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

Today I will present the 8th in my series of the Top 10 Sales Management Functions but it is #10 on my list.


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.