Friction in Your Process – Is this Good or Bad?

  • Friction is necessary when you want to create, and build momentum.
  • Friction is less interesting when you want to maintain momentum.
  • Friction is part of the process of change.

Organization Friction

What about organization friction?  How can it be used to create momentum?

Friction is a powerful tool if you want to create change, shift direction, or create movement.  It is required. It is the reason we use cleats on the field, or sharp skates on the ice, tires that have grip. That fine blade though, one that does not have any rough edges, allows you to glide, and build up speed.  

There is a bit of a dichotomy here, a yin and a yang, a balance that we want to achieve.  This is necessary to start the forward progress, increase speed, and build toward results.

What about friction in your Sales Process?

Friction may be necessary in an early sales process, it may ignite the flame, or generate a catalyst to change.  As the process gains momentum though, we want to reduce friction as much as possible to reduce the risk of stalls.

Something that can create friction in your Revenue Operations team, without you realizing it, is a lack of alignment.  This lack of alignment may be driven by blind spots, or role/team specific goals. Marketing looks at the revenue generation problem through one lens.  Operations, considers another lens. While customer success uses yet another. These various views create potential risk, however they can also lead to opportunity.  In your role, you may have created a bias to a specific action, and you may be reinforcing blind spots.

One way to overcome blind spots, is to shift your perspective.  You can do this by calling in other members of the team, bringing in outside resources, or asking questions.  I like to start with a question, sometimes many questions. These questions can, and should provoke thought.

Let’s take a look at some questions specific to Sales Process.

  • What is your definition of Sales Process?
  • How does this definition change depending on who you ask?
  • How would your customer describe the Sales Process?
  • How would your rep describe the Sales Process?
  • How does your organization describe the Sales Process?

I know, that’s a lot of questions, all using similar words, and each shift the perspective a bit.  Let’s start with the definition. The next two definitions are from Webster’s dictionary.

Sales (plural) “a: operations and activities involved in promoting and selling goods or services”

Process (noun): “a series of actions or operations conducing to an end 
especially : a continuous operation or treatment especially in manufacture”

Sales Process – (combined) operations and activities involved in promoting and selling goods or services in a series of actions or operations conducing to an end 

Catalyst Sale Definition – the sales process is a series of stages used to identify progress in a sales cycle.  

The definition above is organization/company specific.  The sales process, as we define it through this lens, is intended to provide an accurate forecast. In order to exit a stage you should be able to answer a single question with a Yes.  If you are unable to answer the question with a Yes, you are not in the next stage of the process and you cannot sit in two stages at once. Progress through stages may be linear, however you may fall back into a previous stage if new information is uncovered.

Let’s say we define the process from the perspective of the customer.  This may be more similar to a decision making process or buying process.  This could be a series of gates that the customer may need to go through to justify a purchase.  It may be a series of gates the customer may need to go through to access or release funds. The decision process and the buying process may be directly related, may operate in parallel, or may be completely disconnected. 

What about the Sales Rep – Do they have their own process?  I certainly hope so. The sales rep should have a predictable, repeatable process that they follow.  This can be rep dependent or it can be managed and adopted across an organization. The objective with the rep process is to advance to the next step or “end”.  That next step may be another call. It may be more information. It may be a demo, or a trial, or something else. The key here is that this repeatable process creates forward momentum that can be measured.  If it cannot be measured or reflected on, it is not a valid process. It is not moving you closer to an end.

Next time you think or talk about  “Sales Process” clarify the lens you are using to describe it.  Are you thinking about this from a rep perspective, organization perspective, or your customer’s perspective?  Does this perspective create the right friction or decrease friction? Is that positive or negative?

Back to Friction 

Friction may be necessary in an early sales process, it may ignite the flame, or generate a catalyst to change.  As the process gains momentum though, we want to reduce friction as much as possible to reduce the risk of stalls. 

Understanding how you define your process, gathering clarity and consistency across the teams that are involved, analyzing data, and reflecting on these processes, can help you create friction where required and reduce it when necessary.

The questions you ask can be the catalyst you are looking for.

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