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April 2012

Selling: Art or Science?

Holden-Jim-Ryan_200pxJim Holden and Ryan Kubacki are CEO and President of Holden International, a global sales training and advisory firm. Their latest book, The New Power Base Selling: Lessons from 28,000 Sellers and 50,000 Deals, will be released May 1st. You can download Chapter 1 here. You can contact Ryan at r.kubacki@holdenintl.com and (312) 476-8704.


Having been in the sales training business for more than 30 years, we have seen all manner of sellers; strong performers, average sellers, and those who just don’t make the grade.  But behind all of this has always been the debate as to whether sales is an art or a science, almost to suggest that for some, sellers are born and not made. 

Let’s look at what we mean by “art.” For us, art is an expression of one’s imagination and talent.  It may result in a painting or sculpture, or it could be a wonderfully designed building, or something as intangible as an ingenious strategy to defeat a competitor, in order to win an important deal. Or is it?

Artistic ability is generally considered to be innate; coming from within an individual. A person is simply born with it, suggesting that if you’ve not been born with it, don’t expect to paint like a Picasso. In addition, such talent is difficult to understand and explain -- we see the result of talent, but not the talent itself. Who can say what was in Picasso’s mind when he revolutionized European painting and sculpture with something like Analytical Cubism, an example of which is the following.   

Fig 1 PicassoGuernica

Science, on the other hand, is quite different.  It seeks to systemically organize knowledge in a very reliable way that can be repeated and predicted.  So, if you hold a tall glass of beer above your head and let go, the result is predictable, not to mention, tragic.  As such, science seeks to eliminate all unknowns, precisely explaining cause and effect relationships in the natural world.  But, the laws of physics do not apply so neatly to people, their abilities, and actions.  And so, we must rule out sales as a pure science. At the same time, if you are able to define the intangibles of selling, the stuff that people generally don’t see, but know exist, perhaps we can move away from the view that selling is totally innate in nature.

For example, let’s take into account How to Run a Successful Customer Meeting. There are two aspects to conducting a successful customer meeting, the tangible and the intangible. On the tangible side, we know that a successful meeting requires the right process, which is shown in the following checklist:

Fig-2-Executive-Checklist

On the intangible side, a successful meeting is as much about managing emotions, as it is about implementing good process and conveying information. High performing sellers know that productive conversations are actually less about what they say or what they think the customer individual has heard, as they are about how the executive feels at the end of the meeting. Will he or she support the seller and a particular solution with enthusiasm? Will the executive be indifferent or perhaps feel challenged?  Sensing emotional reactions, reading them correctly, and responding appropriately in real time are essential to executive meetings. To accomplish this, sellers are trained to observe carefully, ask the right questions, and excel at listening. The same could be said for giving presentations that are both informational and powerful.  Sellers don’t need to understand the psychology that drives emotional response, but instead need to know what to look for and how to respond to what they see.  So, in this example, selling, while not pure science, is also not entirely innate, as in an art.  But where does that leave us? The answer lies with a new perspective on selling, which views it as a management science.  This viewpoint is presented in depth in our book, The New Power Base Selling, which is published by John Wiley & Sons and is scheduled to hit bookstores in early May 2012.

Holden has also developed a Four Stage Model that addresses key factors (intent, focus, relationship, value and knowledge) within a context that describes the customer and competitive environments. True to any management science, it enables sales proficiency to be documented, measured, understood, and managed. This in turn, increases sales proficiency, consistency of performance, and scalability within sales organizations. Success is based on both tangible and intangible factors. These factors approach art and science, sales as a management science conceptually sits in between them bridging the gap. 


Five Things Marketers Can Learn from the Meaning of Stories

JimSignorelliToday's blog post is by Jim Signorelli, founder and CEO of ESW Partners, a Chicago-based marketing firm, and author of the new book StoryBranding: Creating Stand-Out Brands Through the Power of Story. For more information, please visit www.eswpartners.com.
 

