sillhouette of cheering fan in stadium

Participants vs. Observers0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Ask sales people why they lose deals and most will offer either price or some aspect of the product that led to their demise. I bet the over 40% B2B reps who fail to attain quota in a given year will also lean on the same crutch. While I understand the defence mechanism, you have to wonder when they will face the truth, and actually consider that it is the way they sell that leads to the results they get, nothing else.

Before I go on, it is important to mention that the sales person is not in this alone, the things I will speak to below are not just the fault of the individual seller. Their organizations and immediate manager are complicit in this, and not only enable, but often encourage, with the help of pundits, the behaviour that continues to plague sales, and leads to the results sellers see.

The problem is that most sellers (and their managers, and in many cases leaders in their respective organizations) are nothing more than observers, spectators if you will, rather than full time participants in the arena they are selling in. Being a spectator gives one a great vantage point, but not the same vantage point, or experience, as the actual on field players have. The best sellers, learn to observe and speak to things from the perspective of the player on the field, a real participant, not just the perspective of a super fan, which is how many sellers come across to buyers as. “Enthusiastic, informed, empathetic, but clearly hasn’t walked a mile in my shoes, and does not get the detail required to understand my view” is how one buyer put it.

Here’s a live example, I was working with a group of telco, IT wannabe sellers. At one point the question of why should or do people buy from you or your company?

sillhouette of cheering fan in stadium

Rep: We help them be more productive
Me: How?
Rep: We increase their people’s productivity.
Me: OK, give me an example, how do you make them more proactive?
Rep: We increase efficiencies
Me: How?
Rep: By increasing productivity
Me: OK, I’m with you, give me an example

You can hear the gears grinding, smoke ever so slowly seeping out of the ears, he wants to go to price but realizes the VP in the back of the room had him in the cross hairs.

In a last-ditch attempt to salvage the moment, he went for it:

Rep: We help them eliminate their pain points by offering the right solution.

Yup, that should cover it all, I didn’t have it in me to ask what pain, and what he was gonna solve with his solution.

Sure this may seem humours, till my role is played by an actual buyer, in the real world, who is actually a day to day participant in the “game”, not a “spots center” hack who may know the game, the players, and the rules, just hasn’t spend any time on the real field.

You can fake a lot of things in sales, but your buyer will know in a second if you are a real participant who can make a difference to them, or second rate color commentator who can’t contribute to the game.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Football substitue 2

Change The Candidate – Not The Rules!2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I am not big on politics, but it’s hard to avoid, seems to be everywhere one looks and steps, believe it or not, I have even witnessed it in corporate boardrooms where apparently, business was supposedly being conducted. But I was recently struck by an interesting parallel between some current political theater, and things unfolding in some sales organizations.

In the circus surrounding the recent confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, Chuck Schumer was making the rounds with a well rehearsed set of talking point regarding the potential for filibuster in an effort to delay Gorsuch’s confirmation. While I could care less about the confirmation, Schumer made an interesting argument in the face of the “Nuclear Option”, I paraphrase: “If you can’t get the requisite 60 votes, don’t change the rules, change the candidate.”

Many sales leaders could learn a bit from this motto. If we expand the concept of rules, to include the broad sales environment, there is a lot of wisdom in the notion of taking another look at what they need to change to achieve their desired outcomes.

Football substitue 2I see too many organizations making too many accommodations to suite the talents, or shortcomings of their sales teams. Don’t get me wrong, it does make sense to do things in a way that allows more people to succeed, but it should be done in context of the overall organizational goals.

Assuming that the goals and objectives of the organization and by extension the sales team are realistic, then we need to strive to bring together those assets and skills required to hit or exceed those goals. This may not always be a safe assumption, we have all seen companies that set such audacious goals, that they went way beyond being big and hairy, to being crushing, discouraging and counterproductive in every way.

But if the goals are doable (not easy), then sales leaders need to look at how they assemble the right assets to achieve those goals, which includes their team. But many organizations seem to make different accommodations for their human assets than other key resources. We have seen organizations change the rules, incentives, quotas or other things, mid stream, just to accommodate an underperforming rep, or asset.

