Big Company Strategies That SMB Sales Teams Can Emulate

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On a recent Saturday I was running errands which took me through 3 local towns and a nearby city.  Even though I have traveled this route more than 5,000 times, it was the first time I noticed the difference in the various business signs along the road.

All of the national brands, chains, franchises, and well known businesses had professionally designed and recognizable logos.  All of the local, single-location, small businesses had signs that were crappy.  It would be a stretch to say their business signs displayed their logos because their signs, and probably their advertisements, just used different combinations of fonts that you have on your computer.  They were not professionally designed and they were definitely not attractive.  There was one exception.  The new BBQ/wings shop opening their second location has a very professional logo that makes them look like a national chain.  Not only does it draw ones eye to the store, it gives them instant credibility.  After all, isn't that one of the attractions of a franchise?  Even though you may operate a single location, you get to ride the coattails of their logo and reputation and instantly become a national or international business!

I know. The previous paragraph was about branding and marketing; not sales.  But there is a correlation to my theory that a slick, professionally designed logo, makes you look bigger and more successful. Give me a moment to explain how that applies to sales.

If a professionally designed logo makes you look bigger, more successful, and provides credibility, wouldn't the same theory apply to a professionally trained sales team?

Think about the last dozen or so B2B salespeople that have called on you.  From the cold emails, to the cold phone calls, to the demo where they read their own slides, to the unqualified proposal or quote and the agreement they want you to sign before you ever indicated you were interest in buying, 8 out of 10 salespeople suck at this.  These salespeople are basically throwing as much glue up in the air and just trying to see what sticks.  While they close a deal here and there because of perfect timing was and/or luck, sales process, sales methodology and sales capabilities were completely absent.

Data from Objective Management Group (OMG) backs this up.

The top 5% of all salespeople have elite selling skills.
The next 15% are very strong.
The next 30% are serviceable - at best. 
The bottom 50% are pretty crappy.

When a crappy salesperson calls on you and makes you wonder why you gave this salesperson any of your valuable time, isn't that the same as the boring font that doesn't stand out, isn't attractive, and screams unsuccessful? 

While I was composing this post, I received a voicemail from a crappy, bottom 50%er that was cold calling me.  I can't play the message but this is a word-for-word transcription:

Hi, this is Mary. I'm calling from [withheld] for [withheld] on a recorded line. I'm calling in today to show you a percent my business proposal in line with your phone system and for you to know more about our promotion, please contact me at [withheld] at extension [withheld]. Thank you. Have a great day. Bye.

Isn't that the same as the sign that suggests you might do better going elsewhere?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge supporter of small business and over the past 50 years started four of my own.  But just as logos make a huge difference, professionally trained salespeople make a huge difference as well.

Big companies have an advantage.  They not only have the branding and marketing to create awareness, they also have the power to buy their customers through discounts, deals and incentives.  How can a small or medium business compete with that? 

Through better selling.  To show they are a better choice.  To prove that they are a better fit. By taking a consultative approach and selling value.  By building stronger relationships.  By taking the time to listen and empathize.  By qualifying.

Suppose you wanted custom built-in cabinets and you have some basic handyman skills whereby you can measure, cut, glue, hammer and paint.  You can probably build a functional cabinet.  But if you hire a professional cabinet maker, it will be more than functional.  It will also look amazing with exacting miter joints, beautiful molding, perfect-fitting drawers and doors, and a silky smooth finish.  Hiring a professional matters if you care how it will look.  Professionally training your sales team matters if you care about win rates, efficiency, accurate forecasts, consistency, and landing the most profitable and leverage accounts.

In the fall of 2020, when our son was moving onto a college campus that would be 55% female after attending an all boys High School I said, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."  The same advice applies to CEOs and Sales Leaders who have some selling experience.  Just because you can sell doesn't mean you should be the one to create the sales process and train your salespeople.  There is way too much at stake to rely on a DIY sales approach.

Do you think there are large companies that don't professionally train their salespeople?  They all do it.  If you want to achieve large company results, do what large companies do.  Slick, professionally designed logos and professionally trained salespeople.

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