Unpopular opinion – sales people are among the least capable people in your organization.
Whoa. Did I just write that?
Why would I say that? Because it’s true. Think about it. There are several reasons why I am suggesting that in many organizations, sales people may be the least capable people on your team. As a result, for the sales person it can feel like you’re pushing a big rock up a steep hill.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way and there are things we can do to help.
They typically have the least amount of formal education. I wrote about this a couple weeks ago but apparently I am not done ranting on this yet (https://www.linkedin.com/posts/scottdonaldwinnipeg_dailyscottism-salescoach-salesadvisor-activity-6879834839873277952-CNSF
Most so-called critical positions in a company are filled with formally trained, post-secondary education type professionals like accountants, lawyers, engineers, finance, HR etc.
Not so with sales. We learn on the job and from trial and error. No wonder ramping up sales people can take a long time. I am not saying that sales professionals need a formal education, but they sure could use a lot more ‘sales’ training.
Not really. Sure, we might give them a bunch of ‘product’ training and ‘learn’ them about the features and benefits of your product or service. Those are NOT ‘sales skills’. And if you’re thinking what do you mean by ‘sales skills’…we need to talk.
Sales skills are teachable. According to HubSpot, for 2022 there are 7 essential skills and include Leading with Empathy and Being a Compelling Storyteller https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/10-essential-selling-skills-2014-infographic
I would include skills like Communication (LISTENING!), Customer-focused Mindset, Empathy, Building Trust, Resilience and a Growth Mindset (willingness to learn new and better ways)
Support is not a monthly, quarterly or annual performance review.
In my experience, far to often sales ‘support’ looks like:
“Here are some new brochures”
“Check out this awesome new PowerPoint presentation!”
“You need to increase your activity”
“What do you think you need to do to hit your numbers”?
“Fill out this detailed, time-consuming activity report so I can see what you’re doing”
The other support area that is often lacking is having sales people report to someone can actually help them. Too often I see sales people reporting to individuals that either don’t have the experience to help them (too many people think they can do business development well) or to an individual who may have been successful at selling, but is ineffective or still learning how to best help other people to improve their sales effectiveness.
I am not going to pretend to be a compensation expert. But I have seen examples of what does not work.
One example: You hit your quota for the year, (Yay) and the company rewards you with an even higher quota. Every year.
The other negative compensation tactic I have seen is capping commissions as you don’t want sales people to make too much money. Why not? If the margin is there for the company, why cap the sales professional’s earning potential? It benefits the company as well doesn’t it?
What I can say is this – include your sales people in the quota discussion and make this a collaborative process based on trust and creating a win/win scenario.
Sales tools (CRM)
When I am coaching someone and ask them ‘hey what do you use for a CRM’ and they say something like ‘an Excel spread sheet’, part of me dies a little inside.
Sales enablement tools like a CRM are basic necessities. Like a computer or a phone. Yes, that basic. If there was a RSPCA for sales people (which I guess would be RSPCSP) I would report companies that don’t provide a CRM as being negligent. After my review, you might even lose your sales people to a better sales person ‘forever home’.
There are lots of really good, and even free, CRMs out there.
I could go on but you get the point. We can do better in supporting our sales professionals. So what do I suggest? Glad you asked…
I can help you better support your sales team.
Whether it’s working with your sales professionals directly and/or working with your sales leaders to help them to even better support your sales team, let’s work together to make 2022 a really successful year.
Let’s get that big rock rolling downhill for the benefit of everyone.