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The main difference between building a sales system and building a sales Department

Alexander Cherny, author of courses on strategic business development, a business practitioner, talks about how building a sales system differs from building a sales Department. What is the key difference and what is the basis of the sales system and is its main element
“The beginning and the end. Who wrongly buttoned the first button, will not be buttoned properly.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

In this article, we will not talk about systems in General, but specifically about the sales system.How does building a sales system differ from building a sales Department? What is the key difference? As well as what is at the heart of the sales system and is its main element?

What is the difference between building a sales system and building a sales Department?

I’ll start with the main thing. From the picture I gave earlier in my articles. See figure 1.

Figure 1. Sales system in the company based on a structural unit-the sales Department.

What elements of this figure relate to the sales system?
Sales Department as a structural unit and its interaction with the market (customers). Other divisions of the company, of course, also interact with the market.
Inputs and outputs (red arrows) — interaction of the sales Department with other divisions of the company.

1. Sales Department as a structural unit

I’ll start with a few examples.

Example 1. There are articles where it is written that the sales system is people and tools. That’s just not written what exactly brings people and tools into the system. And this question is key!

Example 2. Quite often, it is suggested to develop a “sales Book”. Even more often, these services offer not what the company needs, but what the performer believes in and has encountered. Therefore, almost all customer companies are offered the same design (a certain scheme of work), perhaps with minimal adjustments.

Example 3. It is often suggested to develop the organizational structure of the sales Department, perform work related to the search for sellers and their training, and so on. This is followed by the statement: “We have built a sales system for you!”Is this statement true? Take a look below. Up to what is described in example # 4.

Example 4. “And let’s make 5-7 roles, each role will perform its own function. One Manager will handle cold calls, another will hold first meetings with clients, a third will formulate offers to clients, and the 5th or 7th will conclude deals.”

At the same time, if we are talking about “large” or more or less complex sales, then it is not clear at all who builds relationships with the client? At the same time, it is quite obvious that there is no question of any continuity of information from one Manager to another. In reality, it is impossible to provide it in such a situation.

Which element of the sales system is the main one? What is the basis of the sales system? What is missing from the examples above?

The main element of the sales system (its basis) is a certain way organized business process. It is this business process that connects people and tools and brings them into the system. And this is what is missing from the examples above.

Therefore, the development of a sales system is, first of all, the development of the main business process of sales. If this work is not carried out, then we are not talking about any sales system at all!

Why should this business process be “organized in a certain way”? Because all companies are different. And in order to bring people and tools into the system, each company must develop its own business process that would be as effective as possible.

An example of a description of such a business process can be found in the article “how to develop a turnkey sales system: modeling the main business process”.

This article shows how to ensure the continuity of information from level to level by the overall business process.

The head of the direction should always know (and knows!), how and with whom its managers work, so it can always help them when working with specific clients at its level. Also, the head of the direction can always formulate a task to the commercial Director (CD) if he needs help at a higher level, and the CD, as a rule, is able to talk to the General Director (DG) in his own language.

The quality of business process development depends on the developer’s professionalism. However, this skill can be developed. Example 4 is a clear example of a completely wrong business process that will not work.

2. Inputs and outputs: interaction of the sales Department with other divisions of the company

The work of the sales system is certainly affected by the quality of the work of other divisions of the company. But! The CD cannot manage the production (or technical) Department. But it can escalate the problem above, for example, the company’s DG.

Here are short and simple examples.

Example 1. Let’s say that the production Department does not prepare technical and commercial proposals (TCH) well. Or indicates prices that are much higher than the market and are not pass-through in principle. In this case, the CD can escalate this problem higher, and then the top management simply has to review the policy of rates and margins.

Example 2. Let’s say that the production Department does not implement projects well and sellers suffer from this, since they are also motivated by profit. In this case, the CD can also escalate this problem higher — and then the top management simply has to review the General motivational policy, which may consist in the fact that sellers will be motivated from the planned profit, and project performers from the actual profit. Point:
Sellers do not suffer from how the project will be executed, since their task is still to sell! At the same time, the cost of the project at the time of preparation of the tap is agreed at all levels (there is a policy of rates and margins).
Project executors can earn more by completing the project faster and at a lower cost.
Conclusion: interaction with other departments at the input-output level must be part of the sales system. If there is a sales system that takes this interaction into account, then the commercial Director can influence the quality of this interaction. It is important.

A dear reader can say that the sales system, as one of the most important blocks, should “permeate” the entire company. Or it would be good to “permeate”. But this doesn’t happen! An engineer who needs (and is interested in) solving a technical problem — or an accountant who is “sitting on costs”, the sales system “to the light bulb”!

Key finding

Conclusion 1: the overall business process should bring sales Department employees and their tools into the system, as well as be developed for a specific company and be as efficient as possible.

Conclusion 2: the overall business process must take inputs and outputs into account when interacting with other departments. “Cement this interaction” will be:
The General motivational policy of the company, which should take into account, for example, the interests of sellers, and the interests of technologists and engineers. That is, it was cross-referenced. An example is given above.
Policy of rates and margins.
And so on-General documents in the company.
This is what distinguishes building a sales system from building a sales Department.

The business process developed and “sharpened” for a particular company will provide the basis for the formation of responsibility centers (CS) and giving the CS the main functions, which will allow you to develop an organizational structure, then — a documentary base (motivation for individual employees, job descriptions, and so on).


How to approach the development of the main element of the sales system — the main business process-is described in detail in the articles of the cycle “How to develop a turnkey sales system”. “Turnkey” means: development of the sales system, up to the development of individual and final documents for employees.

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