How Executives Fail to Understand the Reasons for Poor Sales and Revenue Performance


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“That wasn’t what I expected!”  

You might say that after reading an awesome book, waiting for months and years in anticipation of the movie version, only to be extremely disappointed when the much hyped film failed to live up to what you remembered feeling when turning the pages.

You might also feel let down after leaving a great, but expensive restaurant, when the meal, service or ambiance was quite different from what you had imagined when you heard about the business.

And from experience, I can tell you that once in a blue moon, after evaluating a sales force and presenting the findings, a CEO can become defensive and react poorly to the results.  When it happens, it’s usually a sign that the CEO is out of touch with the sales force.  I’ll share some of the things to which they sometimes react badly:The top 5 findings that a CEO might react poorly to are:

  1. An executive sales leader appears weak on OMG’s Sales Leadership Evaluation.  We might hear “Well the only reason we landed that multi-million dollar contract with that billion dollar company is because of Bob.  He sold it himself.  So how do you explain that?”  The real problem is that the company put a great salesperson in the Sales VP role, and instead of leading and functioning like a Sales VP should, he still wants to be the rainmaker and he is definitely a weak Sales VP!
  2. The entire sales team is weak.  We might hear, “Then how do you explain our double digit growth for the last 5 years?”  The real problem is that the company likely has a product that everyone wants and their success has more to do with great marketing and desirable products than the salespeople beause their salespeple happen to suck!  If they’ve been growing, with this group, at double digits, then they would be growing by leaps and bounds with strong salespeople!
  3. The salespeople have issues around the Will to Sell.  Many of the salespeople lack the kind of commitment to sales success that is required to get to the next level.  We might hear, “I can’t understand how that can happen and I don’t know what to do about it.”  The real problem is that they’ve been hiring the wrong salespeople, focusing on technical skills instead of sales core competencies and in doing so have created a culture of complacency.
  4. With the proper training and coaching, the existing sales force can generate 75% more revenue but it will take 24 months.  We might hear, “That’s a considerable increase.  Why so much and why will it take so long?”  The real problem is that the existing sales force is so weak they are leaving all of that opportunity on the table without the capability to capture it.  It will take 24 months because the gaps are so wide and deep and there is a lengthy sales cycle.
  5. Some of the top account managers evaluate as very weak salespeople.  “Those 3 are our top salespeople!  They can’t be that weak!”  Those 3 manage more revenue than anyone else and they’re important to your success.  However, they aren’t your top 3 salespeople.  If you took their existing accounts away, which they probably inherited, and asked them to build a pipeline, sell some new accounts and close some new business, they would fail in dramatic fashion.

 We could have our eyes wide open and not see what we don’t want to see.  When our expectations aren’t met it causes the three D’s – discomfort, disappointment and distaste.  Sometimes you can’t see the reality of your own sales force until you have the data and use it to look at people, systems, processes and strategies through a different lens.  Companies that fight the data don’t change.  Companies that are afraid of the data don’t have a clue.  And companies that embrace the data grow by leaps and bounds.

The sales force evaluation is the most important and powerful thing you can do at your company.  It leads to better decisions, changes based on science instead of hunches, and improvements based on necessity instead of opportunity.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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