Is Your Sales System Based on Best Practices?

As we move into a more difficult sales environment with the Fed lifting-off in the next few months, having a sales system based on best practices is more important than ever. In my consulting engagements, I rarely see sales organizations consistently sharing what has worked in origination. Instead, originators are left to “do their own thing” and managers are unsure how sales calls are actually being executed. While managers may argue that their originators are experienced, monitoring and setting standards are essential for creating long-term success. (On our internet radio program, Your Sales Doctors, we discussed this issue in our Selling 2.0 broadcast).

Establishing a system based on best practices should be a high priority for any sales management team. A key factor for best–in-class firms, best practices is really about senior managers committing to closing the gap in performance, whether it is in sales, operations and/or financial. The philosophy behind best practices is simple: there is no point in reinventing the wheel if it is possible to learn from another company, employee or consultant who has mastered a particular efficiency. By definition, best practices require that a culture of continuous improvement be put in place. Best-in-class companies implement the process as part of their culture. The Japanese call this continuous improvement —Kaizen — which was implemented in their industries by leading management consultant Dr. Edwards Deming, father of quality evolution.

There is no question that origination today is more difficult because prospects can easily filter out contacts. The first step in prospecting, getting a customer’s attention, can be extremely challenging. The typical strategy of managers directing producers to “go out and make a few cold calls” rarely builds a pipeline. It just doesn’t work in this new world of “pull” selling.

When you look at what top producers do, they implement best practices. Top producers plan how they will win, target what they will focus on, determine what resources are needed (if they need third party help, they will obtain it), then execute and revise what doesn’t work. That sounds pretty smart to me. Isn’t it time for companies to do the same?