Three Things Every Sales Force Needs to Know


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Recently I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine who is a director level sales executive for a global Fortune 100 organization.  We have been known to mix it up, dig into big issues, analyze and solve them.  Once we finished our expert analysis of all the offseason roster moves made by the NY Jets, we directed our conversation to our second love – sales.  As our conversation progressed, I learned that his sales organization was struggling mightily.  By the end of our conversation, we had identified three root causes of their problems.

Many of the problems could be traced systemically back to basic causes, all rooted in a lack of understanding of three very important things:

1. Company Direction

While the focus du jour of the company emphasizes the acquisition of new business, all signals seem to indicate that the de facto focus is still on cultivating business from existing customers.  The sales force is receiving mixed messages.

There is little doubt that without a clearly conceived and communicated vision, organizations perish.  It is the responsibility of sales executives and sales managers to disseminate a message clearly, simply and powerfully.  As long as the right individuals are hired, given a proper vision and realize an unwavering commitment from leadership to achieve these goals, sales success becomes highly attainable.

2. Product, Services and Differentiation

This lack of understanding goes deeper to include why this product is priced the way it is.  The lack of understanding of cost structure, coupled with not understanding how to de-commoditize the product, is causing a serious disconnect between sales reps, prospects and the company.  Every company should employ the tactic of training its salespeople to understand its pricing strategy.

When I was growing up, my family had a little Italian deli in upstate New York.  The keys to being solvent were obvious.  Whatever we charged for a sandwich had better be more than the sum of the costs that went into making it (bread, cold cuts, electricity, wrapping paper, etc.).  Frankly, I am amazed at how many people in sales today have no idea of what goes into making, maintaining and marketing their product or service.  To these people, sales is just a game that is played by hanging on long enough, doing the compulsories, and manipulating the numbers and activities into creating a situation of positive earnings for themselves.  This thought brings us to our third cause.

3. Basic Priorities Every Salesperson Should Observe

There are three basic priorities that salespeople must understand and keep in a specific order in order to ensure the symbiotic health of all involved.  If these basic priorities are observed in any order other than the prescribed order you put all three risk.  However, when these priorities are embraced and observed in the prescribed order, it is a recipe for success for all those involved. 

The priorities in the exact order in which they need to be followed are the health of your:

1) Company

2) Customer

3) Paycheck

A healthy company is best suited to take care of their customers, offer the best products and services, and compensate its sales people.  An essential element of a healthy company is having healthy customers.   A healthy customer is loyal, especially when they can attribute some of their wellbeing to your business relationship.  Top sales earnings are a natural byproduct of getting the first two priorities straight.

So we’ve diagnosed the issues.  We need a strong vision, clearly communicated to a well-aligned sales force that has a deep understanding of their offering.  Now it’s time to administer the treatment.  Here’s a question for you all, how do you recommend administering this treatment?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Tyner
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  1. David: I’ve felt the pain you describe, and I’d be the last to question that the three issues you discussed are truly rampant in many sales forces, but I’m curious about the hubris in your statement:

    “By the end of our conversation, we had identified three root causes of their problems.” Sheesh! Two guys figured that out in one conversation? Either you’re really good, or there were company salespeople giving you insight from the sidelines. You didn’t mention the latter, so I’m curious if they would corroborate your conclusions, given how many variables could cause salespeople to under perform.

  2. Andrew,
    I am just glad that the statement lacks humility and not the writer.

    Actually, as you could imagine the conversation was more of a culmination of years of dialogue and intimate knowledge of this particular company.

    I can tell you that the sales people from this company agree for the most part, although this post has sparked quite a bit of controversy therein. The conversation was more centered on some action items he would take to his team in attempt re-focus his group amidst so many competing objectives.

    Sometimes, it seems that is is easy to identify problems, offering remedial action can be a different matter.

    Andrew, as always your comments, like your posts, always challenge and inspire…and I thank you for it!


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