It’s Monday, a great day for great sellers, the week is ripe with possibilities and opportunities, and how it turns out Friday, is almost entirely up to you and the decisions you make, and the actions you’re willing to execute, or choose to avoid; it’s what makes sales great. But this Monday is that much more so, in fact if you’re inclined (you don’t have to be), you can look at this Monday as sales version of what stock market players call ‘Triple Witching‘.
This Monday is not only the start of the next chapter of your success story, for most the start of Q4, the last chance to bring it all home, and this week also marks the start of the sales version of the Hajj. The annual event that brings tens of thousands of sales types descending on San Francisco, in a quest to learn something new, reinforce their current path, and generally mingle with other faithful seeking sales enlightenment.
Having made the journey before, I know it is easy to get distracted from the “why” or Zen of the journey, how do we improve sales, and help our people sell better? In the frenzy presentations and displays, being flattered as you’re being scanned and primed, it is easy to forget that sales is as much about your people as it is about technology. And while people may say the size of Stack matters, as with other things, I believe it is more of what you do with it, not the size.I have seen sales leaders compare stacks the same way we compared hockey cards in the school yard. And while I would not argue the positive impact of technology on many elements of selling, more is not always better, and in fact without an overarching strategy to execution and development path for your human assets, it is more likely holding you back, just review the many studies around quota attainment.
But quota attainment is just a symptom, not the cause. The nature of your Stack brings with it a number of unintended negative ripples, not the least of which is added complexity, complexity that has a direct impact on your team’s ability to sell and succeed. This can surface in a number of ways, from challenges around integration, roll out, alignment with message, adoption and execution; all leading to complexity that directly impacts outcomes.
Some complexities are necessary based on what you are selling, who you are selling it to, and other factors. The goal is to find and develop a Stack that at the minimum balances things your way, or better yet, reduces complexity, and improves sales, selling and results. There is a difference between the sale being complex, and making the job of selling complex. The Former is the nature of the game, a factor the nature of the product, the number of people involved, (on both sides), the existing systems being touched or impacted, and a number of other moving parts. The latter is self-inflicted and can be avoided.
One of the hidden challenges of the Stack is the ripple effect it brings. Things impacted include process and impact on work-flows; time requirements to learn adopt and assimilate by the front line. Each new resource brings with it additional stakeholders, each with their own view on “things”; then come the approvals at various points, not to mention support. This leads to what CEB has termed the ‘Seller Burden’. As shared at the recent CEB’s Sales & Marketing Thought Leader Roundtable, this Seller Burden is having a direct impact on sales success, and can be attributed to the new, and many argue unnecessary, complexity presented by the above.
Despite all the right reasons, measures taken by some sales organizations to help and support the sales effort, and sales people, have led to unplanned consequences. If you want to get a real sense for the type impact this has on your reps, their time, ability to sell, and basically your sales results, visit CEB’s Sales Complexity Calculator, input your specifics, and see the impact in your world. If you do not know the inputs for your organization, we should definitely talk.
As you can see below, even as almost all sales leaders are taking steps to help reps by increasing resources, a vast majority of reps believe that these resources are adding to their work complexity.
The only one winning here is the sales rep from the resource company, but in reality, there is no doubt that they are caught in the same trap.
So what, it is part of their job to deal with and assimilate these resources, with the expectation that once they “work it out”, it will help deliver quota. Short term pain for long term gain. But the evidence suggests otherwise. There are real and ongoing costs to ‘Seller Burden’.
To be clear, internal factors are not the only issues contributing to ‘Seller Burden’, as you can see below.
But it is also true that that internal factors, or complexities as it is termed below, are the biggest contributor, by a huge degree.
So as you ready yourself for the pilgrimage, and you circle in and around the Moscone Center, I would challenge you to look for things that will simplify selling for your team, and simplify buying for your prospects. Just because it looks good does not mean it will be good. An incremental gain in a small element of your sales success, should not lead to hidden and ongoing costs in productivity. Instead, make it your mission to look for resources that eliminate and minimize complexity, and make it easier for your team to execute and win deals. In fact, look for resources and by extension the related support, that you can eliminate and simplify selling for your sellers, and buying for your customers.
Simplifying and uncluttering is the goal. Start by focusing on the three items to the left of the dotted line above. Clearly you can’t hit all three at once, start by prioritizing, then focus on one at a time. My bias would be towards starting with simplifying and streamlining workflows, but the choice is yours.
The important thing is to challenge yourself to make it a mission to come back from the pilgrimage with more than just memories and cool S.W.A.G. Wanna be really cool, adopt the mantra of winners: LESS. Less, and the ability to produce more.