Back in the day I was employed in high tech and worked for a company full of good people, with an excellent product, that solved a boat load of problems most large firms didn't even know they had...but we struggled to sell it...
I mean this stuff was IM-PRESS-IVE!
It was shiny, had blinky blue lights, was streamlined compared to the competition, and ran circles around them in head-to-head comparisons.
There was only one problem: getting prospects to listen to the presentation.
If someone would listen to the presentation we were golden because we had good stuff. In fact, the entire week of training for new sales people was geared around mastering the presentation, which assumed, of course, we had a meeting with a room full of decision-makers.
That's all well and good and I like having a nice slide deck to WOW my audience, but how did I get in front of that audience?
So I asked the (now-downsized) VP of Sales how we got the meeting in the first place.
He cocked his head, raised his eyebrows, cleared his throat, looked over at the lady in charge of operations and said, "Laura, how would you answer that?"
As it turned out, this fancy gear didn't sell itself.
Marketing couldn't generate leads.
The inside sales staff was completely mis-informed as to how to uncover leads and set appointments with qualified prospects, so it didn't matter
- what my "goal sheet" said, or
- how good my "attitude" was or
- what my "belief system" was.
I was not going to make the arbitrarily-assigned quota with the product-training-disguised-as-sales-training they put me through.
Why Do People Buy?
People don't buy because you have a vision board or a good attitude or a positive belief system, as my sales manager was leading me to believe.
Without a clear understanding of
- who bought this gear,
- why they bought it,
- why they wouldn't buy it,
- how to handle
- receptionists and
- assistants and
- technical buyers and
- financial buyers and
- executives and
- end-users and
- how to pique the interests of senior staff so they INVITED me in for a meeting with a mutually-agreed upon Agenda...
I was TOAST!
But the sales managers didn't know the answers to these questions.
These were suit-wearing, Merlot-drinking, Miller-Heiman-following, high-brow dudes who were well-versed on the whole "consultative selling" lexicon but couldn't SET an appointment to save their humidors and wine coolers.
However, they had a quota handed down from on high and bye-golly, they weren't going to back down from that number. So they brought on headcount, divided the quota by the number of people they hired, gave us some product and pitch-delivery training and turned us loose.
Therein lies the problem and the key to sales manager development: teach them to manage the BEHAVIOR of their sales people and then pay on results.
But if you polled 100 sales managers I'd bet you $1,000 that you wouldn't get 7 that could give you an intriguing USP (Unique Selling Proposition), or a captivating "elevator pitch" or ask even one question of a CEO that would make her say, "Huh, that's a great question. Call my office tomorrow to set up a time to get together and discuss that in more detail."
Until you master these abilities and teach your sales people to do the same and then hold them accountable to do it daily (like I do in the No More Sales Duds program) you'll struggle with sales management development, you'll have poor sales results, you'll miss quotas, suffer high turnover in your sales staff and basically scratch your head bald.
It doesn't have to be that way.
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