I am not sure if it truly qualifies as serendipity, but I had a couple of experiences one day recently that confirmed some sales basics that we choose to ignore at times. After leaving a meeting, I heard an interesting report and discussion on CBC Radio. They were looking at the cooking and eating habits of Canadians. A key point was that Canadians spend more time watching cooking shows on TV, be it specialized networks or mainstream, than they do cooking. Wow. They went on to explain that more Canadians are eating out at restaurants, and the impact of that on our health (not so good), the economic impacts, good for restaurants, not good for Canadians. While they were not knocking restaurants, it was more about balance and understanding around how and what we eat.
This was on the heels of a revealing meeting I just left with a VP of Sales and her Director of Business Development. As the topic turned to sales methodology, the VP was very curious and focused on social selling. She was up to date on all the current “insights” from all the usual socialites. When we got around to conversion rates, she could not immediately talk about what the current metrics were, and rightfully deferred to the BD Director, who leading the BDR team. He did know the numbers, and was honest enough to admit that they were not where they needed to be to drive the company’s objectives.
He then offered an unsolicited observation that brought a bit of tension to the conversation. “I think they spend too much time on social searching and knowing all there is to know, not enough time reaching out. They need to make more and better calls.” Not surprising, and a great opportunity to present some real insights on successful prospecting, especially where BDR’s primary function is to work the phone to drive engagement from leads gathered via social, inbound, and lists procured in so many ways. By the time I left there was middle ground, and agreement about the balance they need to create to drive results, and everyone focused on the need leverage all available avenues to a conversation, not waste valuable time and energy positioning one vs. the other. (A uniquely social quality).
Much like the state of Canadian’s culinary habits, things in sales have gotten a bit off centre, and sales leaders, be they pundits or VP’s need to step back and see what best meets their objectives. I understand that it may be easier to place all your bets on one horse, and then do your best to drive it. But in sales, as with diet, a balanced approach based on what you, or more importantly your buyer is trying to achieve will usually lead to greater results, even if not always the easiest; but we get paid to make it happen, not to make it easy. Successful leaders implement processes that encompass all elements required to deliver the best long term outcomes for all parties, be they nutritional, or financial.
The approach one takes needs to be driven by the outcomes they are trying to achieve not personal bias, fears, or by following only those pundits that reinforce those fears. Whatever method or style of selling you adopt should be based on what works for the buyers, not what sounds good to you only. The experts you follow should be able to demonstrate how it works, and why it meets your specific objectives, not just because it is in their book.
As one former White House chef said of his book, it is easier and more profitable to talk and write about cooking than cooking. Don’t get caught doing more socializing than selling.