ImagesStories are one of the most powerful tools in our communication arsenal. Since the beginning of language, they continue to inspire, motivate, and engage us like no other form of communication can. There are good reasons for this, and some of those reasons provide lessons for marketers. Here are five worth noting:
 
1. Stories clothe facts with “big M” Meaning: All stories have meaning or some reason for being told. Consider this story:    
 
The young athlete who trained by doing 100 squats every day ended up winning the marathon.  
 
In effect, this is a story about the functional benefit of squats for runners.
 
Now consider this revision:  
 
The young athlete who trained by doing 100 squats every day ended up winning the marathon. He has a prosthetic leg.  
 
The first story conveys meaning in the form of useful information, i.e., squats build running endurance; however, the second story is more than just useful. It's inspirational. By contrast, it has Meaning – “big M” Meaning. The additional five-word sentence makes the second story about the same runner far more significant.
 
One of the most important questions marketers need to ask about their brand is whether it conveys meaning or Meaning. Facts about unique features and benefits may be useful, but that are not Meaningful. To go for Meaning, brands have to associate with personal values, such as exploration, determination, hard work, or ingenuity, to mention just a few. And if the communication of those values provokes an emotional response, all the better.
 
2. We are more drawn to stories that leave the Meaning to us.  
Andrew Stanton, creator of the films Toy Story and WALL-E, refers to his “unifying theory of 2+2” as our desire to come to our own conclusions. We do not want to be told the answer is four. We'd rather figure it out for ourselves. This is one of the principles of story that attracts us to stories as a communication device. Movies, novels, poems, or songs do not explain the meaning behind their messages. Meaning is left to the audience’s interpretation.
 
This is very unlike much of what we see in advertising. Advertising often gets in its own way when it sets out to convey Meaning. By telling us what values to associate with brands or how to think about a given brand, we often resist or put up our protective BS shields. Consumers don't need or want to be told that your brand believes in caring about its customers or works hard for its money.
 
Taking a lesson from stories, it is far more engaging and believable to pull Meaning from the mind of the consumer than to push from the voice of the brand. Notice in the second story above, there was no mention of what to think or feel. If you thought or felt anything about the winning marathon runner with the prosthetic leg, it was because of your interpretation, not mine. Storytellers cause you to see what you see but do little to cause the way you think or feel about what you see. Doing so would be like the comedian explaining the punch line of his joke.  
            
3. Audiences gravitate to Meaning that arouses identification.  
Another reason we are so drawn to stories is because of their ability to help us see ourselves. Identification is a story’s ability to help us feel recognized for who we are and what we value. Besides helping us realize that we are not alone, identification also helps us examine what are sometimes unconscious beliefs that motivate our behavior.
 
Too often, brands that set out to create their identities ignore the benefits of creating identification. Creating a brand identity involves telling or purposefully positioning a brand to help consumers see what makes it different or better vis-à-vis alternatives. By contrast, creating brand identification is about helping the prospect relate to what the brand stands for or its cause. It’s about helping prospects see that your brand is for people like them. Creating a differentiated brand identity may influence buying, but creating strong brand identification will influence joining. It’s always better to have joiners than buyers. Joiners are the ones who stay buyers and wear your logos.   

4. Story writers don't use focus groups to decide what their Meaning should be. Story writers don't manufacture meaning on the basis of what will sell to the greatest number of people. Rather, they start with an authentically held core belief that they want to share and express in their own way.
 
Lack of authenticity is one of the many reasons consumers have become cynical about advertising. Today’s consumer is just too smart to fall for forced intimacy. They know when you are trying too hard to fit into their lives. Consumers want and need brands to be true to their own causes, and if you think that what you say or even imply about yourself is enough, think again. As far as consumers are concerned, your brand's truth will always be revealed more through actions than anything advertised. Trustable people don't tell you they are trustable, and friendly people don’t put you on hold for 30 minutes.  
 
If consumer research is required, better that it be used to compare expressions of Meaning than to derive Meaning. Meaning is an inside job.
 
