If you read about sales, one thing you see a lot is the use of two types of analogies, first is sports, second is military, usually war. Having used them myself, they make for great comparisons and means of driving home explicit points or highlight the need for specific methodologies and systems. Like sales, there is a logic and a hierarchy to the organization, how things are implemented and communicated, or sometimes not communicated. The other thing they have in common is the lack of a definitive single way or commonly agreed on ways to achieve stated objectives.
There are as many “systems” as there are winning teams, each telling us that based on the makeup of their teams, their system helped them win the big trophy. Some will tell you that having the best players trumps “system”, but we have all seen teams win the championship only to miss the play-offs the following year with virtually the same roster. What then is the one factor that is common to the winners, what is the one thing that all winning teams, sport, military and sales have in common which leads to success and therefore defines success? Execution!
Look at sales, we have the big known schools with their “proven methodologies”, and largely they do work, and all have the right to be in a leadership position. You have the updates and rebranding Consultative Selling to Solution Selling to Customer Centric selling. There are the retreads and renamings, what were compelling events in the 1990’s is now trigger events. Doesn’t matter what you call it, if you don’t Execute, it is little more than a theory.
This applies to other aspects of sales too. While more and more organizations are rolling out CRM’s to “improve sales and enhance productivity”, evidence suggest that it has not lead to the great successes hoped for. Not because the application does not work, but because of the way they are rolled out and the lack of adoption and adherence by the sales teams. In other words, a complete lack of, or just bad execution by all involved. (Yes, I know there are other factors, bad planning, expecting the wrong outcome, wrong reason for buying it to begin with, but all those can be addressed if there was adoption, team execution.)
Whether you look at SPIN, Achieve Global, Miller Heiman, or even our own EDGE Framework, all great processes or systems, yet when you look at results in the field they don’t work consistently. Two quick examples, let us start at home. I worked with a company back in 2007, implementing the Interactive Sales Program, which is based on the EDGE Framework and Zones. As with all our programs it included a follow through Action Plan and the results were very positive until November 2008, when along with the economy, all things fell apart. I saw a similar thing happen at a company which has been committed for years to SPIN, yet despite reinforcement twice a year, they are not getting the results or hitting goal. The common element to both, the teams are just not Executing. At my client, when the economy slowed, and every sales became a battle they abandoned the discipline, and stopped executing the program. At the company using SPIN, it is not a question of the SPIN questioning process failing, it is the fact that their reps are not Executing.
As in sports or the military, there are all kinds of great programs and advice, but they are all worthless unless they are executed. Just walk around any sales office, find the rep with 8 – 12 years experience, somewhere in his office or cube you will find a half dozen or more sales training manuals and related books and cheat sheets. There is more evidence on his shelf of the programs he has learned than in his day-to-day selling, the typical rep does not execute the programs they are trained. So while there are some great programs, methods and applications to help individuals and teams sell better, without Execution, it’s all just talk.
You would think that execution should not only be easy, but people would be willing to do what it takes to execute and succeed, but we all know that they don’t, at least not consistently. There are many reasons why, some I get, some I don’t. What I have seen is that in many cases people are taught a theory or a system, but are not taught how to actually execute it. Some trainers are so close to the material, taking many parts of it for granted, believing the details to be self-evident, and as a result gloss over the most important piece. I often hear people say that they heard something great or brilliant when it comes to selling, and when you look to see why they are not adopting it, you see that they do not know how to or lack the will to execute.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting a series titled Execution – The Last Word In Sales. Do not worry about missing an instalment, as the goal is to pull all four parts together and make them available as e-booklet. As always, please comment and provide your feedback, it always helps.
What’s in Your Pipeline?
Hey, if you liked this post, please subscribe so you don’t miss another post…Subscribe Here to receive posts in your in-box automatically. Go ahead, do it, click here now!