THE 3 ESSENTIAL SALES TOOLS
- Speed to failure
- Conversation is still king (the person with the best conversation wins)
- Technology that supports SELLING – NOT finance
Before I get to the 3 essential sales tools, consider for a moment all the systems and processes you have in your organization:
- Physical plant
- Technical training
- Risk management
- Customer service
ARE YOU OK WITH ONLY A PARTIAL SOLUTION?
I know the list above isn’t a complete list, but let’s pretend for a minute that you just invested $500,000 in new technology. It could be a website enhancement, new finance applications to improve billing and financial projections, improved communication equipment or a sales CRM.
Let’s pretend that the investment was for finance. Your expectations are to “tighten up” the reporting on payables, receivables, compensation reports, taxes and forecasting. The company you bought the service from told you that it would probably take about 90 days to work any bugs out, but certainly, by year end, your expectations would be met. You meet with your CFO and ask, “How’s it going?” She responds, “Pretty good!” You then inquire, “Pretty good means?” She replies:
- Our payable reports are about 66% correct, but trending the right direction.
- Our overdue receivables still average 45 days, but we’re making progress.
- Our compensation expenses are off by about 5% and we’re not sure why, but we’re working on it.
- Taxes? Well, my best guess is that we are going to owe between 10% and 20% more than last year.
- As far as forecasting revenue, well…our pipeline shows $5,000,000 to be closed in the next 6 months, but we’re not confident that the number is accurate.
How do you feel about your investment? What is your reaction to a complete lack of success at meeting expectations? Whose head is on the block as a result of this? How long would you tolerate the continuance of this failure? I’m not sure you’d fire your CFO, CTO, President, HR or your consultant, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t say, “Okay, let’s give it another 30 days.”
WHAT NOBODY TALKS ABOUT
I know I created a bit of a stretch scenario, but the point I want to make is that you probably get a report like this about your sales team; you just don’t know it. What isn’t revealed in a sales meeting or in your monthly meeting with your sales manager is the detail behind the big numbers you talk about. You talk about year over year results, you talk about sales YTD against plan, you might even talk about how you are doing against other sales divisions or peers in your industry. What you don’t talk about is this:
- Over 90% of your results are probably coming from 36% of your sales team. (LinkedIn article on the 80/20 of the 80/20).
- What doesn’t get reported that would make you jump out a window is that the bottom 36% of your sales team is probably responsible for less than 4% of your total sales.
- What the sales manager doesn't tell you is that - of the last 4 hires - only 1 of them is doing better than the people that were replaced with the new hires.
- What you won’t talk about - but need to talk about - is the cost of putting the other 3 in the market for 12 months and then the cost of replacing them with 3 more that won’t make it either. (By the way, over a 5-year period, that is a 2 comma problem).
- What is also probably not part of the discussion is that, if you really wanted to drive profit, you could probably eliminate the bottom 36% and increase profitability significantly.
- You probably won’t have a discussion about how some of your more senior people are not performing nearly as well as some of your new people.
WHAT MATTERS MOST
The challenge to organizations (and what matters most) is the answer to the question: Are we hitting our numbers? As long as that answer is yes, you’re okay. BUT, if you are unwilling to accept 90% correct in your tax estimate or compensation projections… or 90% of the calls getting through or 75% of the customers being happy… or your website being operational 66% of the time, why are you settling for anything less than 100% execution from your entire sales team?
What I know and what I’ve stated before:
- You don’t intentionally hire sales people to fail; so, if they do…
- You either hired them that way or…
- You made them that way
HOW TO FIX A BROKEN SALES ENVIRONMENT
What does this have to do with the 3 Essential Sales Tools? Maybe not everything, but these 3 tools have a lot to do with fixing a broken sales environment.
- Speed to failure – With your new hires, do your best to find out quickly if both of you made the right decision. Make sure that, as you are making the offer, you let them know all the crap they are going to have to go through, what they will be managed to and what is exactly expected in the first 90 days and the following 6 months. Let them know that the hire is going to be probationary and that you have a 3 Strike Rule. (Call me at 513.226.3913 about the 3 Strike Rule).
- Conversation is KING – Despite all the technology that is available to help your salespeople create opportunities, nothing yet has replaced the value of quality conversations. This means you need to have a very high standard for training, practice and preparation before you put people out into the market.
- The technology that you buy to support sales has to support sales not finance. Finance should find its way to use the appropriate sales tool to get the information they need not the other way around. Your sales technology should make it easy for salespeople to communicate to suspects, prospects and clients. It should be easy to use and provide extremely useful information for the sales manager as well as salespeople. It should make it easy for your people to consistently follow your sales process. Finally, it should help you predict with a high level of validity what is actually going to get sold over any given time frame.
Implementing these three sales tools will go a long way to helping you improve your sales environment and improve the productivity of the entire team. In my next blog – What do you know (really know) about your sales manager’s and your team’s WILL TO SUCCEED in sales management and sales?
Call 513.791.3458 now to get a copy of a recent case study on Will to Succeed and the productivity of the sales organization –Ask to speak to Jeni.
Find out about the WILL of your sales team as defined by The World’s #1 Sales Skills and Sales Manager Skills Assessment