Sales leaders look for the edge that helps their team bring in more deals – often turning to the latest training program or best-selling book. And there are times that training is important – like when you’re onboarding a new staff member, going through a major transition, or adding a new tool.

To gain that competitive edge, sales teams need a documented, managed sales system.

A sales system isn’t your CRM or your sales automation tools. It’s not your list building software or your email templates. It is the step-by-step, pre-defined set of interactions that your sales team uses to identify, qualify and convert them, along with the tools they use to make those connections.

A sales system goes beyond the why and how that you learn from training. It creates procedures that your team can follow, taking out the guesswork and makes your process repeatable.

Of course, the importance of a system goes beyond just your sales process. You can leverage the importance of systems across your business (and your life). With your customer service department, train on complaint resolution – and take it further by implementing a case system that allows you to escalate cases and evaluate your performance. Productivity training makes a lasting impact on your team when it’s partnered with a project management or task tracking system that’s effective for your team.

How Sales Systems Help

People forget information quickly. According to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, we forget 42% of what we have learned within 20 minutes. Within 31 days – a typical onboarding timeline, we lose 79% of what we learned.

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Consider how much you’re investing in sales training – nearly two-thirds of which is forgotten before your team gets home for the day. It may be time to invest in designing and implementing a sales system to reinforce your best practices.

Tying a system to your training helps you:

  • Identify and measure what you want to accomplish. When documenting your system, build in your key performance metrics, including how you’ll measure them.
  • Identify what is working – and what isn’t. Measurements throughout your system help you leverage your high-value activities that are driving you forward. You can also focus on closing gaps.
  • Leverage the expertise of the people involved. When your team understands and trusts their system, they’re able to use their expertise to improve your systems and help close your customers.
  • Free up time for more important sales leadership activities – like coaching. Leveraging a sales system – not relying on training – allows you to dedicate time to building your team through coaching.

Don’t just “train to train” – train people to a repeatable system. Just as there’s no single best diet for everyone, there’s no single best sales system that works for everyone. You need to find one that’s the right fit for your team.

You can choose to start from an existing system, like the one we teach in Predictable University, based on the best-selling Predictable Revenue book. This system is based on the Cold Calling 2.0 methodology that I created at Salesforce.com to help ramp revenue faster. It’s a framework that uses a combination of phone calls, emails, and social to learn about companies and their pain points, connect with decision makers, and move them into a sales cycle – in a predictable and scalable way that works for students. Other popular systems that you may want to look at include Sandler, Challenger, Salesgravy or Barry Rheins’ Selling Through Curiosity.

Whatever you do, however you do it, anything you can do to systematize your lead generation and sales processes should be equally helpful to both management – who gets predictability – and to your salespeople, so they don’t have to figure things out on the fly every day and have more confidence that they have a proven path to making quota. If your people don’t see personal value to them in the changes you want to make, they’re more likely to ignore or even resist them.