5. For great story writers, Meaning is expressed in a similar fashion from story to story.
If you go to any best seller's list of books, you'll often find it consists of many narratives written by authors with whom we are familiar. Having enjoyed their previous works, we clamor for their newest work, and we do this out of an affinity for both their interesting perspectives and individualized expressions. We are not drawn only to messages they want us to read, but also to the way they consistently write them.   
 
The reason some people will camp out in front of an Apple store the night before a new product launch is simple: the new product is from Apple. As the excited consumers’ thinking goes, if it’s from Apple, it’s got to be something worth having.
 
Each new product Apple produces is recognizably linked to the one it updates. The new offering may provide improvements, but more importantly, it remains a continuance of Apple's “big M” Meaning. Just as writers remain true to their voice, Apple takes great pains to make sure its products deserve a rightful place within its family.  

These are just five things marketers can learn from stories. The parallels between good stories and strong brands are rich with more.

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Social Media, Mobility, and Security: How These Three Pillars Enable Successful Sales

DavidSatterwhiteToday's blog post is by David Satterwhite, VP of Sales and General Manager, Americas, for Good Technology (www.good.com). He is a successful sales executive with a proven track record for building and scaling worldwide sales, services, and business development teams for various high-tech companies. Follow David on Twitter @Satterwhite1

There are three megatrends emerging today that stand to push our customer relationships and sales strategies to a whole new level: social media, mobility, and security. We all know that building and sustaining strong customer relationships is key to a successful sales strategy. But in today’s environment, being “social” with your customers refers to not only wining and dining current and prospective clients (OK, that helps, too); it refers also to your sales team’s ability to effectively share information, build customer communities, and engage regularly with clients and one another through new media channels.

As of today, there are more than 825 million users on Facebook, more than 130 million members on LinkedIn, and upwards of 140 million active users on Twitter generating 340 million tweets per day. More than 400 million Google+ members are expected by the end of 2012. Not only are these online communities growing, but they are also increasingly going mobile. According to a report by comScore, in August 2011, 72.2 million Americans accessed social sites and blogs from their mobile phones, a 37 percent increase from a year ago. And considering your sales force is always on the go, there is a true dependence on smartphones and tablets in order to embrace a social customer culture and communicate with customers, partners, and colleagues, anytime and from anywhere.

Mobile devices are also catalysts for improved productivity by way of any number of social-business applications that not only improve an organization’s productivity, but also enable real-time collaboration with its sales team and customers. If your company has a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place, all the better; sales reps can use the devices that they’re most comfortable with to do their jobs.

But while mobility and BYOD certainly enhance the sales professional’s ability to do his or her job more effectively, they also bring important security issues to the table. In sales, we’re privy to sensitive customer information. If the integrity of that data is compromised in any way – because our iPad is stolen or we download an infected app – the consequences for our clients could be dire. The impact of a security breach ranges from multithousand dollar fines to brand damage and customer attrition. The bottom line: mobile security in today’s app-central business environment is no joke.

Establishing a mobile-security strategy that includes BYOD and social-media access becomes, then, another important enabler of a successful sales strategy. A “containerized” approach that effectively sections off a mobile device into work and personal components can solve this problem. Data is encrypted and password protected, and IT can quickly and easily wipe all company data from the device if it gets lost or stolen without having to wipe personal information.

