I talk to hundreds of sales people and executives each year. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phase, “If only I/we had……” I could provide my consulting services for free, but still generate huge revenues. (OK, you know I’m a prone to a little exaggeration.)
It seems we’re always looking for something more and getting that will solve all our sales problems. It’s an endless litany of, “If I only had….”
Better quality leads….
More products, features and functions….
More competitive pricing…
More and better collateral….
More and better sales/marketing programs….
More and better sales/marketing automation tools…..
And the lists go on and on and on.
It’s also interesting, when those people get what they want, they always have a new, “If only we had……” There are always things that seem to stand in the way of our success. If we only eliminated them, everything would be perfect.
But then I start to ask questions and look around. Too often, we aren’t exploiting what we have.
We have a sales process…but we aren’t using it.
We have a CRM system and related tools, but we aren’t leveraging it to it’s full potential.
We had a great training program last year, but we aren’t leveraging and using what we learned.
We have some good sales and marketing programs, but we have a “program du jour mentality,” so we never have the chance to produce results, we just develop new programs.
We don’t pay attention to the quality of our pipeline, we just want more. We don’t look at how we can improve the quality, win more of the deals we are pursuing, faster, at higher margins.
We know we should be documenting deal strategies, account plan, call plans, but we are too busy to do this.
We know we should understand our customers’ business, problems, markets and be offering insight, but it’s too tough to do it.
We have collateral, sure it could be better, but we don’t use it anyway.
What I love about sales is it’s a high accountability profession. We have to make the number, there are no excuses.
Sure there are things that would be really great. They could make us more effective, more efficient, they could help us do better. But until we are using everything that we have, exploiting them to their fullest potential, continually looking for something else doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
Until we exploit what we have to it’s full potential, it’s really tough to identify “what we need,” to magnify our impact, enabling us to do much better.
Sure there are things that can improve our effectiveness, efficiency and impact. But until we have used what we have, until we have exhausted everything we can currently exploit, we’re making excuse and wasting time.
Some years ago, I watched two sales people in my organization. Both missed their numbers by a long shot. When I sat down to review their performance with their managers, I learned something interesting. One sales person kept promising, “I’ll make my numbers, if only you could get me this……” He kept saying, “I can’t make my number unless I get this, or we can do this, or….” There were constant excuses for everything he did. We looked at his deals–he wasn’t using the training we had invested in. He wasn’t using our opportunity management tools. He wasn’t leveraging the expertise and resources available to him.
The other sales person had some very tough situations. She exhausted everything she could to make her number. When we looked at the quality of her pipeline, the deal strategies, how she executed the strategies, how she managed her time and utilized company resources. She was doing every thing she could. Sure, she made some mistakes, but she learned from them. But she was doing everything she could.
Guess which sales person kept her job.
Yes, there are always things that could help us be better. But until we fully utilize what we have currently available to us, too often we are just making excuses.
Editorial Note: Yesterday, some of you may have seen some of my rough notes preparing for this post. When I came up with the idea, I created a draft to remind me of some of the things I wanted to talk about. Rather than “saving” the draft, I accidentally hit the “publish” button. It was really interesting to see the emails and twitter streams resulting from that error. Some of it was really troubling–not the notes saying “What’s up,” or “There are a lot of spelling errors.” Those were justified–people were paying attention and holding me accountable for high quality work. But some of the other tweets and comments, wer troubling. Again, I’ll write more about this in the next few days. For those who saw that draft, my apologies.