I slapped my forehead in pure exasperation. “I don’t believe it! All these years, decades, when I thought I had a sales system! Turns out I didn’t” This was the painful moment as a Sales Director that I first saw the Sandler “submarine.”
I am sure your company has a sales system. After all, you have a system for Accounts. You would hardly expect your accountant to say, “Well, some months we allocate these expenses this way, other months like that, and usually we just guess…” Nor would you expect Production to say “you see, normally we do it this way, but, if the client has asked for it, we re-build the whole assembly so it comes out twisted.”
And yet, when we ask Sales for their system, we get an answer just like that. “Well, basically, once we have uncovered some interest, we do whatever the prospect wants and, if we remember to, we ask for the business.”
Exaggerating? Try the experiment. Ask them for their system. Don’t forget to check consistency. “So, what happened with Prospect Z, then?” “Ah, well, that was different, let me explain…”
So Sales is the one area that there is often no system. Not in the sense you expect from the rest of the business; Logistics, HR, Legal, Accounts, Production. And yet we treat Sales as having a predictable system. We need correct forecasting to plan our business. So we are forced to look at historical data for “conversion rates”. So many leads go in at the top, these few fall out the bottom. You would not accept such a haphazard forecasting strategy for any other part of your business.
So it is all the Salespeople’s fault! Not really. They are following what they firmly believe is a system. Moreover, if your production machinery started to be a bit creaky, you would not say “No, we will not invest in maintenance and upgrades, the warranty promised years of trouble-free operation”. When it comes to Sales, the money-making bit, we often hear “No, we will not invest in upgrading our Sales and we will not regularly maintain it with expensive support. After all, in the interview they promised they were seasoned Sales Professionals.”
So when you checked your sales system, what did you find? Now you have been shocked, what do you intend to do about it?