The intersection of social applications, mobility, and security hold enormous potential for sales teams to sell more, with greater customer satisfaction, while reaching sales goals faster. Let’s look at some of the key benefits that your organization can achieve by combining these three elements:  

  1. Unified sales force. Your sales reps can be scattered across the country or across the globe. Using a social-business application such as Jive, for example, can help you achieve a collaborative, secure environment that builds a stronger sales team. Jive transcends these geographic boundaries and helps sales associates share their knowledge, insight, and experience with other team members.
  2. Increased executive visibility. Being mobile and global sometimes makes it tough for sales reps to connect with members of the leadership team. Building a social community in a secure environment gives executives added visibility into customer activities, issues, and solutions. This heightened insight enables the more experienced, senior-level, executive team members to impart their knowledge to the sales force while interfacing with customers in a social forum.
  3. Reduced training cycles. Getting new team members up-to-speed is time consuming. What if you could shorten the process and make it less overwhelming by providing a secure forum for new recruits to ask questions, gather information, and see how their more-experienced colleagues are getting things done? Sometimes simply observing a community conversation is all it takes to prompt new sales reps to ask questions they would not have thought to ask otherwise.
  4. Better alignment with marketing. Social collaboration tools give the marketing team an opportunity to see the conversations taking place and provide sales reps with the assets they need to do their jobs more efficiently. Recurring themes, questions, and issues can be identified and addressed quicker and more efficiently than before.
  5. Improved customer service. A happy customer is not only a returning customer, but one that will become your brand ambassador. Building social communities lets customers and sales teams interact in real time. They also provide a secure forum for customers to interact with one another and share best practices to ensure a successful experience with your products and services. Establishing a dynamic and social customer community is an easy way to enhance their experience with your company and its products or services. 

Achieving sales goals is the cornerstone of any company’s success, and a savvy organization will create an integrated approach to selling in today’s evolving business environment. By effectively deploying a secure, social mobility strategy, organizations can take advantage of tools that will enhance customer responsiveness, improve productivity, accelerate sales cycles, and of course, keep customers coming back for more!

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Information Is a Deposed Emperor without Clothes

In the movie Wall Street, the lead character, Gordon Gekko, said, "The most valuable commodity I know of is information."

A substantiating example was how Nathan Rothschild reportedly used messenger pigeons during the Napoleonic Wars. Because he received information about Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo before others who relied on communication delivered on horseback, Rothschild made millions overnight in London's stock market.

But sheer information no longer has intrinsic value. Every day, we feed more information into a giant, global brain. Everyone with a browser can access the same information at the same time.

Such information access has dramatically changed how people buy. Customers no longer listen to companies; they listen to their peers. In fact, buyers complete at least 57 percent of the buying process before contacting a company representative. (SOURCE: Corporate Executive Board)

While buyers are armed with more information than ever before, many salespeople are in the dark about

  1. customer budgets, authority, needs, and timetables;
  2. sales triggers, or events that may trigger a purchase;
  3. customer business models and strategic objectives.  

Only 13 percent of customers believe that a typical salesperson understands their business issues and can articulate how to solve them. (SOURCE: Forrester)

It's no wonder; the inability to communicate a value message is today's biggest roadblock to achieving quota. (SOURCE: SiriusDecisions)

This is the big elephant in the boardroom. Information is a deposed emperor without clothes. The new business trump card is insight.

It’s been said that you can't get to the right answers unless you ask the right questions. The same goes for insight. Here are some questions your executive team can ask to gain insight and get sales results that are out of sight:

  • How does your company collaborate and share insight? Explore a sales-enablement solution (Qvidian or SAVO).
  • How do your salespeople find what's relevant to a prospect who has visited your Website? Examine behavioral marketing applications (Eloqua or Silverpop)
  • How do you help your salespeople engage customers in a conversation that is centered around value as seen through the customer's eyes? Get serious about sales coaching.
  • Are your salespeople still talking at customers through a well-rehearsed pitch? Improve your message management.  
  • How do you reward the right sales behaviors that contribute to a better bottom line? Get better results with incentive compensation management (Callidus or Xactly).
  • How do you deliver relevant social and corporate information to salespeople so they can win more new customers? Test-drive new lead-management solutions (InsideView or Reachable).   

Successful sales organizations boost revenues through better processes and technology. Salespeople make money by turning information into insight.

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Fine-Tune Your Incentive Plans to Deliver More Next Quarter

Cabrera_newToday's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation, the industry leader in sales compensation automation.

