The Sales Operating System:  avoiding tactical solutions to strategic problems

What if I told you I have been thinking about getting into better shape? You’d probably say, “Go for it, Rick – nothing can hold you back!” Great; but what if I said to reach my goal, all I’m going to do is eat Tofu?

 Relying solely on Tofu as a health and wellness tool is silly. You know it. I know it. Sure, I may drop a few pounds if that’s all I eat, but Tofu alone won’t help me achieve lasting results. If anything, it would need to be one small piece in a larger and more detailed strategic plan geared toward achieving real lifestyle changes.

 I tell you this because it’s a good analogy to drive home the idea we have here at Axiom that, in the sales world, sales leaders at all levels need an all-encompassing sales operating system if they intend on building a high-performance sales machine. Furthermore, they need to avoid tools that, when used independently, keep them chasing tactical solutions that largely fall flat in fixing their strategic problems. For example, maybe their team is struggling at forecasting or just isn’t good at prospecting, so they think, “Let’s sign them up for a prospecting class.”

Statistically, just doing a sales training course might result in about 20% of your salespeople actually using what they learned with most of them forgetting everything in less than six weeks.

That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially considering the market is set up for sales leaders to have their pick of whatever sales tool they want to try next. While researching for this blog post, I learned there are 800 sales tools and applications on the market. On top of that, Google “sales management,” and you’ll get 1.25 billion results.

All of that makes you wonder, “If all of them are the definitive answer to my sales issues, why are there so many? And what’s the answer?” The answer is a sales operating system. A sales operating system is the way you do things as a sales team. It’s uniformed, strategic, and is composed of four key pillars that, when combined, give you long-term results.

  • Process – Any team must have a process that guides each team member in the same direction and toward a common goal. If people are guessing or doing things differently than the person next to them, then you’re not doing it right.
  • People – Once you have a sales process in place, you must have salespeople who have the capacity, skill, and knowledge to execute that process. Furthermore, you have to make sure your process works for the people you have.
  • Tools – A coach will give their people the tools they need to be successful. And like we mentioned earlier, there are plenty. There are applications, templates, and innovative technology around every corner, and they all exist to help you efficiently execute your process. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all world. The tools must fit your sales operating system.
  • Metrics – It’s important to have objective ways to assess the quality and impact of each of the three previous pieces to the sales operating system. This can include clear metrics on process execution and the adoption of tools and their impact. With metrics in place, you can identify gaps in the process and figure out what the root cause is.

Using any one of these four pillars independently will give you a bump in your sales efforts, but when used together, it keeps the machine running smoothly while filling performance gaps before they get worse.

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Rick Smith, CEO

Rick is the CEO at Axiom Sales Force Development. His philosophy is centered around building a strong operational foundation and taking a proactive and results-driven approach to partner with clients to achieve success. Rick holds a bachelor’s degree in counseling and earned his master’s degree in human resources training and development. Prior to working in technology with companies like PeopleAnswers and Infor, he spent the first 15 years of his career working with families and children in the non-profit sector and now serves on the board of The Hope Clinic in his local community. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, working out, and listening to audiobooks or podcasts. Rick is passionate about continuous learning and improvement and helping others move from "I can't" to "I can".

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Topics: Better Coaching, Better Selling

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