What is the best way to build or improve a sales organization? Some managers simply take the “throw the baby in the water and see if he can swim approach”. Without any preparation or forethought, or a plan of any kind, they just start hiring in a new organization or making changes in an existing one and then start trying to get the team selling, planning to improve as they go.

Have you ever seen this? It can go bad fast, and often does.

Is there a better way? YES! And I met a golf instructor recently who understands and illustrates this clearly. I took a golf lesson from this instructor a short while ago.

In that first lesson, I never saw a golf ball.

I am a total novice, so first, the teacher told me a bit about his teaching approach. Then we worked on how to hold the club. Then we talked about some principles of body mechanics involved in the swing.  Then finally, near the end of the lesson, we did some half swings.

It was a great lesson. I came away with a really clear understanding of what we would be working on and towards in the weeks to come.

Conversely, I was hired to sell a golf training product a few decades ago, and the golf pro who was working on the project told me he would teach me to play golf.  We went to a driving range and he told me to hit the ball, then he started correcting.  I never got it.  His incremental suggestions for improvement had no context, no clear goal, no underlying rational.  I just spent a lot of time hitting the ball badly before burning out and giving up. If we only knew that there was a better way! By the way, this does not contradict my statement above that I am a total novice – I learned exactly nothing!

These two approaches to golf training are a perfect analogy for sales organization improvement.

Managers who choose the “just start hitting balls” approach never set clear expectations; never establish clear, metrics based accountability; and inhibit communication with their teams.  Usually, finding the hoped-for “time to improve as things progress” never materializes, and even if it does, then time is spent correcting bad habits – without context – and often without much success.

The other approach – in which sales a manager first develops a metrics based sales process, then hires based on the process, sets salespeople expectations to the process, manages to the process, and trains weaknesses identified through measured execution of the process – is a much different experience.

You can imagine which has better results.  The more thoughtful approach takes more investment on the front end, but pays a better return in the short, medium and long run. Think about that – I’m going to go practice for my next golf lesson!

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David