I’m not very useful in the kitchen until it’s time for cleanup. While I’m a grill master outdoors, meals that involve recipes, seasoning, marinating, flavoring, fry pans, sauce pans, stove tops or ovens are a challenge. On the bright side, I do know how to use the microwave oven! My wife is a gourmet cook and her food is better tasting and healthier than what the best restaurants serve, so it’s OK that I’m useless and incompetent at cooking and baking.
Yesterday, I had a craving for an apple fritter and you can’t do much worse health-wise than a yummy, gooey, apple fritter. I got to thinking that it wouldn’t be as bad if there was a healthy apple fritter, so I looked for a recipe and found one with almond flour and other healthy ingredients that used actual apples. Then, I believed that the recipe appeared simple enough for me to follow and bake those apple fritters myseslf. It sounds crazy now that I’m actually typing the words. It was crazy.
For the first time, I knew what it felt like to totally suck at something other than golf.
The fritters came out mushy, like pudding. They lacked flavor, like cauliflower crusts. Instead of looking like apple fritters, they looked like cookies. You can’t believe what an epic failure this was! I would have been better off to outsource which, in the apple fritter world, would have meant a trip to Dunkin or Starbucks and the ten-minute round trip would have not only been faster, it would have been perfect! And that, somehow, leads me to sales performance.
We know that 50% of all salespeople suck, but with one huge difference from my baking. Those salespeople aren’t aware that they suck and they don’t believe that they suck because they don’t know what great selling looks like, sounds like, or feels like. If they haven’t been exposed to professional selling methodologies and sales processes, and had those demonstrated to them via expert, unscripted role-plays, then they would have no clue that the presenting and proposing they have been doing is woefully inadequate. I was lucky. I’ve had great meals both at home and in restaurants so I could easily recognize the difference, but how would crappy salespeople determine that they were crappy? Even worse, some of these ineffective salespeople lead their sales teams in revenue because they inherited the biggest and best accounts, well-established large territories, have years in their industry and/or territory and are viewed as an expert. None of that makes them very good at selling, but those scenarios would certainly contribute to ongoing, recurring account revenue. While the Account Manager role and its various variations do fall under the category of sales, let’s be honest. They aren’t selling anything to anybody. Their customers continue to buy from them because they are happy. The reality is that most of the account managers are glorified customer service reps who provide quotes and proposals.
While this is an indictment of half the salespeople in the world, salespeople are not the only ones at fault. Sure, they haven’t invested in their careers. They haven’t taken it upon themselves to improve. They aren’t willing to leave their comfort zones. But what about the companies they work for? Those companies haven’t invested the money, resources, time, or effort to transform their sales organizations and/or salespeople either. And the argument that salespeople should have already developed these skills on their own is a bad one as there are no universally accepted requirements, courses or credentials that would even make that possible.
Companies can fix this but it requires effort and commitment. Here are the 10 steps:
- Raise Expectations as to what a sales-driven organization should achieve if everyone was committed to sales excellence
- Evaluate the Sales Organization using an Objective Management Group (OMG) Certified Sales Expert and Sales Team Evaluation
- Review the results with your sales expert and allow them to recommend the appropriate next steps
- Have your sales expert help you customize and optimize your Sales Process as well as all of the following steps
- Integrate custom playbooks and a scorecard into your sales process
- Integrate the sales process into your CRM application
- Replace salespeople who aren’t part of your future and use OMG’s Sales Candidate Assessment to identify the best candidates for the role
- Train and coach your sales managers and senior sales leaders to improve the sales culture and consistently and effectively coach up their salespeople and sales managers
- Train the ever-living crap out of your sales team to until they can execute both the sales process and sales methodology and are capable of having high quality conversations with their prospects and customers.
- Hold everyone accountable to change.
This can work. And it will work as long as there is commitment from the top down, not only in approving the money, but with visible endorsement, support, and participation in this sales transformation process from beginning to end. If anyone on the sales team senses that commitment from the top is lacking, or this is simply another flavor of the month, the transformation will fail.
In other words, don’t be like me and the apple fritters, thinking that you can bake this sales transformation yourself because I just provided you with a recipe. Outsource this important initiative to the sales consultancy equivalent of Dunkin’ or Starbucks.