Imagine if new rules were introduced in the middle of the second quarter to balance out the inability of one quarterback to hit a receiver or complete one hand off, never happen. The player would be pulled, and eventually traded. All with the support of the fans and pundits.

Organizations that choose to change elements once the game has started as a means of leveling the playing field for underperformers, in most cases are just delaying the inevitable, the rep either leaving due to frustration, or being fired for underperformance. While I fully believe that everything reasonable should be done to help reps develop the skills and habits to win. Some will take longer to ramp up, some will hit slumps, but there are some, obvious to most, who will never cut it without some form of “corporate subsidies”, i.e. changing quota, territory, or just allowing compromise on required activity or metrics.

Unlike the Gorsuch discussion, where Schumer could do little more than just talk, sales leaders have the ability to change the player rather than the rule. Rather than a temporary fix between now and the inevitable, that will lead to current and ongoing success.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Business cartoon showing two business managers, one is saying, 'the "no excuses sales seminar" is this weekend... but I'm going to try to get out of it'.

Best Way To Motivate Your Reps: Take Away EXcuses2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Managers always ask, “How can I motivate my reps?” Of course, what they are asking is “How can I get them to do their jobs?” And who can blame them, there is some much out there about how to motivate people, and specifically sales people, it seems easy to believe that there a single simple formula that fits all. Well there isn’t if there were, what would motivate all these people to write about a subject that was already solved, especially when there is so much more money to be made wading in to the unsolvable. That’s not to say that you can’t get some of the desired results many of these souls are searching for, it is just that they at times need to come at it from the other end.

As discussed before, all human being have the X chromosome. In sales people, it determines which skills a sales person will master. As the numbers suggest and support, in just under a half it predisposes them to master EXecution. While in the larger half, it accounts for their skills in making EXcuses.

No doubt managers who are gifted, can elevate those with the positive X chromosome, EXecuters, to greater accomplishments and success. They can often influence and guide some on the fringe of the EXcuse group to rehabilitate and kick the EXcuse habit for a life of successful EXecution.

You have to start by taking away their ability to use Excuses, which means a focus on continuously evolving process and continuous development, each with its own challenges. A continuously evolving process evolves because it has to continuously align with the buyer. This can be like building an airplane while it is in flight. One has to have a way to capture what they are learning in each sale, and apply it real time. There are many examples of sellers and organizations who are doing this, their only secret is that they spend more time understanding the buying process, and contributing to it, and by extension shaping that as well. With that in place it will make it easy to EXecute the sale. It may not always be great, not even pretty, but it will get done. But if it is being done, it can be improved, which is where continuous development comes in.

The best ‘motivation’ you can do for your reps is to invest in their success. They don’t need to go win one for the Gipper, if they can get it for themselves. Development doesn’t just help them improve their skills and EXecution, but demonstrates your commitment to their success, and what can be more motivation than knowing there is someone committed to your success, and not let you wallow in your EXcuses.

By “Motivating” them with the old hokey Rah-Rah, you are only enabling them to make more EXcuses, you train them that all it takes for them not to do what they are being paid for, things others on your team are do without threat to life or limb, is just come up with another better EXcuse. In some ways you are right when you think you are motivating them, unfortunately you’re not motivating them to improve their sales skills, but rather their EXcuse making skills instead. What’s worse, is the message you’re sending to those busting their balls EXcuting and making you look like you’re necessary in the process.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

green targets with client marking, green arrows hitting the center and grey targets with prospect marking

New Quarter – Same Approach?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

On Friday, I dropped a tongue in cheek, some might say sarcastic (or cynical) thought/comment on LinkedIn, observing how the last day of the quarter, month, and the week, made for B2B sales version of “Triple Witching Hour”.  The icing on the cake (or thought) came around 4:00 PM ET, when I was prospecting a VP of sales on the east coast, she asked I call her back Monday (scheduled time, none of this call me back stuff), because she wanted to keep her line open in case she needs to approve some deals.

