Transform Sales from Chaos to Clarity with a Sales Operating System

Liz Heiman,
01.02.24 11:58 AM Comment(s)

Transform Sales from Chaos to Clarity with a Sales Operating System

CEOs and founders often talk about sales as if it is a black box. They feel like they drop leads into the top of the funnel and hope something comes out the bottom. It shouldn’t be that way! While sales will always be somewhat unpredictable, the better your sales operating system functions, the more predictable and reliable your sales growth will be.

Sales Operating System

Sales Operating System (SOS)  is the infrastructure needed to run a sales organization that is manageable and predictable. Your SOS includes the strategies, the frameworks, and the systems that support you’re your sales organization to deliver the sales you need.

Often, when people think of sales operations, they think of tech tools and training. Those are the things that support the sales operating system, not the system itself. The sales operating system is the strategies, processes and systems that keep your team running. The mission is to implement the system and frameworks that will support the strategy you have created to achieve your goals for the company.

Components of a Sales Operating System

An effective Sales Operating System has 4 components.  The first component is the strategy.  It starts with a vision for the company and a strategic plan.  From there you can build other strategies and strategic frameworks to achieve the vision.


The second component is systems.  Your organizations will be able to achieve the strategic goals when they have functioning systems and processes that will support the behaviors required to achieve the goals.


No system works well unless is managed and reinforced.  The world moves naturally from order to disorder, and your sales team is no different. They will always do what is quickest and easiest. Not always what will get the results you want.


Finally, every system needs to be assessed. Do you have all the right components? Are they all working the way they should? What needs to change to get better results?

The next few pages will give you some ideas about what kinds of things to think about in each component.

Strategy & Framework

Sales is not a series of fortunate accidents; it is the result of well-planned and executed strategies. A strategy is the plan to get from where you are now to where you want to be. 

Your sales team will need both the company Strategic Plan and the Sales Strategy. It probably doesn’t seem like a strategic plan has much to do with sales, but if the sales team is going to be effective, they need to buy into the vision, values, and mission as much as they need to buy into the goals. When they don’t understand, it is hard for them to sound like true believers.


Your sales strategy is the plan to achieve the goals laid out in the strategic plan.  The Sales Strategy will also include a Lead Generation Strategy to support the Sales Strategy and Account Strategies to penetrate and grow large accounts.

It will help your team to have frameworks associated with the strategies that help them stay in the guide rails. A framework is a set of descriptions and rules that help us understand how things work. Every company should have a sales positioning framework that lays out how your company and product fit into the marketplace. You should also have a sales communication framework to set up guidelines around communicating with prospects and customers. That framework should include a value proposition for each persona to help sellers and marketers understand how to frame messaging that helps prospects see your value.

System and Process

The more complex your selling environment, the more important the systems and processes that support it are. It is common to have a lead generation process (often in marketing) and to have a sales process that lays out the steps of the sale. After that, things tend to happen more haphazardly than systematically. The more systematic the activities in the sales arena are, the fewer the mistakes, and the more consistent the results. Make sure that the lead generation process is delivering qualified leads that are worth the seller’s time.  One of the biggest areas of confusion is the handoff from marketing to sales.  Many leads get lost in the handoff.


It is critical that sellers follow the sales process, making sure to communicate with all the buyers and avoid skipping steps when possible. Once that sales process is established, there needs to be an opportunity management process to follow the leads from start to close.  When the sales process breaks down, so do sales results.


Salespeople are notorious for being independent, self-motivated, and extroverted.  They tend to disdain processes and systems.  Despite that, they are more effective when they follow systems and processes that support their success. For those reasons, it is difficult to manage salespeople. What you can do instead is manage the processes and hold your salespeople accountable for fulfilling certain expectations. The clearer the expectations and the more consistently they are reinforced, the more likely your salespeople will be to follow them. As soon as you stop managing and reinforcing the processes, they will stop following them.


Establish structure around team meetings, one-to-ones, coaching sessions, and funnel reviews. Set the expectations about what will happen before, during and after.  Don’t veer from the expectations. Once they know what to expect, they will know how to prepare and will be prepared.  If they aren’t prepared, don’t let them off the hook.


Consistency around the right behaviors will improve results every time.  

Implementing your system

Your Sales Operating System is unique to your company. It isn’t plug-and-play, and there are no shortcuts. You must match the strategies, systems, and processes to the specific realities of your company.  Once you create your SOS, it is critical that everyone who touches the system understands it. The sales operating system isn’t just for sales. Marketing, operations, accounting, and anyone else who interacts with the process must understand and support it.


Once everyone understands it, set out the expectations about how everyone will interact with the system.  Make sure they understand the rules, the cadences and the outcomes expected.  No one is exempt. Don’t accept excuses. Once you set out the expectations, everyone must use the SOS. That means everyone is working toward the same strategies and goals.  Everyone understands what their role is in achieving those goals.  Everyone is following the process and using the systems.


Reinforcement is a MUST.  If leadership indicates at any time that it is OK to skip steps or ignore the rules, people will.  As a result, the system will fall apart, and the growth will stall, or sales will decline.

Cultural Change

The sales operating system represents a cultural change in your organization, and that kind of change is never easy. So, the question for you is, can you do it and is it worth it?

If you want a predictable revenue stream to manage the unmanageable, fewer mistakes, and more sales revenue, it is worth the effort it will take to create, implement, and reinforce your sales operating system.


Good Luck!  If you need help getting started, schedule a no-cost, no-obligation call with a sales strategist.

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Liz Heiman,