Sales Systems, Uhhhh…Really?

in Columns/Sales

By Tom Woodcock

So you’re telling me a sales system will take your business to the next level?

Your customers will adapt to your systematic approach to selling? Your people will work the system to a tee? Their personalities will freely flow in the confines of a step by step process? Plus you’re being promised a close rate of 80 percent if you incorporate this program?

All you have to do is spend 10, 15, 20, or 100,000 dollars to get the results you want? Plus, it works in any industry, just watch!

Then you go through the seminars, your people whining or fake telling you they love it all the way through, and “voila!” no results.

The only growth is in the sales system provider’s bank account.

I’ve gone through all of the biggies. There is a good point here or there, but in reality, you and your team are responsible for sales success.

I probably just ticked a bunch folks off that invested in one of these program formats. Believe me, that’s not my intention.

I’m just passionate about sales and hate when companies burn good money trying to make their sales dynamic a formula, especially in the construction industry, where you have a bidding pricing structure. Throw in the nature of the customer base and there isn’t a formula in the world that will create an a to z result if you follow all the steps there within.

I’m even seeing as young, inexperienced trainers implementing those programs. They’ve been trained on the teaching components and philosophy, but have little experience closing deals and finding opportunity. But they sure know how you should do it!

Okay, what’s the alternative? Get the Zig Ziglar type and rah, rah my employees to success? Well, I am one of those types at times, but I go a bit deeper.

Some people have an innate ability to connect with people. They own the room, make friends, and quickly gain trust. I couldn’t give you the percentage of people that fit in this category, but it may be larger than you think. These people are relatively receptive to sales and, with some training on sales basics and a decent CRM program, they’ll thrive.

For those that do not have quite the same skill set, selling can be a challenge, but successful nonetheless. Solid product knowledge, a good marketing plan and specific customer sales strategies can be worked effectively.

The greatest factor in driving a group to sales success is motivation. It is that simple.

Even a great rep is only going to have a 30-percent-to-40-percent close rate. That’s a lot of rejection. This can cause people to avoid sales work, make excuses, and reduce customer contact activity.

The more optimistic and genuine an individual is, the greater the results. Positive attitude and enthusiasm can overcome technical sales mistakes. They still require positive internal sales meetings and an industry specific, outside sales trainer to come in and reinforce company goals on occasion. But, that is much more cost effective and time conserving than buying into a “sales system.”

Much of what brings sales success is common sense. There is a certain amount of blocking and tackling, but in all honesty, it’s not very complicated.

Innovations do come into the sales process and those need to be evaluated and then implemented when effective. The problem is the more complex the sales formula, the less people will apply it.

Companies that try and force selling into a structured program negate the human aspect of sales. They insist that if you properly walk a customer down a certain path, you’ll get the desired result. That works in mathematics, but not in sales. Hard closing, cold calling, and making the customer uncomfortable make no sense when trying to get a customer to choose you.

Ask yourself this question; “Do I like being hard closed, cold called, or made uncomfortable?” Then why on earth would anyone think their customers would.

I’m fairly certain any sales organization reading this article is saying my name in vain. They’re probably trying to discredit me as an old fashioned sales guru who just doesn’t get it.

Zig! Hearing that up in heaven?

The thing is, I accomplished more in sales by being myself, supported by the companies I sold for and staying true to sales basics. Throw in a little creativity and BAM, sales success.

So, if you’re spending a ton of money on a formulaic sales system and you’re not satisfied, cut your losses. If you love it, awesome! My question to you would be two-fold. Are the promised results there? Are your people really embracing it? Obviously I’ve seen plenty of proof to wager the answer to both questions is “no.”

Maybe it’s time to go old school. Trust the talent you have or you’ve hired and work to support them internally as much as possible. The results may be pleasantly surprising.

Tom Woodcock, president, seal the deal, is a speaker and trainer to the construction industry nationwide. He can be reached at his website: or at 314-775-9217.