But it is easy sniping from the sidelines, that was last quarter, the question is what you do with the quarter starting today?

Time To Reduce

The question of quality vs. quantity plays itself out in many elements of sales, and while it is always a god idea to have a deep pool of opportunities to look to, narrowing your efforts can lead to more of the desired results, and in a shorter timeframe. By narrowing I mean the number of opportunities you focus on, not the level of effort in your execution. Too many sales people try to juggle too many opportunities at the same time, leading to a diluted effort across all their opportunities, and by extension watered down results.

First steps should be rather simple:

How long is your average sales cycle; subtract that number from nine (the number of selling months assuming a Dec. 31 yearend), and you will get a sense of how many new (real) opportunities you will need at the top of the funnel. From there you can drill down to understand that for all the stages of your cycle.

If you have multiple offerings with varying cycles, you will need to ensure that you strive for a blended pipeline, both in terms of deal size and time to close. You need to get the longer deals started sooner than shorter, etc.

Calculate how much quota is left to retire in the remaining nine months of the year, and adjust that to reflect your new quarterly and monthly quotas.

Since it is rare that these numbers will unfold in a linear fashion, we are going to need to factor in seasonality and other fluctuating trends that will require you to make correlating adjustments to your activity as a counterbalance.

With the above in hand you will have a real idea of how many opportunities you will need to generate and take through the cycle. This in turn allows you to be much more in control and not be distracted by things that don’t contribute to your success.

One of the biggest and avoidable distractions comes from having too many opportunities in your active pipeline, and looking at all prospects as being equal or worthwhile. Being selective and reducing the number of opportunities you pursue in the first instance, and decide to continue to sell to, will improve your results. Fewer opportunities, especially a reduction in “Spaghetti Opportunities”, frees up your time while allowing you to use less resources in a more effective way.

If you are routinely and methodically reviewing the outcome of all opportunities that go into your pipeline, you will begin to gain an understanding of specific reasons and actions that lead to Wins, Losses, and No Decisions. You can then use these factors and trends to triage and prioritize opportunities and activities required to win.

Taking Control

One simple way to tier your efforts is to look at two basic criteria. One is:

A. The total potential value of an opportunity
B. The probability of closing them either in a given quarter, or fiscal year.

You will need data and info for this, this is not finger in the air stuff, this why the deal review is key.

Then plot the specific opportunities by name, on a chart where the A from above is one axis, and B the other. Then draw the usual quadrant lines, and you will see your opportunities fall into three groups worth pursuing.

Click on image to download a copy.

Top right quadrant, your best opportunities, high value, and high probability of closing. In terms of prospecting, 50% of your time and effort.

The next best quadrant is something you will need to decide. If you have a product line that allows you to “land and expand”, you may want to look at the bottom right, where the initial value may be smaller than others, but your probability of close is strong, and once you have landed, you can expand, but you’re now “in”.

For others, for a number of reasons, (low turnover, few potential prospects, etc.) you may see the top left as being your second-best group to target.

In either case, whichever your number 2 is, spend 30% of your prospecting efforts there, and the remaining 20% on the third group.

There are a number of other filters you can use, we do with our clients, but the goal is to achieve a selling environment featuring reduced clutter in your pipeline. That will allow you better leverage your most important resources, time. Slowly gaining back control of the things that will allow you to drive and deliver quota, not chase in the hopes of.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Young businessman in formal wear and hat with pan in hands

Cooking With Sales2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

F hero

Which Of These F’s Should You Give an F About?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sales like many other crafts, vocations, or professions, continues to evolve, or should. Some developments come along and become the rave for a while, only to fade after a time when they are proven ineffective, this is the first F, as in Fashionable. While some completely fade away, others leave a lasting impact on how people sell, and become broadly accepted, evolve to become a mainstay of professional selling; these develop over time to become Fundamentals, our second F.

Now the third F, the one you give to one of the F’s above, is not what you may think, after all we run a family friend sales professional development outfit, it in fact stands for Focus.

F heroFocus is critical to execution, and as you all by now know, success in sales is all about execution, everything else is just talk. (And there is no shortage of talk in sales).

