Systems. Some people love them, others don’t. Yet systems drive everything from our bodies to our businesses.
In working with small businesses over the last 20 years, I’ve noted that smart business owners set up all kinds of systems to gain efficiencies in core functions such as product/service delivery, accounting, procurement, etc. Yet many don’t take the same approach for their sales function.
Instead they follow a few typical paths:
- The owner continues to be the main “rainmaker” with some marketing help for leads and branding.
- The owner realizes they don’t have the time for sales and taps someone on the team to, “Sit in on meetings and watch me so you can work with these prospects in the future.”
- The owner hires a sales rep and sets them loose, expecting they’ll know what to do.
Too often those approaches blow up and the owner/founder decides they are the only person who can sell what they offer and take all the responsibility for sales back, limiting the growth of their business.
That unfortunate cycle repeats itself over and over again in too many small businesses.
But there is a better way!
A Simple Small Business Sales System
When the sales function is designed like all other business functions and the What, Who, and Hows are identified and documented, the owner removes the dependency of growth from their shoulders and accelerates the entire business.
To set up a scalable sales system, the basic components include:
- Process (the What)
- People (the Who)
- Playbook (the How)
Process. Identify the stages (the What) for converting a lead to a client with the specific objective, key actions, buyer commitments sought, and resources for each step.
A challenge in identifying the process for others is that what works for the owner may not be as successful when someone else takes it over. The new person won’t have the same reputation, know the nuances, or have the same risk tolerance as the owner.
The key components for each stage includes:
The Objective of the stage. Identify the outcome needed.
The second component are the Key Actions taken when a prospect is located. List actions taken before any meeting, during the meeting, and after the meeting.
The third component is the Buyer Commitment which shows with certainty that step is completed, and the buyer is moving to the next step.
And the final component is identifying the Resources available for success in each step. List the resources used internally like the CRM and templates as well as externally-used resources like brochures, samples, or questionnaires.
People. Use the Process to identify the type of person (the Who) needed to be successful in completing the actions and stages of the sale.
Create a profile of the person who can accomplish the process by listing the qualities, skills, and experience to. This profile increases the probability of recruiting, selecting, and hiring the right person for selling.
Also identify other team members who can support the seller and complete specific actions within the process. For example, administrative team members can take care of some of the actions before and after meetings which frees up time for the seller for sourcing and converting leads.
Playbook. The Playbook (the Hows) builds from the Process and outlines the specific Hows for being successful in each step.
Some people call this their “sales bible,” but I wouldn’t take it that far. In selling, too much structure and scripting can kill the human dynamics needed to build trust and win sales. Scripting is helpful for learning and practice, but when people get the cadence and language flowing in their own words, it’s more natural for the buyer and seller.
A starter Playbook should include instructions and templates for the following:
- Ideal client profiles
- Value statements to easily explain your benefits
- Templates for prospecting efforts
- Questions to ask prospects to identify problems, opportunities, wants, and needs
- Specifics for educating and explaining the value of the solution
- Tips for working through the most common objections for the product or service being sold
- How to ask for the various decisions
- An explanation of the resources that support sales efforts
- Follow-up messaging templates
- Proposal templates
- Resources and tools used in the process
The Playbook may be simple to start with, featuring quick videos, short checklists, or overview notes and can grow from there.
Like all other systems in a small business, the effort to identify the sales system will take some time at first but have a substantial payoff later.
What’s the payoff for a sales system? When your sales Process, People, and Playbook are outlined, you’ll have clarity, efficiency, and more closed sales for your business.