Exposing the DIY Sales Organization

During most of April, I’ve been frequenting a Smoothie Bar near the place we are staying and when I take my first sip each day, one thought occurs to me each time.  “Why don’t the smoothies I make at home taste this good and why doesn’t the texture of my made-at-home smoothie compare?”  I asked the owner and he said, “I use the same ingredients!”

Thirty-two years ago, when we decided to make major landscaping improvements to our first home, the landscaper got out of his truck, looked around and yelled loudly enough for every neighbor within ten miles to hear, “Homeowner landscaping!!”  He was right.  When he was done, the property looked like it came out of a Home & Garden magazine.

In that same home, I constructed a built-in bookcase that would fit into the opening of a bedroom closet that wasn’t being used.  It took me an entire weekend and when I was done it fit the opening and it was functional.  On the other hand, it wasn’t so nice that we were going to show it to anyone!  For comparison, the built-ins that cabinet makers have constructed in our current home, look like they came out of a page in Architectural Digest.

The differences between DIY and professionals are incredible!  It’s the difference between light and darkness, the ocean and your neighborhood pond, or a Mitsubishi Mirage, which Car and Driver scores 2.5 and a Porsche Macan, which  Car and Driver scores a perfect 10.  They’re the same things but so, so, different.

Do you know where this is going?

Over the past thirty-nine years, I have seen this at so many companies and with executives who believed they could apply DIY to any or all of the following ten functions:

  1. Evaluating their sales team – it is usually biased and limited to what they recognize as good.
  2. Assessing their sales candidates, sales management and sales leadership candidates – Despite a hit or miss track record, they mistakenly believe they have excellent gut instinct instead of reliable, predictive data.
  3. Customizing the sales process – they consistently create sales processes that are missing entire stages and key milestones.
  4. Building a predictive sales scorecard – their creations tend to be marketing-like (proximity to target) instead of sales (conditions predictive of a win)
  5. Training and coaching their sales leaders and sales managers to effectively coach – If they could actually do this they would have done it!  Most CEOs are not aware of sales leadership and sales management best practices
  6. Selecting an appropriate CRM and integrating it with the custom sales process – most companies go with Salesforce.com because of familiarity, not because it comes remotely close to being user friendly or appropriate for the typical sales team and sales process.
  7. Training their salespeople – sales leaders and sales managers teaching salespeople to do what they have historically done, and providing product training is not professional sales training!
  8. Building an effective sales compensation plan – If it isn’t simple and it doesn’t motivate it isn’t sales compensation.
  9. Composing a Sales Playbook – There is nothing we hate more than writing playbooks but compared to the alternative?  This is the one thing that sales leadership most frequently fails to complete.
  10. Building an iron-clad sales recruiting process – No offense to the wonderful people in HR, but they don’t have a clue as to what it takes to attract, assess, speak with, qualify, interview and select the right salespeople for the specific role.

This is a great example of a misguided CEO that didn’t get it and unfortunately, this happens way too frequently!

When it comes to the ten functions listed above, most CEOs, CROs, CSOs, and Sales Managers lack expertise in much the same way I lacked the expertise to build a professional landscape, built-in cabinetry, and even Smoothies.  I can do those things, but the DIY work product pales in comparison to a professional work product.

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