Over the past years, sales people have become a prime target for “help.” It’s no wonder, sales people are key to the organization’s growth and revenue performance. But sales hasn’t been performing, the data around quota performance for sales people and organizations is appalling.
On the other hand, sales faces huge challenges. Profound changes in the way customers buy, huge difficulties reaching and engaging prospects, more competition, faster sales cycles, fewer resources, time compression…… The list goes on. The challenges in “selling,” working with customers through their buying process are greater and more complex.
Layer fast changing customers, markets and industries. To be successful engaging our customers and prospects, we have to be knowledgeable about them, their businesses, their markets, industries, their customers, and competition. Without this, our ability to engage customers with insight is challenged.
Challenges don’t stop there, product lines and solutions offered by our own companies are growing. It’s no longer sufficient to be experts in one product line, but we may have dozens of solutions and hundreds of products that we mush have some level of knowledge about. Perhaps we don’t have to be the experts, we can leverage specialists to help, but we have to have enough knowledge to identify opportunities with our customers and to begin engaging our customers.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Our managers and organizations recognize all these challenges. In helping us manage them, they layer training, tools, systems, processes, programs, support teams, and others on us. As an example, years ago, sales enablement tools used to be limited to a CRM system. It was hard enough using that, but now we have content management systems, marketing automation, email, social selling, research tools, account planning, call planning, e-learning, territory management and on and on. It’s not unusual to see sales stacks exceeding $10K per year per person—all tools oriented to helping sales people be more informed, prepared, productive, effective, and efficient.
In the spirit of being helpful, our own organizations are making our lives much more complex and difficult! Unintentionally, by giving sales people more, we are overwhelming them, often causing them to produce less.
I’ll stop here, but you get the picture. Sales people are getting overwhelmed with help and support. They are overwhelmed with managing information overload from their customers, their own companies, and other sources.
All of this is well intended, but from the sales person’s point of view, it is overwhelming. Rather than simplifying their lives, what we are, in fact, doing is making them far more complex and challenging.
Our “help” is killing our sales people!
It’s time we call an end to this insanity. We have to stop providing more stuff to our people, instead, we have to focus on removing complexity, simplifying everything we can.
There’s not much we can do in simplifying what we do in engaging our customers through their buying processes, at least now.
But if we look on what our organizations inflict on sales people in the spirit of being helpful, there is a lot that we can do to simplify their lives.
We have to carefully assess all the things we are doing, the programs, systems, tools, processes, support that we continue to pile on. We have to start looking at radical simplification. We have to free sales people of the complexity our organizations impose, freeing them up to do their jobs.
Instead of doing more for our sales people, we need to start looking at doing less.