By Scott Gordon, The Chief Revenue Officer
We’ve all been there. If you’re a consumer, it’s “where is that proposal @&%$&! sales guy said he’d send me yesterday?” If you’re an operations person you might have complained, “@&%$&! sales guys expect me to do their job! Why can’t they just turn in a complete contract? They have a @&%$&! checklist!” Else or, you may be a sales manager who pondered, “What’s it take to motivate these @&%$&! sales guys?!?”
Regardless of how you interact with them, salespeople are everywhere, and like every other population, their drive, focus, intelligence, training, interpersonal skills, hygiene, et cetera are all over the map. However, they all share one thing in common: without sales professionals, few of us would be employed.
Salespeople lubricate the engines of commerce. They match willing (and sometimes unwilling) buyers with sellers, problems with solutions, and give the rest of us something to do whether that something is managing the herd of cats that they are, processing the sales they turn in, delivering the product/service they sold, or developing the next suite of said products and services for them to sell.
Let’s face it, without salespeople there would be a lot less transacting going on. Sure, many of us use the internet when we are looking for something specific, but what about those products, services, and solutions you didn’t know existed until some sales guy told educated you? While marketing reaches many, it’s often the belly-to-belly, in the trenches selling that gets deals done. This becomes increasingly true as the complexity of the transaction increases.
There isn’t much complexity in buying a widget. Amazon is perfect for that. A new backyard, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. An enterprise wide CRM rollout is even more so. The more complex the transaction, the more important the role and competence of the salesperson involved.
This leads me back to a topic often discussed on the CRO’s Blog: training.
For the customer above who didn’t receive their proposal on time, one of three things happened:
While one can go to school and get a degree in business, marketing, and finance, there are few if any degrees in ‘Sales’. So as companies, we can’t assume the sales people we are hiring have received any formal training in their craft. This puts the onus on business to institute formalized training for their sales teams or suffer the consequences – lumpy sales, high turnover, bad paperwork, poor customer experience.
For the operations person who continually receives crap paperwork from sales guys, I always like to know if there are sales people who turn in great paperwork (of course, there always are). How do they do it? The answer to this question alerts me to whether we are dealing with a systems or training issue.
How? Some sales professionals are exactly that: professionals. So, they don’t let little things like a lack or systems or training get in the way of selling. They’ll simply invent their own system to compensate for a lack of one and engage interdepartmentally with peers to figure out what needs to get done. If they make a mistake, they’ll ask questions so they can continue to improve. They bring donuts to the office to garner favor because they know who ultimately butters their bread. If we can capture what they are doing to be successful, we have the genesis of a formalized training program.
Unfortunately, this breed of salesperson is as rare as a unicorn at a fairy conference. Yet, many hiring managers believe that if they recruit hard enough they can weed through the sea of posers and find these golden geese.
A better solution is to have a formalized training program so your company can collect the far more abundant ‘diamonds in the rough’ and mold them into competitor crushing forces of nature.
Lastly, for the sales manager beating her head against the wall trying to come up with ever more innovative ways to motivate her sales team, stop attacking the symptom – lack of motivation, and get to the source of the problem. Is it:
As you can see, this is a far thornier set of issues to contend with, especially if the problem exists at the management level.
In any case, if you’re organization is experiencing similar issues with your sales teams, there are ways to get back on track as soon as you decide to uncover and remedy the root causes. Until you do, the symptoms will persist.
Remember, while it’s easy to blame the @&%$&! sales guys for a laundry list of problems, the answer is often staring right back at us in the mirror.