The challenge for many is that the fundamentals are usually not exciting or easy, especially for those looking for a short cut to success. As Fashionable as Malcolm Gladwell may be, the prospect of having to invest 10,000 hours to become a master, is not an appealing recruitment statements, even if companies were willing to lend a hand. But there is no escaping that as in other professions or vocations, practitioners require continuous and repetitive practice in order to master the craft, and elevate themselves to the point where they can execute at a professional level.

Fashion on the other hand is much more exciting, appealing, and unfortunately, fleeting. We see it time after time, hot one year, dead the next, and while those developed the Fashion prosper and move on, those who followed and were then abandoned, are left with the results, or lack thereof. Just look at all the would be replacements for cold calling; Fashions have come and gone, but those Focused on Fundamentals continue to succeed, even adding some of the Fashionable remnants along the way. Witness what happened with sales 2.0, if you missed it, look at the freshly minted, ever Fashionable Sales 3.0. In fact, I am so confident that this recycling of Fashion will continue, I have already secured the domain for: www.SalesTheOcho.com.

Focus and Fundamentals requires discipline, which is not always Fashionable in sales. The problem with Fashion is two-fold, the first an most damaging is the distraction factor. Because success does take time, effort and Focus, anything that takes these elements away from nailing Fundamentals will slow your progress towards success and professionalism. Second, Fashion is rarely created for the long term, it is meant to short term and fleeting, no sooner than you load up on this year’s model, and they bring out the next. True, many fashions do come around after a time, but you only figure that out with the benefit of experience, this is why I never throw away ties, because they will come back into Fashion again. They are designed to appeal to the masses (in sales that would be the 80% in the 80/20 rule), easy to wear, and disposable. I bet we could look at some Stacks, and find some recycled Fashions or apps.

So if you give an F about your sales success, you should Focus on the Fundamentals, and avoid the time and money sucking sound of Fashion.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Young female scientist injecting GMO into   potato in  laboratory

What If Prospecting Were Cancer?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Not to be overly dramatic, but most people who find out they have caner or any terminal disease, will immediately seek a cure, take steps to change their lifestyle or habits to alter their fate. Rarely or ever would they ignore it or make changes to unrelated things as a means of healing the illness. Well, most except some VP’s of Sales or sales leaders.

You would not believe the number of these folks I meet with, who unprompted, without “probing” or cajoling, share with me their concerns about the state of their team’s pipelines, and the lack of new opportunities. When I ask what they attribute that to, they tell me:

  • Their people are ineffective at prospecting
  • Preferring to spend time with existing customers
  • They spend all their time researching on the web and social media – very little time leveraging the research by actually putting it to good use
  • Or just not wanting to do it at all

This of course leaves them in precarious position, while there may be good organic growth that they can coast on for a while, the new revenue coming in is only slightly ahead of their natural client attrition rate; leaving them only one breath away from a client leaving, and the whole year going pear shape.

You would think that once they examine and understand the symptoms, the risks and severity of the situation, they would address the cause as directly and effectively as possible. But no, the VP”s/Leaders in question, seem to feel that it is better to focus and deal with something else, some other element of sales as a means of addressing the issue. It sometimes reminds me of an old joke, where a farmer is suffering greatly with a tooth ache, as a cure, his friend and fellow farmer suggests that he drop a cement block on his toes, “Ya, you’ll forget that tooth ache in no time at all.” Now I have nothing against alternatives to main stream medical care, but even I know there are only so many toes you can break before you have to see a real doctor.

Seriously, they will deal with and change anything than what counts, i.e. their people’s ability to properly prospect. A popular favourite, probably due to visibility, is to focus on the “leads”; yup, “better leads”, or “more leads”. That’s the ticket, they are ignoring the leads they have now, or making at best a token effort, so let’s give them more to squander. A variation on the theme, “lets hire a lead gen firm.” So one company locally did that, and their reps came back:

“The leads suck”
Why?
‘The guy said he is not ready for at least six months”
How long is your sales cycle?
“About 4 months” (Data pulled from their CRM by sales ops showed just over 6 months)

But even if it was four months, seems like the right length of runway to unfold the sales properly at a relaxed pace. But it seemed the preferred method was to wait, till everyone is all over the buyer like white on rice, and then engage, just around the buyer has made their choice and is looking for pricing.

