Sales Systems and Processes - 8th of the 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 01, 2009 @ 07:12 AM

Today I will present the 8th in my series of the Top 10 Sales Management Functions but it is #10 on my list.  Why am I going out of order?  Last week was the Thanksgiving Holiday, I have a non-stop week, I'm behind on this series and #10 corresponds with the upcoming (12/3/09) webinar.


Systems and processes are your sales infrastructure - everything that is not your people. A lot of us use the two words interchangeably. So what is the difference between systems and processes? Wikipedia says that a system is a "set of interdependent entities forming an integrated whole". Wikipedia has dozens of context-specific definitions for process.  I have adapted their Business Process definition for sales and came up with "activities or tasks that produce a specific outcome".

So, the following processes would make up our primary system:

  • Sales
  • Recruiting
  • Sales Management
  • Metrics or Measurables
  • Pipeline
  • Compensation
  • Territory Management
  • On Boarding
  • Development

We would also have additional systems:

  • Sales Force Automation (I like Membrain)
  • Lead Generation or Inbound Marketing (I like Hubspot)

In the (December 3, 2009) webinar I'll be discussing Pipeline - How you can close more sales simply by managing it more effectively.  There are several little understood components of the pipeline. I'll talk about staging it, having criteria for each stage, and the advantages of making it Visual.  I'll also discuss the importance of the first stage, how you can guarantee you'll hit your numbers every month, how to make it more accurate and predictive, and the crucial metrics you'll need to make it all work.

The important thing to understand about systems and processes is that you must have them in place, supporting your sales organization, prior to the start of any development program.  You can't start training and coaching salespeople before a sales process is in place.  You can't hold salespeople accountable before the metrics and pipeline are in place.  You can't hire salespeople and expect them to perform before you have recruiting, compensation, on boarding and sales management processes in place.  You don't have to get them perfect on your first attempt, getting it close perfect makes a huge difference!

Here are some articles I've written with more details about the various systems and processes:

This article talks about the sales process and has been nominated for article of the month for December 2009 (I wrote it in November of 2008 - they must be behind too!) You can vote for it here.

Top 10 Sales Articles - Article of the Month - vote here

This article is about sales metrics and the sales pipeline. This article talks about how to make the sales pipeline more accurate and predictive. This is my favorite article on the insights that can be captured from an well managed sales pipeline.  Finally, this recent article talks about Sales KPI's or metrics. Metrics are the numbers we can measure that drive revenue.  We're talking performance here. Accounting has EBIDTA. Manufacturing has Quality. Business has Revenue, a measure of growth, not performance. In sales there are literally dozens of numbers we can choose to measure but revenue is never a number that measures performance and it's always, without exception, a lagging indicator.  To measure sales performance, you must look at future indicators.  What are they?  This article examines how sales metrics can be used. This article examines sales metrics in the context of recruiting where efficiency is the goal.


(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management functions, sales system, recruiting process, sales metrics

What Really Creates Sales Excellence?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 13, 2008 @ 21:11 PM

If you are like me, you're receiving email invitations to attend webinars at the rate of 10 to 20 per day.  And you're getting the exact same invitations every single day from the exact same companies.  And some of them promise the solution to all of your sales problems - sales excellence solutions.  Take a look at the invitations I received today alone!

  • IDC - Sales Advisory Service (they provide research reports and hold seminars where they report on their research and provide sales enablement advice)
  • Savo Group (their tag line is "never sell alone" - they tap into your sales teams' knowledge and make it available on demand)
  • Xactly (they have online applications that optimize compensation and incentives)
  • Landslide (they have the best sales workstyle management application so that your salespeople follow your process and enter the appropriate sales cycle information to produce the reports you need to see)
  • Avitage (they provide central storage for and an application for taking the visual and audio nuggets and putting just the right message together so that your salespeople deliver the email/web message that you want them to)

I may not have their messaging the way they want it but it's my sense of what they do. But their webinar announcements all promise to improve sales effectiveness.  Can they?  Do they?  What do you think of when you hear that you can increase or improve sales effectiveness?

What they can't do is make your salespeople any more competent, although Savo and Avitage might disagree.  They can't make your salespeople any more motivated although Xactly might disagree.  And they can't make them any more effective, although Landslide might disagree.

All of these applications are systems which optimize and improve efficiencies, standardization, attention to details, access to information, and how to use the information you get. They don't train and develop your salespeople and the only way to make them better is through evaluation, training and development.  Evaluation identifies all of the people, systems and strategy issues that need to be addressed.  Training is the process by which skills are transferred while development is the process by which their strengths are developed and weaknesses overcome. If you train and develop your people and then utilize these services then yes, you'll improve sales excellence.  These application are far more effective when you've already worked with a sales force development expert, developed a sales process and developed your salespeople.  Then these applications can be aligned with true best practices, as opposed to the practices in place prior to development.

I can tell you first hand how good Landslide is - I use it and recommend it to all of my clients.

I can tell you first hand how insightful Lee Levitt, the  IDC Sales Advisory practice Director, is. I have met Lee and read his articles.

I met Jim Burns from Avitage and saw his demo but haven't used the application yet.

I spoke with someone from Savo Group and saw their demo but haven't used the application yet.

And I haven't met or spoken with anyone from Xactly yet.

What really creates sales excellence?  No one thing - ever. A combination of things - always.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, sales process, sales training, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales excellence, sales evaluation, sales compensation, sales system, Xactly, Avitage, Savo, IDC, sales effectiveness, Landslide

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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