I don’t really care whether or not you like, approve of, tolerate, or agree with President Trump and/or the issues he stands for. Doesn’t matter to me. And you shouldn’t care what I think of him or which side of that invisible center line I am on. Shouldn’t matter to you. While this is an article about coaching salespeople, I am going to use the current divisiveness as an analogy to help you better understand how sales leaders can have a huge impact on your salespeople.
If you’re on the side that hates the President and can’t wait for him to leave office when Biden gets elected, you might be watching CNN. They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for attack. They will rarely, if ever, share any of his accomplishments, wins or achievements and even lie to make sure he is constantly vilified. What fun for his critics!
If you’re on the side that loves, likes or tolerates the President and you prefer that he be reelected instead of Biden, you might be watching FOX. They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for praise. They will rarely, if ever, share his disappointments, defeats or mistakes and even lie to make sure he is praised (except on their hard news shows which do tend to go right down the middle). What fun for his fans!
OK, so that should have been detached and objective enough to prevent anyone getting upset with me so far. Hooray for me because that isn’t easy these days. But you ask, what does all this have to do with coaching salespeople through an opportunity review?
There are two sides to every story. Trump is rarely as horrific as CNN makes him out to be and rarely as awesome as FOX makes him out to be. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. The same holds true for your salespeople when you ask them to tell you about a current opportunity and why it might be in a stage of the pipeline that it’s been stalled in for weeks or months.
Your salesperson might explain what a great opportunity this is, how well they have connected with their contact, the good feedback they have received from their conversations, why they expect movement in a week or two, how this is just the tip of the iceberg because there’s more where this came from, and they are extremely confident. Like FOX talking about Trump.
You look in your CRM application and observe that critical milestones have not been met, it’s been stuck in stage 2 for 60 days, the salesperson still has not met with the decision maker, doesn’t know the compelling reason why they would switch to your company, and noted that their company has been buying from the same incumbent for 8 years yet the salesperson hasn’t uncovered a single negative issue about that incumbent. You begin to think that this is about getting a lower price from you to keep the incumbent honest. You conclude that this is a terrible opportunity. Like CNN talking about Trump.
As with the coverage of Trump, an opportunity review with a salesperson is often two tales about the same prospect. The salesperson’s version compared with yours. FOX compared with CNN.
This is very important! If you begin to review an opportunity without that difference in mind, without looking for holes, without looking to challenge them, without looking to invalidate or dismiss their optimism, it will be a wasted review. Your job is to help your salespeople to better understand their own next steps to either move the opportunity forward, justify leaving it where it is, or abort the opportunity altogether. Often times, your salespeople are way too close to the opportunity to see it clearly and objectively. This will be especially true when your salespeople don’t have enough opportunities in their pipeline, causing them to be even more attached to and hopeful for the few opportunities they do have.
Your salespeople don’t know what they don’t know and can’t do what they can’t do. That’s why you’re there!
Politics is the business of where different parties stand on various issues. It’s supposed to be about healthy debate. It’s not supposed to be as divisive and nasty as it has become. Similarly, a solid, thoughtful, helpful opportunity review should be a healthy debate about the opportunity. The salesperson should not be attacked or made to feel bad. All criticism should be constructive.
Are you conducting productive and effective opportunity reviews with every salesperson every day? If not, then today is a great day to start!