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You Can Lead A Sales Person To Water, But You Can’t Make Him Think!

by David Brock on June 13th, 2018

So much of the conversation we see in selling is on enabling the sales person  (not just limited to the sales enablement function).

Millions/Billions are invested in sales tools, training, content, and programs.

We structure organizations “to optimize” performance, creating specialist roles so sales people don’t have to manage the whole process.

We provide programs, scripts, systems/tools, to help the sales person in engaging prospects and customers.

In some sense, it seems we are trying to handhold sales people through every conversation, every step of the process, every variation they may encounter.

In spite of all these investments, sales performance isn’t improving.  In fact, over the past 7 years, the number of sales people achieving their quotas has declined by about 10% to 53%*.

As I talk to sales managers and sales people, I find, increasingly, they are unable to navigate conversations and customer engagement in ways that are meaningful to the customer and produce results.

With the millions/billions we are investing in improving sales people’s abilities, why aren’t we seeing dramatic improvements in sales performance?

Some thoughts/guesses:

  1.  Just because we provide training, tools, systems, programs, doesn’t mean the sales person is using them.  Most studies show the impact of training last less than 90 days, unless there is constant reinforcement and coaching.  But the majority of managers spend less than 2 hours a week, total, coaching their people.
  2. Related to the previous point, people aren’t using the tools and things we provide.  If they were, we wouldn’t talk about things like CRM compliance, or many of the other things that dominate blog posts and discussions at conferences.  In our work with clients, we often find utilization of tools and related programs very low–people aren’t using content–they rely on a few pieces, using them over and over.  They aren’t using the tools/programs.  In one organization that had made great investments in providing all sorts of things to sales people, we found fewer than 2% were using them.
  3. Much of what we put in place focuses on us and our products/solutions.  The problem is, the customer doesn’t care about these.  As a result, even sales people leveraging these well, isn’t connecting effectively with customers.
  4. Increasingly, the focus on product knowledge and selling skills, doesn’t enable our sales people to engage and create meaningful or differentiated value with customers.  The absence of business/financial acumen knowledge, critical thinking, problem solving, curiosity, collaboration and project management skills adversely impact their abilities to effectively engage customers and produce results.

We have to take time to see understand how our people are using or aren’t using what we provide.  Until we get them using what we know works and produces results, we may be wasting time, money, resources


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