 

Now that Q1 has come to a close—let’s pause for a collective sigh of relief from sales manager and sales rep alike—it’s time to give your incentive plans a good look.

Last year, only about half of sales teams met quota (CSO Insights). Here’s a 4-step action plan to make sure your company’s commission plans deliver the results you want in 2012.

1. See What Worked:

  • Clear half a day in your schedule. It’s never too early to start analyzing the impact of different content special incentive funds (SPIFs) and incentive compensation plan rules.
  • Get all the right people in the room. Too many people means too many agendas—but if too few people are involved, you won’t have enough information to gauge your plans’ success.
  • Generate customized sales performance reports for a holistic view of your sales team’s performance across each territory, product, and channel. Look at your margins. Delve into each bonus plan and commission structure.
  • Get granular. What elements of your compensation plans are doing the best? Are you leveraging all elements of your incentive plan? Look at your highest performers. What behaviors have they put into practice that you could incent others to emulate? What about your lowest performers—Would some 1:1 training help them perform better, or is it time to pull the plug?

Above all, you want to make sure profits are aligned for your company and your salespeople. Don’t stress if your sales reps are taking home big checks. This is what your sales compensation strategy is created to do: Create incentive plans that generously reward high-performing sales people.

However, if your cost per sale is too high, you probably didn’t have right analytics and modeling before you implemented your incentive plan.

2. Change What Didn’t Work:

The next step is to change or get rid of the elements that haven’t worked in your compensation strategy:

  • Pull up your incentive dashboards to instantly see which sales reps most need your help. Make sure your team’s quota attainment approximates its incentive plan attainment. If, for example, your team averages 60% quota attainment and 150% target incentive payout, you need to rethink your commission plan. 
  • Ask the right questions. Did you start a SPIF that only paid two people? Are all your sales people struggling to sell one particular product? Use your analytics reports here.
  • Use only metrics that matter. Some of the most popular sales metrics aren’t actually meaningful or truly actionable. You can find out which 6 key metrics to watch on this quick-tip webinar with Sibson Consulting: Test Your Sales Comp – Is This Thing Working?
  • Immediately correct what needs to be corrected. Don’t wait until it is too late. If you don’t fix what you can now, you may not be at the table when your team writes incentive plans for next year.

Step #3: Communicate Changes

Securing everyone’s support for incentive compensation is no walk in the park – especially when it involves tweaking the original. To effectively communicate the redesign and get your company on board:

  • Assemble a killer communications team.
  • Be as transparent as possible.
  • Make sure your reps see what’s in it for them.

Step #4: Plan for Q2

After you’ve refined your plans, it’s time to look ahead at where you want to go next. In Q2, your sales teams should:

  • Test your initial results – How much are you spending? How much is your team selling? How does that compare your goals?
  • Ask salespeople for feedback – Are there more disputes? Does the team understand the new plan?
  • Ask operations for feedback – How much time is the system taking? Do they have the data they need?

The key in each of these steps is good, clean data. You’re dead in the water if your company’s post-sales information is scattered across a variety of systems—including ERP, HR and payroll—so make sure all of your pre-sales and post-sales data is centralized in one place.

So, how did your commission plans deliver in Q1?

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The Anatomy of a Setback and a Comeback

RickMcDaniel_Small

Rick McDaniel is an expert in helping people make a comeback in their lives and is the author of the new book Comeback: Overcoming the Setbacks in Your Life (WestBowPress, 2012).  Rick has earned three degrees, including an advanced degree from Duke University.  He has traveled and spoken on five continents and authored three previous books.  If you have experienced a setback and are ready for a comeback, find out more about Rick at www.comeback-thebook.com.

 

Life is full of setbacks.  You cannot avoid them, no matter who you are.  The good news is that comebacks are possible; in fact, they happen all the time.  The challenge: how do you overcome your setback and have an incredible comeback?

