Sales: System can weed out the false leads

Randy was sitting at his desk when he received one of those phone calls we all wish we’d get a lot more often. Randy is a sales guy for a large construction contractor whose specialty is distribution centers. The caller introduced himself as the operations manager for a large retail company in town, “We’re looking at expanding our distribution center, could you come out and look at the site, get a copy of the plans and submit a proposal for the work?”

Randy couldn’t believe his ears. Still, he’s a disciplined guy and wasn’t going to shortcut his company’s established sales process. In fact, only a week ago the entire sales team had been sternly reminded by the VP of sales to “follow the process!” Randy’s company had adopted a sales process, which they had been trained on by a large sales training company. 

He dutifully followed the process, step by detailed step: “uncover the needs, confirm needs with decision-maker, develop proposal…” Ten steps in all! Ultimately, he didn’t get the project. In fact, nobody got the project. In fact, the project was never real in the first place. Turns out, the ops manager was just trying to build a case for keeping the distribution center located where it was instead of moving it to Des Moines, where the company’s brand new owners were talking about consolidating distribution.

Most sales processes are like Randy’s: they’re steps. Wouldn’t it be nice if selling were to neatly follow a predictable path and therefore lend itself, like manufacturing, to a step-by-step process? Well that isn’t going to happen. 

That’s why when I teach clients our sales process I make sure they understand it for what it is: analysis. Even its name incorporates the word: BRAASS (Business Resource ANALYSIS and Advancement of Sales Situations). Figure 1 shows the BRAASS process in its simplest form. The BRAASS process is sequential inasmuch as there is a logical flow to the analytical thought process. I’ve attempted to summarize what each of the four “steps” attempts to capture in The BRAASS Sales Process.

Returning to Randy … if he’d followed this process he would have quickly determined, when he applied the urgency step, that there was no business reason behind this alleged distribution center expansion project, freeing up his time to pursue real opportunities.


BRAASS: Business Resource Analysis and Advancement of Sales Situations

How high is the account’s “urgency to buy or change what they’re
currently doing”?   
• What specific business or political circumstances are causing the customer to seek/need our type of solution?
• What is the timing of those circumstances?
• What are the implications to the account’s business of making a change?
• What are the implications to the account’s business of NOT making
a change(or delaying)?
 • How high are the internal hurdles to change? 
How strong is our Solution Fit?   
• How well do the customer’s needs or environment fit with our solution, core strengths and resources?   
How strong is our Business Fit?   
• To what extent have we identified the impact that our product/solution can have on the account’s overall business?   
How strong is our Philosophical Fit with this account?   
• Does this account’s philosophy toward supplier relationships align with our philosophy toward customer relationships; and, if it’s not aligned, do we believe that its philosophy could be influenced?

What level of support do we have from powerful people?   
• How significant are the strategic, financial, or political implications of this buying decision?
• Within this context, who at the account supports us and how powerful are these people within the account’s overall organizational/political structure?
How strong is our competitive position?   
• Who at the account supports our competition and how powerful are these people within the account’s overall organizational/political
• How strong is the competition’s fit compared to ours?

To what extent is this business worth pursuing and winning?   
• What is the potential value to our company of winning this business?
• Short/long term revenue and profit?
• Strategic marketing value?
• What, if any, unusual risks to we assume by pursuing or winning this
• What resources will be required to pursue this business?


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