Why Your Sales Process or Sales System Doesn’t Work

Are you being forced to sell someone else’s way? Are you uncomfortable using a “system” of selling?


By Jeffrey Gitomer


Are you being forced to sell someone else’s way? Are you uncomfortable using a “system” of selling?

I read a report yesterday stating that 70 percent of all sales systems and sales initiatives fail. I have no idea who created that number (personally, I use 74 percent for all my statistical reports), but the point is clear: A “system” of selling and its accompanying sales process are pretty much doomed to failure before they begin.

Please do not e-mail me, telling me your system is the greatest and it works. Somebody is staking their claim that 70 percent or more do not work, and if yours is among the few that do, congratulations.

If your system works, it means you have a very small sales force, or that your system has been in place for so long that it’s refined to favor the customer, not the company.

For years, I’ve written about why systems of selling fail, but please be clear about my beliefs: Almost all systems of selling do not work, and along with them are the failures of the manipulative sales processes that are attached to them. I’m about to tell you WHY the system doesn’t work, and then offer strategies that do work. Maybe it will help you in your awareness and decision-making process as you try to elevate your sales skills—or your sales results, or even your sales team—to a level of superior.

FIRST FAILURE: The sales system is all about the company that prepared it. It’s not relevant to the sales professional or not engaging enough to the customer. It’s too much perceived work on the part of the salesperson for not enough results. It’s too much of a hassle. The person that trained it sucked.

SECOND FAILURE: The sales process is at odds with you AND the market. The process doesn’t include mobile application. The process is old. The process deals with manipulation. (“Find the pain,” “what keeps you up at night,” and “qualify the buyer.”) The process deals with things uncomfortable for sales executives. The process is not compatible with the way the company does business.

THIRD FAILURE: The sales leader who bought it isn’t convinced it’s going to work, he’s just using it as a CYA tactic. There is forced participation, rather than joint buy-in. The sales leader is more interested in his or her sales team being accountable for their activity, NOT being responsible for themselves and their outcomes.

FOURTH FAILURE: Senior management has not endorsed or used the process. Senior management won’t use the process themselves.

FEAR of FAILURE: The salesperson thinks it will cost them sales. Period.

Want more reasons systems fails? Here are lots—in no particular order. Pick the ones that best apply to you:
• No buy-in from sales staff BEFORE purchase.
• No collaboration with the people who will actually USE the system.
• The system and/or the process is too manipulative.
• Lack of proof that the system actually works in your environment.
• No proof that the system or process actually works in your market.
• The system does not match the salesperson’s style or personality.
• The system is not in any way customized for your salespeople or your customers.
• The system is not flexible.
• Natural resistance to change.
• Fear of lost sales.
• Resentment for being forced.
• Poor training by the launch person.
• Too much work perceived for not enough sales.
• Sales are low right now, and this is a stab at resurgence.
• Trying to fit a round sales peg in a square sales hole.

RESULT: You lose sales, lose salespeople, and there is lower morale. YIKES!

It’s most likely that many of these reasons apply to you or your system. Damn. But sales is NOT a system, nor is it a manipulative process. It’s a series of strategies that are in harmony with salespeople and their customers.

Here are some sales strategies that do work:
• Create a “go to sale” strategy that everyone is comfortable with: friendly, engaging, value-driven, conversational, and backed with proof from video testimonials.
• Everyone should participate in creating the sales strategies, from the CEO down.
• Collaborate with the sales team—they’re the ones that will USE the strategies.
• Create strategies that are flexible and comfortable. Have several different opening questions to choose from. Offer alternative ways to engage or close the sale.
• Have a “Value Proposition” in favor of the customer.
• Whatever the strategies are, they MUST start with social attraction.
• Whatever the strategies are, they MUST work in your environment.
• Whatever the strategies are, they MUST be easy to use and time efficient.
• Whatever the strategies are, they MUST be state-of-the art and state-of-the-market.

Collaborate with existing customers. Get them involved with and in agreement with the strategies you use.

Sales are all your revenue and all your profit. Salespeople are the conduit for all that revenue. Why would you jeopardize your money and your profit with a system that everyone will fight?

About the author

Jeffrey Gitomer is author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Red Book of Sales Answers.
P     | 704.333.1112
E     | salesman@gitomer.com