There is a great story within the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, where the Chief Executive of McDonalds is presenting to some Harvard MBA’s. He asks the question, “What business am I in?” The highly intelligent MBA’s look around and laugh amongst themselves. One of them pipes up, “Well clearly, you’re in the burger business.”

“Wrong!” says the McDonalds man. “We are in the Real Estate business. We don’t make the best burgers, but we do put them in the right place.”

It is a great lesson in understanding what your business really is.

I am often explaining to my customers that my company is not in the technology business, but in the business business. Yes we are a Cloud Service Provider, and work with technology companies like Google and But what we really deliver to customers is an improved business. More deals, better processes, higher Average Order Sizes, lower support costs.

One of the first steps with a new client is to stop the technology talk, and start talking about business.

  • Who are your customers?
  • Where do they come from?
  • What is an average deal size?
  • What is a lead?
  • What is an opportunity?
  • What are the stages in your Sales Process?

As we walk through these questions it very often happens that there is no answer to many of the questions, or more likely there are many different answers depending on who you ask!

“A lead is anything that marketing deal with.”

“No it isn’t, a lead is the first stage of our Sales Process!”

So often businesses have been so busy with the day to day operations that they haven’t had time to step back and define their sales process and their terminology. This makes it very difficult for new members of the team to pick up on the process, makes it impossible for the Management to forecast and plan effectively and ultimately keeps the business smaller than it should be.

We often hear “We did increase the size of the sales team a couple of years ago, but things became quite complex and we didn’t see an increase in revenue so we cut back to the initial team.”

There is a large amount to discuss, but here I just wanted to provide some ideas and suggestions around your Sales Process. One of the first questions is around Pipeline versus Funnel. What is the difference? Is there one? What terms to you use? Are they consistent across the business?