Walt Disney is a personal hero of mine.  He fascinates me because of his creative energy and visionary leadership.  What you might not know is that he experienced seven very disappointing setbacks in his life.  He had several comebacks, and now the Disney name is the gold standard for creativity and excellence.

Warren Buffet is another person who has experienced setbacks. His latest setback is prostate cancer.  Early in his life, he had a setback when he was not accepted to Harvard.  Yet Buffet has had such a comeback that he is one of the richest people in the world. I have no doubt that he will tackle his latest setback with the same energy he has used throughout his life.

There are steps you can take to turn a setback into a comeback.     

Learn the Lesson

Too many try to push the setback behind them as quickly as possible, which is precisely why so many go from setback to setback.  If you want to have a comeback, you must look for the lessons in the setback to avoid making the same mistake again.  

Not every setback is the result of a direct action on your part; you can do all the right things for your health, for instance, and still end up sick.  But if you look deep enough, there are possibly decisions that you made that could have resulted in the setback.  Even if you discover something that seems to have had very little impact on the setback, this discovery will help you in the future from having a setback.    

Make the Change

A comeback will always begin with change.  If you want a comeback, you are going to have to change.  Unless you change what you presently are doing or not doing, things are going to remain the same; there will be no comeback.  You have to be willing to do things differently from how you’ve done them up to this point.

Change happens when you receive new information or gain new knowledge.  Change happens when you get a new attitude.  Change happens when you choose to be committed to your comeback.  

Exit Survival Mode
 
Some have been in survival mode for far too long.  It can be hard to decide to actually do it – to exit survival mode.  But there comes a time when you have to get past licking your wounds and get your bearings.

Believe it or not, many people become comfortable in survival mode because it can be quite a pity party, where they dwell on how they’ve been wronged, how things are not fair, or how things haven’t gone their way.  For your comeback to begin, you can’t be in survival mode.  There is no growth, progress, impact, or comeback in survival mode. 

Restart Your Dream Engine 

Setbacks do not control your life; you control your life.  You decide you are going to dream again. Think back to when you were a kid, and you thought, “One day I’m going to be a professional baseball player,” or “When I grow up, I’m going to go to the moon.”  Kids have the wildest imaginations and very vivid dreams.  Don’t let those old dreams fade away; turn them into reality.  

No matter what has happened, don’t allow your setbacks to define you anymore.  Become determined to move forward into your dream.  Ask yourself what it is you want more than anything.  Then ask yourself how you’re going to make it happen.  To make the dream a reality, the desire must match the discipline.  

Develop Momentum 

Momentum is your best friend because it makes you better than you are.  Slowly begin capturing the momentum by regaining control of one thing at a time.  A little momentum turns into a lot of momentum, which produces emerging energy and limitless passion that positively fuel a comeback.

Comeback_book_imgIt can be hard to get going if you don’t know where you need to begin.  Figure out the first step and start doing it; that will put you back on the road to success.  Each hurdle you successfully get over will build the momentum that will lead you to your comeback.  

A comeback takes work; however, it is possible, and everyone from ordinary people to celebrities to professional sports teams have proven that it’s possible.  You, too, have the potential to write a great comeback story.  

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Capture & Use Social Insights to Gain a Competitive Selling Edge

I'm convinced that social insights are the key competitive differentiator for impacting revenue cycles today. 

Today we get social insights from information and data shared on social networks. But really social insights are nothing new to any experienced sales leader. Many sales professionals remember walking into a prospect's or customer's office and looking around to get a sense of what kind of person they'd be talking to. Were there photos of family on the desk? Sports trophies on shelves? Degrees on the wall? 

People carry their accomplishments, hopes, fears, and dreams around with them. These are the kinds of things that great salespeople excel at uncovering. Context clues -- what the person wears, how the person talks, etc. -- can help you figure out what is most important to this individual. These clues can help you establish trust and rapport. 

Today all of this information and more is readily available to you via a simple LinkedIn search. Your prospects and customers might be on Twitter right now, sharing details about themselves and their lives that can help you create a meaningful connection.