Another leader who after deciding that his people needed to prospect more regularly and do it better when they do, put the team through a presentations skills program. I guess his theory was that if any of the team ran into a prospect, (by mistake), they would be adept at presenting.

If prospecting was cancer, most people would deal with it directly, regardless of the effort required. Seems to me that having a continuously anaemic pipeline, or one full with names growing fungus like the orange we forgot in the back of the fridge, points to the fact that you have a cancer in your sales organization: deal with it, before it deals with your career.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

mANAGER - lEADERS

Are You Developing Managers Or Leaders?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

We have all witnessed situations where an outstanding sales rep is “rewarded” with a promotion to sales management, leading to two compounding problems. The previously successful contributor flounders in the new role, and you have an underperforming territory where you had a star you moved. There is no doubt that you’re a+ Primo players, should be recognized, even rewarded for their contribution, (which is what I thought the incentive plan was for), but that reward should be one that resonates with them, not with current company leadership.

Successful leaders create an environment where they understand what the rep in questions considers to be a reward or recognition. Many companies default to either monetary rewards or hierarchical promotion. The challenge with the former, is that real A+ Primo players can generally achieve the financial results they want, especially if, as mentioned, you have an effective incentive plan in place. But even then, money is an interesting aphrodisiac, it is a lot like gas, which fills the entire space or volume of its container regardless of the container size, no matter what the volume, it will fill a bigger container. Even a substantial increase will have limited lift, limited change in behavior.

mANAGER - lEADERSThe challenge with promotion is that some don’t want it as much as those higher in the hierarchy believe. Clearly those in senior roles, those who enjoy and are successful at it, find it hard to understand why others don’t get turned on by the same thing. But many don’t, we have all known career sales people, who continuously make more money than their managers or even directors, but and have no desire to take on the role. Promote one of these reps, as many do, and you not only face the issues presented above, but a bunch of collateral damage. Damage on the other members of the team who now lack a leader, this will manifest in either lower revenues or mass departures, sometimes both. Not to mention the countless dollars spent with experts to try “reprogram” the rep, mentor, coach, and all the other programs invested in, with little or no impact.

The answer is determined a lot earlier, at the time of hiring. Organizations should be hiring for the role, not hoping that some will evolve into it, especially when they were hired to do a specific thing. I don’t see a lot of football team bringing on a lot of placeholders with a goal that they will one day make great field goal kickers or quarterbacks. With all the talk about Account Based Management, perhaps we should extend the concept to how we construct a successful sales team, put some focus and energy in to Role Based Hiring and Development. I do apologize to those who sell programs to help people make the “transition” from one role to the next, but more often than not the result is the creation of a managers not leaders. Bureaucrats who excels in explaining and enforcing a process, but are useless at leading their teams in executing and continuous improvements in that execution. Manager is a great title, but it is leadership that will drive results both in the short and long term. Don’t settle just because it is easy, convenient, or always done that way.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Red closed door behind open doors, isolated on white background.

Closing Is Easy0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One of the most common things I hear from sellers is “Get me in front of the right guy, and I can close them”. Big deal, so could any monkey dressed in the right suit, that’s why the big money in B2B sales is made by those who can actually get in front of the right guy long before the closing monkeys show up, those who can OPEN.

Closing opportunities that were initiated by the buyer themselves is cute, but is it enough? When asked if they can meet or exceed quota relying strictly on deals that were initiated by the buyer, most admit the answer is no. In addition to those who come to them, they have to identify, qualify, prospect and engage with potential buyers who left on their own, would not have stayed out of the market in the current timeframe.

