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“Sales People Don’t Have Time To Create Value With Customers…..”

by David Brock on June 20th, 2017

I read a comment in a post, “Sales people don’t have time to create value with their customers anymore.”  In fairness to the author, he was claiming sales is broken—it is.

My knee jerk reaction was, “This is complete BS!”  Upon reflecting I realized it’s true, and it’s probably an understatement.

Without a doubt, sales people are busier than ever.  They have too much on their plates, and keep getting more and more piled on.  Sales people, just as their customers are time poor.

At the same time, they are pressed by management for more volume.  They blindly send hundreds emails, followed by dozens to hundreds of calls.  All of this is aided by the “sales stack,” tools that are supposed to make them more efficient—though possibly not more effective.

When they eventually reach and engage their prospect, that prospect is equally busy and time poor. Too often, sales people are ill equipped for this initial conversation.  While they have the tools to research and prepare, they don’t take the time.  They’ve been trained on their products, but have had too little training on the customer, their businesses, and challenges.  They don’t know how to bridge the challenge their customer face and how their own solutions help the customer address those challenges.

Instead they pitch their products to a customer who may not be interested or engaged or care.

At this point of the argument, let’s pause and reflect.

Our sales people are clearly speaking with customers and engaging them.  They are having conversations with customers—albeit with great struggles.  But sit with any manager, look at any dashboard, and you will see all sorts of data on the number of calls, the minutes spent with customers, and so forth.  They are taking time with customers.

In those moments of time they are taking, they could and should be creating value.

Perhaps the real issue isn’t that they don’t have the time to create value, it’s they don’t know how to create value in the time they are taking.

In fairness to sales people, it may not be their fault!

Afterall, look at the scripts and training they have had.  It tends to be very product and internally focused.  Their prospecting programs are designed to maximize their efficiency, not necessarily to maximize customer engagement in talking about their business issues.

Or look at the coaching they get, if they get any, on their calls.  In the hundreds of reviews I’ve participated in during the past year, I have never heard a manager ask the simple question, “What value did you create in the call?”  In the pre-call planning sessions, I’ve never heard the question, “What value will you create?”  If we aren’t coaching them on how to create value in each interaction with the customer, why should we expect them to take the time to create value?

It must be unacceptable to accept that sales people don’t have the time to create value in their calls/meetings with customers.

That, after all, is their job, it’s what separates them from everyone else, it’s what engages the customer and makes them choose to buy.

The issue isn’t they don’t have the time to create value, it’s they don’t know how to create value in every interaction.

It’s the responsibility of management to change this.

Sales management must insist that people are trained in creating value–whether that training comes from sales enablement, marketing, product management, everything hast to be positioned in the context of how what we do creates value for the customer.

Sales management must coach sales people on creating value.  In every call review, make sure you ask, “What value did you create?”  In every pre-call planning meeting, ask, “What value will you create?”  If the sales person can’t answer, they aren’t ready for the call.

 

Afterword:  There has been a fascinating discussion on this in LinkedIn.  You can read it here.

 Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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8 Comments
  1. Pete permalink

    Dave, this is very good piece. Having had lots of experience in sales then in sales training, my own experiences align with yours.

  2. Dave, is it too much to ask for a sales person to get a connection on LinkedIn with their email target before they send the email?

    Don’t send the scripted email unless you have connected with the person.

  3. Dave, you know this is a passion and sore spot with me. For years, actually a couple of decades, I sent scores of sales reps out to “build more pipeline, close more business”. Call high, build executive relationships, align to the customer.

    Well all that is based on building value. Too often building value is left to the acumen of the sales rep. That’s great (MAYBE) for the 20 year grizzled veteran, but what about the rookie? Actually, what about 90%+ of sales reps.

    So we resort to more volume with the objective to catch someone who is interested in what our product does, and we amp up the volume to make the numbers work.

    In today’s day and age, that is pathetic. Just my opinion.

    We have to do a better job of helping sales reps understand the potential value for the customer/prospect. As you correctly point out, there are not enough hours in the day for reps to do this on their own…and there is no reason to expect them to.

    • You already knew we’d be in wild agreement on this Jim! It’s really incumbent on managers and sales enablement to coach and develop people to focus on value. We have to give them the knowledge and tools so they create value in every interaction. One of the best tools is DecisionLink! 😉

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