The toughest thing about using a system isn’t following a step-by-step plan as most salespeople are great at leveraging those. Instead, the hardest part is having a system to use at all.
When salespeople and their leaders think about creating systems, it can become overwhelming. Where to start? With pipeline stages? Outreach campaigns? Call scripts? Discovery questions?
As we explained in Bulletproof Selling, there isn’t a place where systems can’t be used across a sales cycle. However, creating a system has to start where salespeople are struggling or where someone is succeeding and others on the team want to model that success. For that reason, sales leaders like Joseph Fung advocate salespeople create sales checklists as they encounter problems or discover solutions.
Because we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: Joseph recommends the trigger for this system begins not with the prospect but with the salesperson – and it’s every time the feeling of dread and anxiety appears. That’s a signal that we have room for improvement, and it’s also an invitation to create a checklist we can use to improve.
Additionally, every time something goes right and another salesperson or manager asks, “How did you do that?”, it’s also an invitation to create a best practices checklist around that sale or issue.
R – Repeatable: To make the way we build checklists repeatable, Joseph says salespeople must carve time out of their meetings to dissect the process a person used to achieve success or ways to improve a challenge that folks are encountering. Those processes form the foundation of checklists that can then be stored in the shared CRM, in a training binder or even on a sheet of paper that salespeople can fill out as they conduct outreach and talk to prospects.
The most important part of making this repeatable, according to Joseph, isn’t where to capture our checklists. Instead, it’s that we take the time to ask tough questions of ourselves. Whether that’s a sales enablement specialist or a savvy sales leader, ensure the time is blocked during sales meetings to discover new opportunities for checklists based on what salespeople are challenged with today.
I – Improvable: One danger with improving checklists is that we can create ‘false positives’ on success by not using checklists or not following all the steps. Sales are happening, so all must be working with our checklists, right?
Not so fast, Joseph says. He advises the best way to improve a checklist is to give someone who’s never seen the checklist before the chance to use it for a month. If they can execute the checklist and it works, then you know you have a winning formula. However, our experience is that a new checklist user will always have questions and ideas for improving it – even if it is working for everyone else on the sales team.
M – Measurable: To measure the effectiveness of checklists, don’t just focus on closed sales or leads entered into the pipeline. A checklist’s effectiveness happens in process adherence. Choose a part of an important checklist and take a look at your team’s deals, or your own if you’re running your own checklist. Is that area being followed, even if it isn’t the part of the checklist that closes a sale?
By measuring process adherence, we can ensure our checklists are creating the systemization that we can measure, improve and use to create more value for our customers.