When A Tree Falls In The Forest

When you ask sales people or organizations, whether they could make or exceed quota by closing only opportunities initiated by the buyers themselves, and most admit, no. Meaning they have to go out and prospect buyers, who left to their own, would stay on the sidelines, and remain oblivious to any social activity, messaging, or any other on line activity. It is very much like the tree falling in the forest. If the buyer is not online, but instead in their businesses, their shops, trucks, or offices, doing their thing, then they can’t see or interact with anything you may dangle out there. This, by the way, represents about 70% of any defined market, if not more.

Sure, one alternative is to double down, increase your efforts to entice and succeed with those buyers who are interacting with what you’re dangling. But we also have to remember that these buyers are rarely monogamous. They are visiting all your competitors’ sites, and playing footsie with all they’re dangling. In a “good enough” world, you all begin to look the same at about the 67% – 70% marker in the journey, leaving price as the big differentiator.

Back To The Start

Openers, know how to identify and speak with those 70% who are entrenched on the sideline. They can shape the thinking of the buyer much more so than one could at the 67% marker. While any intelligent buyer will compare you to others, Openers know how to frame the opportunity in ways that will directly influence how those buyers will filter your competitors.

The risk these days is that everyone is so fixated on closing, they overlook the need for Openers, placing all their early cycle success in means that are not delivering. While many bought into the SDR wave, stats about SaaS sales success can be scary by any standard. One reason again is that the emphasis is not opening the opportunity, creating a base for success, and without that foundation, it is hard to build.

Unfortunately, the discussion has eroded into a question of style, social vs. traditional. But impact has been deeper, as many who shun traditional prospecting, say telephone prospecting or cold calling, also abandon the skill of opening, as that step is left entirely to the buyer. Time to focus on why we do something, not just the how. For real sellers, the why is about the Open.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

3 Sterne Bewertung

Can We Stop Accepting Average? Please!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Something has changed over the last few years, and it needs to be reversed. There is too much celebrating of average, everywhere, but especially sales.

Average may be a good measure to use when comparing house prices on a given street, but falls short when it comes to measuring accomplishments, setting goals, or anything that counts, especially in sales. Let me remind everyone that average = typical; common; ordinary. Not something one would use to describe themselves or loved ones, yet, we seem to celebrate it almost daily.

Average is certainly not something you see at the top of skills listed in job postings for sales positions. BTW, cold calling is, yet the average salespeople seem to find it difficult to execute this basic sales skill. Even when coached and directed, the average reps seem to search for reasons not to do execute core sales activities.

3 Sterne BewertungThe difference between average and excelling is not a great as many would have you believe, and while it may be easy to point at the reps involved, it may be worth looking at what in their support (or lack of support) system allows to get away with it, and at times encourage it, starting with their managers. For a number of reasons many managers are afraid to call out mediocrity or averageness. Sure, HR policies and a litigious environment contribute to this, managers need play an active role in helping people exceed average, or help the individual transition to something they can be more than average at.

It does not help that many managers are reluctant to address the issue head on. I have had managers tell me that they’d rather have someone in the territory than have it vacant. I get it, but I firmly believe and have seen that the long-term damage to revenue in such territories, when an average rep is sent to compete against accomplished sellers. I have heard the arguments about the costs, direct and hidden, that are associated with rep turnover, but the answer is not hanging on to average, but having the conviction and guts to hire the right reps. Coming from the “hire slow, fire fast” school, the holding on should happen at the front end of the process, during hiring, not in avoiding the firing.

In some ways, you can’t blame only those involved on ground level. Many of these average sellers are a product of ‘The “Participation Trophy” generation’. Looking at the charts presented, it is likely to get “averager” before it gets better. Unlike little league, in sales only one rep goes home with the deal, the others, as they say, have hungry babies (and maybe a ribbon).

The cost for all this is borne not only by the organizations and those reps who strive to achieve, rather than just participate, and spend more time and energy on excuses rather than execution. Which leads to the average sales force where a hand full of committed professionals will always outperform a stable of also-rans, the choice is yours, not matter what you tell yourself.

Untitled

Want your sales e-mails to be more than average, deliver better sales results?  Register now for this free webinar!

wordpress stat