25 or 6 to 4 and your Sales Force

chicago band

You’re thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  How does this title tie in?

I was talking with a client last week and we were comparing notes about how we both played competitive junior tennis back in the day.  There was one tournament where I was in the finals and I was trying to figure out when exactly that might have been and I remembered that the band Chicago had its first big hit with the song “25 or 6 to 4”.  After googling it for the release date, turns out “the day” must have been in the summer of 1970.

25 or 6 to 4 brings me to 2 to 16.  A friend and I were comparing notes on our 9-year-olds when I said that ours is 7 years away from driving and only 7 years removed from 2.  Sometimes we observe mature, smart, 16-year-old thinking and behavior from him and other times we watch him behave like a 2-year-old, complete with tantrums. 2 to 16 means there is a 14 year swing and we rarely witness the behavior of a 9-year-old.

2 to 16 brings me to your salespeople.  You will see the equivalent of that 14-year swing in most salespeople, on most days.  Sometimes they will seem quite close to the salespeople you want them to be – scheduling meetings, asking questions, thoroughly qualifying, and closing.  Other days they will act like rookies – getting blown off the phone, spending their sales call time talking features and benefits, responding reactively to requests for quotes and proposals, and chasing the business down until a salesperson from another company closes it.

That 14-year swing is huge.  You can’t afford to have your salespeople behaving like facilitators, order takers, account managers and amateurs – ever.  You need them to be proactive – selling consultatively, everywhere, and always.

Children grow out of their age swings but salespeople must be managed, developed, trained and coached out.