Sales systems vs. sales symptoms

When sales suck, it’s tempting to jump straight to the sales conversion process, which is just one variable of the entire sales system, to diagnose failure. And this very often leads to remedies like finding “better” salespeople, or just going to get more of them. This is why job boards are littered with postings looking for “sales superstars” and “cold calling rockstars.” 


If you jump straight to the sales conversion process and diagnose failure without looking at the sales system as a whole, you will occasionally be right. As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day. But more often than not, sales aren’t underperforming simply because you don’t have a sales unicorn, or a team of them, in the driver’s seat. (Note: Team is very usefully what you call a group of salespeople and horses, so presumably sales unicorns as well.) 

Generally speaking, we define sales systems as the key points along the end-to-end customer journey. It’s not the same for every business, but a fairly common sales system we would develop with clients may look like this: 

  • The value proposition articulating the value you provide to your customer(s). 

  • The target market(s) defining who you are delivering that value to. 

  • The deliberate actions increasing awareness among the target market(s) that you exist. 

  • The lead generation process converting awareness into interest or desire. 

  • The sales conversion process converting leads into customers. 

  • The actions delivering the value proposition to the target market(s). 

  • The actions supporting customers and promoting retention. 

Broadly speaking, a sales system defines what value you deliver, to whom, how, and how do you keep doing so to that audience. 

Now, back to our underperforming sales scenario. 

If you’ve gone through an exercise of defining and documenting the key parts of your sales system, and the components leading up to sales conversion are performing just fine, you may have a need to improve that part of the process. By all means, start recruiting, hiring, training, coaching and managing more effectively.  

If, however, you haven’t clearly defined and documented all those components leading up to the sales conversion process, you’re drawing a conclusion about a whole system with only a very small portion of the data you need to offer an accurate diagnosis. 

From our experience, if you need to hire sales magicians to convert business, you aren’t clear on: 

  • What value you deliver (or you don’t deliver value). 

  • Who - specifically - you deliver that value to. 

  • How your prospective customer knows you deliver what you deliver. 

When you lack that on the front end, you end up looking for Houdini-like sales people that can sell an unclear value proposition to an unclear market that have never heard of you. 

If you need help analyzing your current sales system, we are here to help. Undergoing the process creates a wealth of discoveries that, more often than not, can be used immediately to drive improvements. 

If you are clear on all those components and just need a better sales conversion approach, have no fear, we actually do that, too. We just like to be sure that when we deliver a solution, it is the one you actually need. 

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