Sales Tips: There's No Shortcut to Sales Improvement
By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling®
If you’re a sales leader, let me start by asking a question:
Do you really want to change your sales team’s performance or just check the ‘training box’ to demonstrate to someone you’re doing something?
For those of you who follow me, I’ve always tried to provide you with actionable information, not theory. My feeling is if you are taking the time to read what I write, that I want to provide you with information that will not only educate and inform, but also help. Maybe you will even decide to put it into practice immediately. In keeping with that theme, this particular piece is targeted at sales managers and executive sales leaders. It’s direct and hard-hitting. It’s real talk.
Serious about Change or Just Going through the Motions?
I’ve had some very frustrating/disappointing conversations with senior sales managers and executives since around mid-June. I have quickly concluded that they saw their second quarter revenue performance not being as strong as they promised/forecast it would be, and in an attempt to get out in front of the sh*t storm that they knew was coming following quarter-end, they contacted me in an attempt to “circle the wagons,” obtain some help, and demonstrate to their management that they were “on it.”
Unfortunately, the requirement for any help they were seeking always came down to how long it would take and how much it would cost. Very few wanted to talk about WHY the salespeople were failing and WHAT type of help they needed to improve their performance and achieve their revenue targets.
Everyone I spoke with was looking for a Band-Aid, some quick, inexpensive fix that was going to solve all his/her sales performance issues. Well, guess what?
There is no quick fix!
I repeat: There is no quick fix!
What does REAL sales improvement look like?
Companies that are successful in improving the performance of their salespeople and raising the entire sales organization’s performance to a superior level do four (4) things:
- They recognize that trying to place a Band-Aid on a gaping wound simply won’t work. Sure, it would allow them to check the “training box,” but the sales training vendor selection would be driven by price and time, not by what needed to be accomplished with the sales team. Yugo and Mercedes Benz are both automobiles. There are documented reasons and results as to why a Mercedes Benz costs more. Just look in a junkyard. Now recall all the money you have spent on sales training programs in the past with minimal and unsustainable results. How full is that junkyard?
- They select and implement a defined, dynamic sales process. A sales process that the entire sales staff can be trained to execute; that sales managers can implement, monitor, inspect, and provide both skill and opportunity coaching; and that represent best sales practices. They do not select the low cost ‘parlor tricks’ that are not applicable to today’s knowledgeable and sophisticated buyers. Nor do they accept some ‘light’ version of the necessary sales training that has been cannibalized/water-downed by the provider to fit into their timeframe and budget.
- They invest in developing sales ready messaging® that is aligned with their sales process. They don’t leave it up to their individual salespeople to determine who they are going to target or how to position the product, and they don’t allow them to lead with product feature/function, followed by premature, possibly inapplicable, product demonstrations. They can’t afford the mixed messages and inaccurate positioning that could be delivered by the salespeople. With the assistance of marketing they identify the job titles, business issues, and give their salespeople the messaging tools they need to converse knowingly with buyers about what they are trying to accomplish, what is preventing them from doing that today, and what capabilities they are going to need moving forward to achieve their goals, solve their problems, or satisfy their needs. Even more, every 60 to 90 days they review that sales ready messaging® to make sure that is on target and that sales and marketing are collaborating. What a concept!
- On a daily basis, they proactively manage each salesperson to the sales process that they have selected and implemented. The key phrase here is “proactively manage.” They don’t just wave the training wand and poof, everything is all better! They don’t leave it up to the salesperson to decide if he/she is going to adopt and use it. They drive adoption and use. They have an implementation plan complete with tasks and completion dates; managers have implementation responsibilities; they perform individual territory reviews on a weekly basis to ensure the sales process is being applied and followed; they provide skill and opportunity coaching as needed; and more importantly, they don’t acquiesce to a salesperson’s excuses.
Is this a lot of work? It can be. But so is finding another position when you have been relieved of your responsibilities and have to begin looking for another position.
I’m not trying to be offensive. I’ve simply taken the time to write down what you know to be true and think about.
Sales leadership can be difficult and challenging. It can also be very satisfying and financially rewarding.
Who are these successful companies I’m referencing in this article? Take the time to visit the Customer Showcase on our website. In addition to video testimonials by our clients about what they have been able to accomplish, there are 70+ Success Stories, again by our clients, documenting what they have been able to accomplish following the implementation and use of CustomerCentric Selling®. Recently I had a competitor ask me why we publish so many Success Stories. I told him, “Because we can.”
If you conclude that this is worthy of further investigation after reviewing the information I suggested you look at, please contact me. There is no harm in talking. Maybe I can help. If you’re beyond that point and would like to evaluate CustomerCentric Selling® for yourself, why don’t you, just you, plan on attending the public CustomerCentric Selling® workshop I’m conducting in Denver, September 12-15th. Our public workshops have proven to be an excellent venue for senior sales leaders to preview the sales methodology and process prior to making a formal adoption decision and at very little expense. For more information about this workshop, or to register to attend, simply click this link.