On a frigid New England morning, I pulled into a Dunkin’ drive thru and noticed that there were only ten cars ahead of me and that meant that it shouldn’t take more than five minutes to get through the fast-moving line. Contrast that to the Starbucks drive thru. There were five cars ahead of me and that could take from ten to fifteen minutes because of how long it takes to prepare beverages at Starbucks. That ten to fifteen minutes is a freakin’ dream come true compared to Panera Bread. I don’t know if you have Panera Bread where you are but I love the food at Panera. However, if there was ever a restaurant chain that shouldn’t have a drive thru window, Panera, at least the one in my town, fits the bill. When I pull into the Panera line, I see that there are two cars ahead of me and I know for certain that it’s going to take twenty minutes to get through their line. At lunch time I order ahead using their app but on that cold New England morning I’m not getting out of the car so I’m going to live or die by the drive thru. Yet despite the intolerable wait times and ridiculously bad customer service, I return time and time again. All it takes is to reset my expectations so that I no longer get upset with the twenty-minute wait.
This all begs the question, is the sales force at your company more like the Dunkin’, Starbucks, or Panera drive-thru? Today’s article will explain how to answer that question.
If your sales force meets or exceeds budget and the revenue flows through the pipeline easily and consistently, then you have a Dunkin’-like sales force. It only seems to take a couple of people to make a Dunkin’ line zip right along so your sales force is mean and lean and gets the job done.
If your sales force meets budget, but it takes a lot of hand-holding, pressure, accountability, hard work and additional reps to do it, you have a Starbucks-like sales force. It seems to take at least four baristas to move a Starbucks line along but they make it happen.
If you have to lower your expectations, and the sales force still fails to meet budget, then you have a Panera-like sales force. You don’t have enough reps, those you do have under-perform, most projected closes are delayed, and your win rate is very low. It seems that Panera has a single employee taking drive thru orders, making the food, packaging the order, collecting the money and handing over the order before miserably taking the next order.
The reality is that those three drive thru lines perfectly describe most sales forces.
Do you remember the old ads for the car rental companies? Hertz advertised that “We’re number one.” Avis marketed that because they were number two, “We try harder.”
I would say the same is true for the Starbucks-like sales force. While Dunkin’ is like the Apple sales force selling iPhones, with people waiting in line to place their orders, the Starbucks-like sales force tries harder. They have to work for every order and since their products are more expensive, they must utilize the more difficult consultative approach, and sell value to generate revenue.
Consultative selling is more difficult because it depends on the two skills that most salespeople have not come close to mastering; listening and questioning.
As you can see below from ten of the twenty-one selling competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) measures, only 15% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength. Only the Closing competency has a smaller percentage of salespeople who are strong in the competency. And this isn’t from some small sample size. This is data from the evaluations and assessments of 1,937,474
Let’s drill down into a few of the ten attributes of the Consultative Seller competency. We find that only:
- 27% of salespeople have listening skills as a strength
- 24% have Asks Enough Questions as a strength
- 41% have Asks Good Questions as a strength.
It’s pretty ugly.
The Starbucks-like sales force has mastered the consultative approach but most sales forces have not. What does it take to move from “have not” to “have mastered?”
Lots and lots of training and coaching on consultative selling in the context of a consultative sales process. And you should have your sales force evaluated by an OMG-Certified sales expert to properly set expectations as to how long it will take, who can improve, how much improvement to expect, and how much more revenue you should expect. And that’s just on the Consultative competency. You should want to know that about all twenty-one sales core competencies!
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