- January 27, 2024
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
We are only two weeks away from the 2024 Super Bowl and it got me thinking. You may have recently watched an NFL playoff game, or an NBA or NHL game and listened to the broadcasters breathlessly describe the way the last points were scored.
You probably have the same stories showing up in your news feed as me. 300,000 illegals crossed the US southern border in December, wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, car-jacking, theft and violence in the major cities, and continuing inflation, especially on gas and food.
Wouldn’t it be cool if, instead of the news that currently appears in your feed, or the sports analysis you just heard, you could read the news of your last few days of selling, or hear the play-by-play analysis of your sales call from earlier today?
Would your news feed sound more like example one or example two below?
Example One: Dave had a tough few days on the sales trail. He used email to reach out to three prospects but didn’t get a response, he messaged three others on LinkedIn, but had the same result, and he didn’t pick up the phone even once! To make matters worse, he only had two sales calls this week, skipped discovery and qualification and instead of building a case, conducted two quick demos and produced two irrelevant unqualified proposals giving the competition a huge edge come decision making time.
Example Two: Dave is on a roll! This week he was a prospecting machine, making outbound attempts to more than 100 prospects, connecting with ten of them, and booking four new meetings for next week. On top of that, Dave met with four new opportunities this week, quickly disqualified one, uncovered compelling reasons to buy on three of those meetings, where two had tremendous urgency allowing him to quickly get them qualified. As a result, he has two excellent, large opportunities that he has a very good chance of closing in February.
Which one do you want appearing in your news feed?
From the two examples below, which sports analysis would you prefer to hear about yourself?
Example One: Dave asks a question, the prospects don’t answer it, and oh, it’s a turnover! Prospects have the ball, asking questions of their own, they’re going deep, and whoa, they ask for a quote! Ball’s in Dave’s court and he agrees to quote – oh no! Derek, what’s your take on Dave’s strategy? We’re in crunch time and instead of taking the ball to the hoop it seems like Dave played not to lose, had an unforced turnover, and he’s about to lose the game!
Example Two: Dave asks a question, the prospects don’t answer and Dave runs the same play, asks again, forcing the prospects to answer and what an answer it was! The prospects just gave up their compelling reason for them to buy from him and Dave has the momentum now! Dave is driving to the hoop and the prospects ask, “Can you help us?” Dave avoided presenting, said he wasn’t sure, and had to ask more questions. Great move by Dave!
Which broadcast would you prefer to hear about your selling?
In my experience, both the news feed and play-by-play of sales efforts would be a huge embarrassment to most salespeople. But I have to ask, why are we there? Why are the selling efforts so universally lame? Why aren’t most salespeople better than this? Who allows the mediocrity to continue unabated?
I have my theories.
Most salespeople are well paid, believe they are doing a good job, and don’t think they need to improve. But why do they believe these things?
Most sales managers protect their salespeople instead of pushing them to improve. Most companies set budgets that formulaically increase year-over-year budgets by just 3.5%. The sales recruiting process and selection criteria at most companies are horrible. Most sales training is product-focused instead of sales development. Most salespeople are not consistently or effectively coached. Most senior sales leaders are indifferent about doing anything about those things. And those who I just described certainly won’t be reaching out to me!
While some companies are doing the right things, they are clearly in the minority. In the plurality of companies, sales organizations do not follow best practices, train on the wrong subjects and skills, lack accountability, don’t encourage coaching, and have widespread mediocrity. While these issues can all be improved and perfected, companies find it easier to throw good money after bad instead of tackling the issues head on. It’s easy to remodel an office, purchase new technology, swap out a sales leader, raise or lower prices, change compensation plans, offer new incentives, create new slide decks, or change assignments, roles, and responsibilities, than it is to address the root cause of the problems.
Which kind of company are you in and what will you do about it?