A Quality Decision Process vs. a Sales Process


Jeff Thull’s book “Exceptional Selling” on the art of conducting High Stakes Sales continues to provide superior value. He has written several articles for management consultants that I have found particularly useful.

In a prior post, I mentioned that I have been doing some work to customize my own approach, based in part on this book.

He makes the point that a high quality sales approach is basically a high quality decision process, just mis-named.

He also advocates the production of a Cost of Problem Analysis (COPA) that describes the cost of the problem that exists. Once that is done, he describes a Solutions Report that is used to defines the Gains to be made from the solution, as well as the Solution Cost. The difference is the Solution’s Financial Impact. All these computations are described in a Solutions Report.

As I am learning more about this approach I am seeing that it takes some skill to devise these reports for the kind of work that I do — after all I am selling interventions, not machines.

This is where my industrial engineering background has been helping.

He says:

Next, explore the six major focus areas required to arrive at a quality decision process. They include: thoroughly diagnosing the problem; determining the financial impact of the solution; establishing measurable outcomes; understanding solution alternatives; defining investment parameters; and establishing the decision criteria. In each of these areas ask the following questions to help prevent decision mistakes:

  1. What types of mistakes do clients tend to make regarding this kind of decision?
  2. What do clients most frequently overlook or not consider?
    Make sure the decision process brings these elements into consideration.
  3. What are the most difficult things for a client to understand?
    Determine ways to communicate these elements precisely.
  4. What must a client understand to reach a fully informed decision?
    Make sure the decision process brings these to the client in an orderly fashion.
  5. What level of professional education or experience is required to understand each specialty area of the decision?

Make sure you engage people in the decision process that have the required experience or professional background.

In the article I read, he talks about helping the client to improve the way they make complex decisions, and preventing them from making mistakes. The same also applies to the sales professional.

Phew… this is going to take some thought!