual stuck accounts, and look at an entire product line, territory, or customer segment to diagnose, recommend, and help accelerate growth.

0 thoughts on “Screw the Sales Process. Study the Buying Process

  1. josh duncan

    good point. it is easy to interchange the two processes but in reality they are different.

    the more you can learn about what goes through a customers mind during the buying process the better you can plan.



  2. Barry Paquet

    “Roger” that. To maximize sales effectiveness, you need to apply both. Too often sales executives are focused on developing a repeatable sale process — paying little attention to how customers make buying decisions. While a repeatable sales process is key to scaling sales operations, the tougher (and more interesting) job is to identify a buying process. In fact, understanding your market’s buying process is (should be) a prerequisite to any sales process worth its salt (or quota). After all, how can your sales process effectively address customer needs without first understanding them? A well designed sales process “matches” your customers’ buying process.

  3. Gregg Gallagher

    Understanding the buying process is not just an issue for the sales organization, but for the company as a whole. Very often it will have significant implications – requiring flexibility of thinking & operational processes – to accomodate customer’s buying processes.

    e.g., JIT/VIM purchasing frameworks….

  4. kevin sample

    Check out Neil Rackham’s book “SPIN Selling” for a good research-based treatment of the buying process.

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  7. Alan

    Thanks for these comments. Despite our violent agreement in this corner of the blogosphere, I don’t see this idea being incorporated into very many sales or PMM functions. The industry needs to reorient itself, gents!

  8. Vijay

    I Agree. If this is Incorporated. We can realize better output by putting in the efforts in the right direction

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