If you have read several of my posts or articles, or checked out my website, then you have seen me reference “systems” in most of the things I have written.
And you may have thought I was strange (and maybe even wrong) for talking about systems and sales in the same sentence or paragraph. You may have even thought, Surely, systems will break a sales team, taking away their natural creativity and ability to talk with a prospect and close deals. Systems will be too constrictive for them and ruin the whole thing.
I have heard that so many times in my career, from some sales managers and a lot of sales reps.
They think their sales advantage comes from being good at talking to people and convincing them to buy (sometimes when it isn’t even in the prospect’s best interest).
I cannot count the number of rebellious reps who have been defiant toward company-required systems or processes.
So why do I still focus on implementing sales-related systems?
Because I believe for a business to be considered successful, it must produce predictable results.
Sales reps left to their own skills and devices will not produce consistent results over the long term. Yes, they may do great today, or this week. But next week, they could hit a slump.
Without a system in place, management will have no idea why the rep is in a slump or how to help pull them out of it.
While writing this article, I can hear the sales managers reading this saying, “I know how to manage my reps and help them close deals!”
I am not saying managers do not know how to lead a team. But can they get consistent results week after week from their team? And can they do that with more than ten reps? What if they have fifty reps? Or one hundred?
I have found that effective daily management oversight of reps is limited to eight to ten reps. Beyond that, it can get tough to produce effective and profitable results per rep.
Before I address the sales management elephant in the room (how systems stifle sales teams), I want to talk about the types of systems that should be in place. Here are some examples:
- Scripting: Sales team should have scripting that directs them on what to say to move the conversation toward the close, as well as question/objection responses. Depending on your sales process/cycle, I recommend a full (word-for-word) script for new sales reps, and an abbreviated reference version for experienced reps.
- Sales Process: Hold the reps accountable for following the proven sales formula that produces the best results for your product/service. There should be a generally applicable order of steps that must be followed to generate a fully closed sale.
- Marketing/Lead Distribution: Whether it is a single source of leads or multiple marketing channels, there should be a system based on distribution rules and aided by technology to direct leads to the right reps. Ideally, an intelligent, performance-based routing system should be in place so your top reps are the priority when a new lead comes in.
- Lead Pipeline Management: Instead of relying on reps to make outbound calls or send emails to their leads, the organization will want to have technology solutions in place that maintain contact with the leads in order to turn them into closed sales.
- Referral Generation: Without relying on reps to generate referrals from their own deals, a referral platform should be in place to provide consistent follow-up with clients with the goal of prospecting them for referrals.
- Compliance: Technology systems will be important for maintaining compliance of reps to a) required scripting, if applicable, and b) avoid noncompliant phrases or activities. Current AI-based platforms are available that will highlight compliance-related items, allowing for management to focus on areas of improvement.
- Gamification: Many different options are available for systemized gamification of a sales team in order to keep them engaged and excited, from short-term to long-term games at the individual and team level.
Now that you have an idea about some of the “system” I am referring to, I can still hear some of you saying “But your systems are still going to put too many restrictions on my reps. Let them do what they do best—have conversations and close deals!”
The issue with this logic is that within any sales process is a bunch of “admin” type work. Data entry, follow-ups, notes, emails—there are always required items that go along with a sale. It is never just a conversation. The challenge is that most traditional salespeople rely on their charisma, personality, and ability to talk the prospect into buying, but that isn’t enough. If you have ever managed a sales team, you know the constant battle the organization fights to get the sales reps to follow all the other requirements to generate a complete sale.
This is where systems come in.
When done correctly, systems should be built in all the possible areas outside of the conversation part of the sale to cover the mundane but important and required parts of the sales transaction.
Such a system will free up the reps to be creative. To have conversations. To listen. To solve problems. To build trust. Without worrying about, or being conscious of, the admin portions of the transaction.
By putting systems around your reps, you are doing the same thing for them that most successful people do in their personal lives by developing routines. It’s the same philosophy behind Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs wearing the same outfit each day to help them have one less thing to think about. Your systems should take away conscious efforts from your reps so they can use their energy and focus on the conscious and subconscious art of the conversation with prospects.
Lastly, the key with the systems you put in place is the balance between the discipline required for those tasks and the spontaneity of getting to a closed deal.
If you aren’t sure if there is a sales system in place or if the current one is optimized for performance, call or text Jason at (206) 234-1848, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s set up a discovery call to see how to put the right sales system in place.