Chapter Overview and Selected Quotes likely to be used
Outline of Key Points in this chapter:
Usually, the problems on sales teams are obvious. 90% of the time it's poor selling skills, poor sales coaching skills and not enough sales activity with high capacity buyers. More data is most likely not going to clear that up. Improve the skills and output of the Training Team who will then improve the skills of the Sales Coaching Team who will then improve the skills of the Sales Team. That's the formula. I have yet to see any CRM or technology solution that can change that.
We do need great information about accounts and selling opportunities and technology can really help with this. The weaknesses in nearly all sales teams have to do with what the Sales People are doing and saying on sales calls and more capable Sales Trainers and Sales Coaches is nearly always the answer.
"For several years, I was a good Sales Coach, but not a great one. My teams did well, but we didn't win awards. What I learned in the Sales Coaching Program with Dycoco is that my mental paradigm of what coaching is was limited. I saw it mostly as an advisor and counselor role and that's just not it at all. The problems I was advising and counseling on were not going away. When I started spending a lot more time practicing, doing drills and skills clinics, I found that my interactions with my Sales People really changed. We spent our time talking about customers, sales calls and presentations and not problems with the company. That's the key. It's too easy to get into the trap of being the person your Sales People complain to. That's just not an effective way to coach.
Greg F - Sr. Sales Manager
Most average to good sales organizations, are already doing many of the things, at least strategically, they should be doing. They probably have a decent CRM system, have some version of a consultative sales approach and have invested time and energy into teaching Sales Managers how to coach. The blind spots that reduce sales performance have less to do with strategy and more to do with execution.
Execution is much harder than strategy when it comes building a world-class sales team that generates a real competitive advantage. The best Sales Executives are relentless at inspecting results. It is easy to launch an initiative to make Sales Managers aware that they should be coaching, but getting them to run frequent practice sessions and skills building drills is a another challenge entirely.
On nearly every project we start with a sales organization, we begin with an assessment of the 8 Key Sales Levers. In nearly every case, Managers in key roles will tell us "we're already doing that" when asked about sales training or incentives analysis or pushing Sales Managers to really coach. However, when we take a close look at the interactions between Sales Teams and Customers/Prospects and Sales Managers interacting with the Sales People, they are often entrenched in the bad habits that reduce results.
Being AWARE of what to do and even how to do it is NOT the same as having the skill and discipline to do it effectively day after day. This is why Sales Executives must inspect ruthlessly by watching how Sales Managers interact with and coach their Sales People. This chapter is about the blind spots that must be overcome.
This is the King Kahuna of results reducing blind spots. When a Sales Executive asks, "How well are our Sales Coaches actually coaching their teams?" and the answer is "we've already got a solid sales coaching program in place," it is nearly always an indication that "we're already doing that" thinking is entrenched. 90% of Sales Managers are aware of coaching and have been through coaching training but less than 10% of them actually coach their teams effectively. The most important question to ask is "is what we're doing working and where is the clear evidence that it is?" Listening to customers and top performers is a very effective way to determine if initiatives are actually working.
"It seems like it should be easy to get Sales Managers to spend quality time working with their Sales People. Training them... building their skills. But it isn't. In fact, it's extremely difficult. In our case, it was impossible until we made the commitment and built a really talented Sales Training Team that could demonstrate and teach good sales coaching. That's what opened the door for us. We were not getting any real leverage from our Sales Trainers, but that has changed. They are our most powerful secret weapon now. They are like a special ops group for us. We pay them well and are very selective about who we put on that team. Sales Training, in our company, is no longer an area where average Sales People come to work."
Sherman J - Sales Executive - Financial Wholesaler
Although automated customer satisfaction systems are often good tools, they rarely tell the whole story of what the buying experience is. With complex products and services, it takes real give and take conversation to find out how customers really feel about their buying experience. More Sales Executives need to get involved in those conversations. A monthly "satisfaction number" can really cause poor decision making and mask some nasty problems that are not being addressed.
More Quotes Added Every Week
Sales Leadership Blind Spots
This is a big trap that Executives, Managers and Coaches fall into in a high percentage of sales organizations. Ravenous data appetites and report requests find their way into the to do lists of too many people that should be working with the Sales People. As a result, they spend way too much time looking at data, putting together reports and analyzing information.
All of the numbers WILL get better and all the analysis will be more fun when the Sales People are more skillful and the Sales Coaches are training and building their teams. A good Sales Executive is stingy when it comes to reporting requests that take time away from building the sales team.
Consider the way a Football Coach spends his time during practice. He has several layers of specialized coaches that are on the field, but the Head Coach is still there at practices watching, observing, seeing who is getting the job done and who isn't. This is the key. More and more Managers and Executives MUST observe the Sales Coaches and Sales People playing the game so they can make better decisions.
"I plead guilty when it comes to getting sucked into behind the desk projects and data gazing. It's so easy to lose an hour, a day, a week and a month on projects and reporting that's certainly important, but not vital to the results we're trying to produce.
I remember when you gave us the task of calling two Sales People, one Sales Manager and one Customer every day and ask questions and LISTEN. That had such an impact on what I now see as the high priority work I need to get done. As a result, I know my Sales People, Managers and Customers a lot better now. I make better decisions when it comes to allocating resources because I know what issues matter to the people that really generate sales. In the past, I generated work for my Sales Teams, now they generate work for me. That's the way it should be.
Jenny L. - VP Sales
Computer Hardware Sales
There is a time and place for experts and consultants, but any large sales force must have very competent people in key roles that can identify problems and solve them. Often, outside people and consultants are too eager to sell THEIR formula which may or may not be the best solution. They are often very good at convincing Sales Execs that they are the best choice, but in most cases, the best thing for a sales organization to do is to build a great sales training competency of their own and teach competent sales professionals on their own team to build a powerful sales culture. Focus outside help on building key people. Using a lot of outside resources to train the masses is generally an expensive route that can easily be avoided.
"I hired a person to build our Sales Training University that had a great background. He had built a Corporate University for a big name Silicon Valley company and he gave us amazing presentations about adult learning styles, various sales and management models and within a year, we had a full curriculum that was generating fantastic participant survey scores. 90%+ in all areas.
One problem -- sales were not increasing. When I went out and talked to the Sales People about it, they all thanked me for the new courses and were very enthusiastic about it, but when I asked them to give me a demonstration of competitive advantages and differentiating factors, most couldn't do it. I asked if that was covered in training and they all said it was done really well.
That's when we changed direction. We were way too academic and analytic about it. We needed more tough drills and practice so we built a completely different sales training approach and wow, what a difference. That was a real tuning point for us. Sales Training is different from other training needs. It's better when it's more athletic for lack of a better word. More practice, less discussion and analysis. This is what helped our Coaches learn how to really practice with their teams so it had a double effect."
Elisa J. - EVP Sales - Payroll Services