I am traveling this week, and hence when I realized I needed a haircut, I couldn’t go to my regular barber. Standing in a new town, I got referred to “Bill the Barber”, a local legend who’s been cutting hair from the same chair for over 4 decades.
Now Bill has a process. From the second you enter his establishment, you’re asked a series of questions and given a series of instructions. It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, tall or short, fat or thin. Bill has a process, and you are expected to follow the process. There’s only one problem. Bill’s process has gotten so rigid and strict, he cuts the same amount of hair off, regardless of any requests you make. I got bad a haircut because on my almost bald head, Bill’s process isn’t applicable.

Having a process is important, doubly so in sales. A process allows you to follow best practices and make sure all the essential elements of your sales path are in place and being played effectively. A process is far superior to the main alternative, winging it. Process, However, isn’t supposed to be a prison, and also isn’t supposed to supersede your senses, including common sense!
For example, part of my process is to validate time on the front end of my sales calls. That usually involves asking if I’m interrupting to make sure my prospect is listening. I am rigid, even militant about this practice. I know that I have nothing if I don’t have time. I will never open a cold call without this step.
That said, I have two eyes and two ears, and brain in my head. If I walk into or call into a situation where I can clearly observe my prospect is in the middle of fighting a fire (figuratively or literally), I am going to look pretty foolish asking if I’m interrupting.

My process dictates that this is step 1, and that I should NOT proceed without first getting time. My common sense notifies me that in this specific scenario, my usual step 1 isn’t appropriate or intelligent. I’m not abandoning my process, I’m adjusting the language and direction to match the scenario. So when I walk into a firestorm, I’ll adjust to “This is clearly not the time to talk”, and start to punt to be able to come back at a later time. The prospect may pull me back in, or this could reset the cold call back to step 1 at a later date. Either way, I’m not letting go of process, I’m adjusting it to the situation.
Not everyone’s head is the same, and hence not everyone gets the same haircut. The fundamentals of the process of cutting hair, however, remain in place and effective.