Sales process

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A sales process is an approach to selling a product or service. The sales process has been approached from the point of view of an engineering discipline (see sales process engineering).[1]


Reasons for having a well-thought-out sales process include seller and buyer risk management, standardized customer interaction during sales, and scalable revenue generation. Approaching the subject from a "process" point of view offers an opportunity to use design and improvement tools from other disciplines and process-oriented industries.[2] Joseph Juran observed that "there should be no reason our familiar principles of quality and process engineering would not work in the sales process".[3]

In Management of a Sales Force (12th Ed. p. 66) by Rich, Spiro and Stanton a "sales process" is presented as consisting of eight steps. These are:

  • Prospecting / initial contact
  • Preapproach - planning the sale
  • identifying and cross questioning
  • Need assessment
  • Presentation
  • Meeting objections
  • Gaining commitment
  • Follow-up

From a seller's point of view, analysis of a sales process can reveal steps in a sale that are problematic, and may allow the prediction of numbers of sales based on initial interest.[4] The interface between the selling and buying process has also been diagrammed.[5]

Wider, in a world seeking to develop sustainable business concepts, there are three core pillars that need to be acknowledged, commonly called the Triple Bottom Line. One of these pillars is the Profit Pillar. For an organisation to make a profit it needs three things:

  - Sales, without which there will be no profit recognising that at a very basic level 
  - Good customer service to maintain customers or a positive market reputation
  - A Customer and Product facing strategy to ensure that market and sales opportunities are 
    secured wherever possible.

Furthermore, sustainability needs to flow through every activity in the Sales process: fail to prospect, and new customers will not be forthcoming to replace those that die or leave; Understanding the successes and failures is essential to fine tune the performance in the sales presentations; Recognising the customer needs helps in the development of the correct sorts of products or services, etc. A failure to reflect these issues will steer the organisation to failure, as has been seen with a number of high profile organisations over history.


  1. ^ Paul H. Selden (1997). Sales Process Engineering: A Personal Workshop. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press. p. 23. ISBN 0-87389-418-9. 
  2. ^ William H. McNeese and Robert A. Klein (1991). Statistical Methods For The Process Industries. Milwaukee, WI: ASQC Quality Press. ISBN 0-8247-8524-X. 
  3. ^ Selden (1997). p. xxii.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "The Sales Funnel", 
  5. ^ Paul H. Selden (November 2000). "The Power of Quality Thinking In Sales and Management". Quality Progress: 58–64.