Sales June 13, 2022

The CEO’s guide to building a world-class sales system

Great salespeople and amazing sales figures don’t just come from natural talent. They also come from tried and tested skills and processes, as well as a great sales system. 

But how can you ensure that your sales system is up to scratch? 

Our colleagues at Vistage US have created a detailed guide to help CEOs build a sales system that truly is world-class. Read on to find out how to make it happen.


Download the full white paper here.


Consider the buying process

Every customer is unique. However, the process that they follow to take them to the point of purchase is often common and predictable. Understanding the stages that form this journey is vital. Your sales process should complement each of these stages to truly succeed. 

There are many other variables to consider during the buying process. 

There is a significant difference between buying products, which is often fairly transactional, and buying solutions, which often require a degree of customisation, configuration and integration. 

There are differences between selling to a brand new customer with no prior experience of your business, and an established customer, who already trusts your business and whose requirements you already know. 

It’s also important to consider the customer management ecosystem as a whole, rather than a siloed approach. The relationship between marketing, sales and customer service will shift at different points in the buying process, and will vary from customer to customer. However, alignment between the three is critical to sales success.


Current performance

Every quarter, our Vistage CEO Confidence Index provides a barometer of how SME CEOs are feeling about the year ahead, covering everything from their thoughts on the overall economy to elements of their own business. 

In recent years, this Index has shown a disconnect between CEO satisfaction with sales, and actual sales performance. 

Data from the US white paper reveals that 69% of CEOs were satisfied with their sales team’s performance. However, just 33% reported that their sales team had met or exceeded their growth target in the previous year. 

Similarly, just 14% stated that they were dissatisfied with the performance of their sales team. However, 38% of SME CEOs reported that they achieved 80% or under of their growth target. 

Every CEO wants their business to grow. However, with growth coming from increased sales, it is clear from these stats that something may need to change. 


Building a world-class sales system

As a business grows and its sales team expands, so the sales process will need to change accordingly. However, the presence of a clearly defined sales system is important from the off. 

“Let’s figure it out as we go” may seem like the easiest approach. Building a sales system, however, will ensure that each of your sales people is following a proven process.


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A sales system is a framework that approaches selling holistically, building on prior strategies and decisions. It consists of four components that put a conscious sales strategy into action. 

These four components are: 

  • The customer - understanding buyer behaviour
  • The salesperson - aligning with how buyers buy
  • The sales leader - driving performance and execution
  • Sales support - empowering the sales professional

Each of these four components both builds on and is reliant on the data from the other components. 

Your challenge, as a CEO, is to establish what has already been achieved in your sales function, determine its relative success, and understand where your business has the potential to achieve at higher levels.  

Selling is all about performance. World-class performance doesn’t happen by chance. You’ll need to adapt to markets, economies and your growth trajectory, while keeping customers at your core. By developing a sales system that matches your buyers, markets and product/solution capabilities - and adhering to its principles - you’ll give your business the best possible chance of sales success. 


To learn about developing a world-class sales system in more detail, read the white paper here.

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