Reps who use social insights to uncover business concerns, personal interests, career history, common acquaintances, and more are better equipped to make connections with prospects that ultimately lead to more sales. Sales teams that can access a deeper level of knowledge beyond names, titles, and contact information automatically become more competitive by collapsing the sales cycle. The thing that amazes me is that many sales leaders and their teams have yet to tap into the rich resource of social insights to learn and listen to uncover opportunities.

I believe that sales leaders who act immediately to capture and use social insights will gain an automatic edge over the competition. Tomorrow I'll be discussing the power of social insights in more detail during my webinar, "How to Impact Revenue Cycles" with Ralf VonSosen, Vice President of Marketing at InsideView. He'll be sharing the compelling results that companies have been getting by incorporating social intelligence into their lead-to-revenue process, including explosive growth in call-to-opportunity ratios, true sales opportunities, and close rates.

Register now to join us and learn how your team can start seeing similar benefits today. 

 


How Important is it for Your Salespeople to Practice?

DaveKurlan

Dave Kurlan is the bestselling author of Baseline Selling, a top-rated speaker, and a sales thought leader. His blog, Understanding the Sales Force, was a Gold Medal winner for Top Sales & Marketing Blog of 2011. He is the CEO of Objective Management Group, the global leader in sales assessments, and Kurlan Associates, a global sales development firm. 

 

 

When I was much younger, I was a pretty good trumpet player, playing professionally for nearly 10 years. I took weekly lessons from the age of 9, played in multiple bands and orchestras, and when I wasn’t taking lessons or performing, I practiced. And I felt I should have practiced more; a lot more. I could have been so much better...

Although baseball was my favorite, I spent most summers on the tennis courts, playing with anyone and everyone, until I entered college as the #2 on the school’s tennis team. It wasn't good enough though, and I felt like I should have practiced more; a lot more.

I was not going to be a star in music or tennis.  But what if I was?  Would I have been finished with all of that practicing? No way. The greatest athletes and musicians still hire the best coaches in the world and practice harder and even more frequently! I would have done the same because that’s exactly what I did when I started my sales development business 27 years ago.

By contrast, I am a terrible golfer. Why? I never practice. It’s not very different from the sales profession. Salespeople are very much like me, the golfer. The typical salesperson receives, on average, 3 days of sales training -- in their entire career. I've interviewed thousands of salespeople and most have never had a single day of professional sales training. And practice? There has not been a single client whose salespeople had been practicing the art and science of selling before I required them to begin practicing.

Why aren't salespeople getting enough professional training? In most companies, ego, fear and money are the three biggest reasons. Sales leadership, although completely lacking in the skills required, believe it’s their job to train their salespeople. Upper management is frequently afraid of change, even when it will bring about a change in results. And many companies simply won’t invest money to develop their salespeople.

Why aren't they coached the way they need to be? Although coaching is the number 1 job of sales managers today, most have never learned the proper way to coach, instead using a home grown approach and applying it on an as needed basis.

Why aren't they practicing? Believe it or not, most sales managers are afraid of upsetting the apple cart. They believe that if they required their veteran salespeople to practice they will have a rebellion on their hands.

Are your salespeople practicing each day? 

Objective Management Group has assessed more than 550,000 salespeople and according to their data 74% of all salespeople are completely ineffective and many of them shouldn't even be in sales. They get by for a variety of reasons, among them:

  • Low Expectations from management
  • They are no worse than the other ineffective salespeople at their company
  • Some are order takers and they take enough orders
  • Some are major account managers and the accounts were previously established
  • Some possess intangibles and have simply developed strong relationships over decades of work
  • Many work for industry leading companies - lowest price, best reputation, highest quality product, lowest risk - and they don't have to sell, as much as show up and quote
  • Some bounce from company to company never staying long enough to actually fail

Are your underperforming salespeople getting by? Can any of them become performers?  You can find out with a sales force evaluation. Even better, why not join me for my annual Sales Leadership Summit?