Nate Tutas is a former United States Marine Corp Infantryman turned sales consultant, and we’re lucky to have him on our sales team at Membrain. He recently starred in an episode of the Sales and Cigars podcast, talking about how sales process can transform sales managers into great coaches. Here are the key takeaways from that appearance
Tutas shared that, in the military, literally everything has a process. How to tie your boots. How to make your bed.
This commitment to process contributes to the safety and effectiveness of every aspect of the armed forces. Later, Tutas took that learning from the military to his work in sales consulting and sales management, and now he applies it as a sales consultant for the Membrain product.
“Most businesses have processes too,” he says. “Operating procedures, KPIs, etc. If the finance department doesn’t have a process, how can they file taxes or run the P&L?”
Yet many sales organizations don’t have processes in place. There’s a gap between the value organizations see in process for other aspects of the business, and the value they give it in sales. Tutas wants that gap to end, and his work involves helping clients understand how process can support not only their salespeople, but especially sales management.
Often when Tutas begins working with a sales organization, they think they have a process. He gets them talking about it by asking: “So, how do you sell something around here?”
“That opens the conversation,” he says. “They tell me about their process, and I say, ‘So, you have that written somewhere, right?’ and they look at me like I have three heads.”
So the first step in working with them is helping get the process down on paper. Once that’s done, and they list out the steps, they begin to see where they have weaknesses. For instance, an organization that says they’re very customer focused may discover that one of their first steps in the process is a demo, rather than a discovery of customer needs. They see that there’s a mismatch in how they think about themselves and how they actually interact with the customer.
“Sales process is not just how you make a transaction,” says Tutas. “It’s how you deliver, and the value that you provide. It’s how you construct the engagement with the customer. It’s a big thing.”
Once sales leaders begin to see the complexity of their process and how it does and does not serve their customers, they become more open to formalizing it.
Tutas says he was lucky to experience great leadership while serving in the military. Contrary to myth, great leadership isn’t just handing down orders and making decisions.
“Good leadership in the military looks like this,” he says. “Orders come down, and you say what needs to get done. Then you say, ‘Here’s what I suggest - what do you guys think we should be doing?’ Then they come back to you, and you come back and apply your expertise and experience to ask your people if they thought about this, or that.”
He says in sales, the same principles apply. You ask people what their goals are, inside and outside the company, and then you tie those things together. You help them see how the company’s success equals their success outside. Usually, that comes down to being more effective on their sales calls.
In order to help salespeople be more effective on their sales calls, you need a joint language and joint process.
With a shared process, including milestones and steps and checklists, you can go to the process map with the salesperson and identify where you are.
“Then you can say, oh, okay, so in order for us to be here, we must have already collected this information in early steps, right?” says Tutas. “A lot of times you get a blank stare and a no. So then you ask, well, what are we doing all the way over here? And you coach them to the process. You come up with a plan to recover the information you missed, and they begin to understand the value of the process.”
Tutas says that Membrain is a key tool that sales managers can use to coach to the process. It helps everyone see very clearly where they are in the process and what steps have been missed. It helps sales managers improve sales skill sets and their ability to elevate the rest of the team.
Because everyone is following the process, it becomes the path and the language and the process that everyone shares.
Tutas speaks about the importance of sales managers not returning to old habits as sales people, but rather allowing their people to learn and grow. In some cases, this means allowing salespeople to fail.
“As a sales manager, you help keep them from making too big of mistakes,” he says, “but there’s a small percentage of folks that just refuse to learn without making their mistakes first.”
In these cases, you can let them lose a few deals. Then you can take them back to the process and show them where the missing elements might have saved the deals. Now they’re motivated. Once they win a few deals using the process elements that they previously skipped, they’re sold and use the process in future.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.
Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn