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Systems for selling? Don’t waste your time on ‘em

I’m against all systems of selling. So are all salespeople.
Oh, sales systems are taught all the time. In fact, almost all salespeople learn one along the way. During speaking engagements, I ask every audience I’m in front of, “How many of you have learned some system of selling?” About two-thirds of the hands go up. “Keep your hand in the air if you use that system every time you go on a sales call.” All hands go down. All.

“Why?” I challenge them. “Too manipulative.” “Round hole-square peg.” “Doesn’t always fit.” “Not comfortable using it,” they scream.

Now, it’s not fair for me to mention systems by name. But the reason I’m against selling systems is that they’re all manipulative. They’re all “me-based.” They’re all too rigid.

And the worst thing about them is that they force the salesperson to think: “Where am I in the system?” vs. “How am I helping this person in his or her desire to purchase what I’ve got?”

So what’s a salesperson to do? Develop a strategy, develop an approach and develop the ability to engage the other person in a way that grabs his interest — so you don’t have to worry about a system. Build a structure — not a system.

Please understand, I’m not saying that learning a system is ALL bad. I’m saying that learning a system and trying to follow it on every sales call is wrong. Anything you learn about selling will help you — either in what to do or what not to do. All systems offer something you can take away and put into your sales arsenal — something that will help you get better at selling.

But by using a “structure” rather than a “system,” you’ll have more flexibility with the situation at hand (better known as real-world). By structuring, you put things in order, you develop methodology, and you create tools. Once you do that, you can go about the engagement process by creating an atmosphere in which people will want to buy from you.

Systems of selling force the salesperson to think: “Am I following the system?” Or worse: “Where am I in the system?” This is particularly unpleasant when the salesperson is in the middle of a sales presentation and instead of thinking “How can I help?” she is thinking “Am I on step two or step three?” Crazy when you think about it.

And if you have a structure, how flexible is it? The key to your structure is that it must focus on the needs and desires of your potential customer and the customer’s motive for buying — not on your skill in selling. Ask — don’t tell. Help — don’t sell.

If you think about the logical, sequential order of a sales structure, it involves…

• making a connection

• making an appointment

• getting ready for the sale

• engaging the prospect in a way that you gain his interest

• proving the value of your offer

• coming to some kind of an agreement

• delivering

• servicing

• creating an environment that’s so phenomenal that the customer is compelled to buy from you again, refer other people to you and speak about you positively in the marketplace.

Master those elements, and the world is your commission.
Now that seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Just add two words to this formula, and you’ll become a billionaire. Have you guessed the two words yet? They’re two words that most salespeople don’t want to hear: HARD WORK.

No ultra-successful salesperson becomes ultra-successful without ultra-hard work.

Let me take this process one step higher. The process of approach, strategy and structure is driven by philosophy. Your philosophy will determine your structure. How you think about, feel about and live the practices of your sales life will be reflected in your philosophy.

My sales philosophy is…

1. I give value first.

2. I help other people.

3. I strive to do my best at what I love.

4. I establish long-term relationships with everyone.

5. I have fun — every day.

This philosophy set the stage for my success. Living my philosophy makes me a better salesperson — and a better person.

Do you have a philosophy? Do you have a structure? Create both and you set the stage for a quantum leap forward.

If you’d like a nice copy of my sales philosophy, go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time user — and enter the word PHILOSOPHY in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail


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