Great technology can transform the productivity of any process. Just look at what spreadsheets did for financial modeling. But you need to know how to capitalize on the technology. Spreadsheets need a process. You need to be clear on your input fields, you need to be clear on what your graphs and tables are demonstrating. In the same vein Salesforce is a great technology. ACT/Sage is pretty good as well. I’ve seen great CRM systems built on a Domino/Notes platform. But they will all fail without a world-class sales process.

I recommend the following process to you, having implemented it in 4 businesses with great success. It’s called the Prime Process by Jeff Thull. Here is my take at a high level. I’d encourage you to reach out to Jeff and his team. Prime’s framework includes 4 stages, Discovery, Diagnosis, Design and Deliver. Here is my 20 stage version.


Discover is about research and preparation. It encompasses how salespeople get ready to engage and serve clients. The discovery process is aimed at the identification of a specific client who has the highest probability of change. No desire to change – no POs.

1. Prioritize Account Management – not all leads are born equal.

a) Prioritize live deals
b) Prioritize prospects
c) Strategic Account Management – revisit satisfied customers

2. Specific Client Preparation

I. Build basic information on the client. It’s all about exceptional preparation.
II. Engagement Strategy signed off

a. 30 Sec commercials signed off (agenda setting)
b. List open questions, the cheat sheet for that client
c. Value assumptions listed

3. Initial and advanced conversations deployed– Up-front contract used, and ground rules established
4. Value Assumptions Validated – As you engage with your prospects you mutually agree that the sales process should continue


The Diagnosis stage encompasses how salespeople help their prospects and clients fully comprehend the inefficiencies and performance gaps. It is a process of “hyperqualification” during which we pursue an in-depth determination of the extent and financial impact of their problems.

5.     Key cast of characters established, job responsibilities understood
6.     Deploy indicator questions ensuring they are linked to value assumptions and job responsibilities
7.     Moving through the stages of change – establish the cause of problems
8.     Explore and document consequences of current processes & quantify the financial impact
9.  Priority of problem established
10. Summarize and reach agreement that it is worthwhile to invest time on possible solutions


Design encompasses how salespeople help the client create and understand the solution. It is a collaborative and highly interactive effort to help clients sort through their expectations and alternatives to arrive at an optional solution.

11. Explore alternatives – review potential solutions not just your products
12. Expectations – ensure expectations on results are realistic including the value likely to be obtained from your solutions
13. Timescales – ensure timescales are realistic, including implementation, training, using our technologies and expertise in their environment
14. Decision Criteria -sign off the success criteria that will be used to approve this deal
15. Recap Document – this document captures the conclusions from your discussions to date, including recapping:

  • the problem
  • expectations
  • timelines
  • requirements
  • selection criteria
  • reconciliation of different department needs
  • reasonable expected results from your technology including value

The recap document is the best way to surface hidden conflicts in the selection criteria. This has the effect of aligning the client’s decision making team.
16. Proposals – the official proposal is now sent.


In the final phase of the sales process, the work of the previous phases comes to fruition. It encompasses how the sales person assures the client’s success in executing the solution.

17. PO Issued – A PO matching the Proposal is signed off.
18. Delivery & Installation – Sales teams should confront and communicate all implementation issues that their clients will encounter
19. Post Sales Measure – Note a single order does not make a relationship. You’ll need to check in quickly with the client to ensure results have been realized. Probably around 4 to 8 weeks depending on the complexity of the solution.
20. Referral- optimum point is when the client has realized some benefit from the previous deal.

One of the key goals to any world class sales process is to focus the sales team not on sales but on improving the performance of customers. That focus will bring you record sales. Prime forces that agenda into every sales call.