The Qualifying Conundrum

Some people love systems; others don’t. Yet systems drive everything from our bodies to our businesses.

Smart business owners set up all kinds of systems to gain efficiencies in core functions such as product/service delivery, accounting, procurement, etc. Yet many don’t take the same approach for their sales function.

Instead they follow a few typical paths:

  • The owner continues to be the main “rainmaker” with some marketing help for leads and branding.
  • The owner realizes they don’t have the time for sales and taps someone on the team to, “Sit in on meetings and watch me so you can work with these prospects in the future.”
  • The owner hires a sales rep and sets them loose, expecting they’ll know what to do.

None of those look like bad ideas, but too often they blow up and the founder thinks they are the only person who can sell what they offer. Worse, the founder takes on all the responsibility for sales activities, limiting the growth of their business.

This unfortunate cycle repeats itself over and over again in many small businesses.

It’s time to stop the madness!

Simple Small Business Sales System

The sales function can be designed like all other business functions. Defining and identifying the Whats, Whos, and Hows removes the dependency on the owner and accelerates the growth for the entire business.

A simple, scalable sales system, includes these basic components:

  • Process (the What)
  • People (the Who)
  • Playbook (the How)

Sales Process

The process should have clear defined stages (the What) for converting a lead to a client with the specific objective, key actions, buyer commitments sought, and resources for each step.

A challenge in identifying the process for the business is that what currently works for the owner may not be as successful when someone else takes it over. The new person doesn’t have the same reputation, understanding of the nuances, or the same risk tolerance as the owner.

The 4 key components for a well-defined Sales Process includes:

  1. Objective. Identify the outcome for that stage. Is it to secure a decision? Earn an introduction? Receive specific documents? Have a meeting scheduled? Clarity here ensures a higher probability for the outcome.
  2. Key Actions taken during that stage. List actions taken before any meeting, during the meeting, and after the meeting.
  3. Buyer Commitment What does the buyer need to do or decide which shows with certainty that step is completed, and the buyer is moving to the next step? Is it a decision, scheduled meeting, authorization/signature, introduction made, etc.?
  4. Resources needed for success in each step. List the resources used internally like the CRM and templates as well as the resources that are used with the prospect to help them at that stage of their decision making. These are externally-used resources like brochures, documents, software, apps, samples, or questionnaires.


With the Sales Process in focus, identify the person (the Who) needed to successfully complete the actions within each stage.

Create a profile of the person who can accomplish the process by listing the qualities, skills, and experience. This profile increases the probability of recruiting, selecting, and hiring the right person for selling.

Also identify other team members who can support the seller to complete specific actions within the process. For example, administrative team members can tackle some of the actions before and after meetings which frees up time for the seller for sourcing and converting leads.


The Playbook (the Hows) builds from the Sales Process and outlines the specific Hows for being successful in each step.

Some people call this their “sales bible,” but I wouldn’t take it that far. In selling, too much structure and scripting can kill the human dynamics needed to build trust and win sales. Scripting is helpful for learning and practice, but when people get the cadence and language flowing in their own words, it’s more natural for the buyer and seller.

A starter Sales Playbook should include instructions and templates for the following:

  1. Ideal client profiles
  2. Value statements to easily explain your benefits
  3. Templates for prospecting efforts
  4. Questions to ask prospects to identify problems, opportunities, wants, and needs
  5. Specifics for educating and explaining the value of the solution
  6. Tips for working through the most common objections for the product or service being sold
  7. How to ask for the various decisions
  8. An explanation of the resources that support sales efforts
  9. Follow-up messaging templates
  10. Proposal templates
  11. Resources and tools used in the process

The Playbook may be simple to start with, featuring quick videos, short checklists, or overview notes and can grow from there.

Like all other systems in a small business, the effort to identify the sales system will take some time at first but have a substantial payoff later.

What’s the payoff for having your own sales system?

  • Less dependency on the owner/founder
  • More closed sales
  • Repeatable best practices
  • Efficiency
  • Opportunity for others to be involved

Bottom line: A clear Process, People, and Playbook mean business growth.

For more information about the power of a scalable system listen to this podcast I did with David Jenyns on System Hub 


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