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Thought For The Day

Procrastination Costing Your Sales Team

© The Gulas Group 2010


Every so often it makes sense to step back and look at how we are doing things. Evaluating the way we sell is no exception. But sometimes, because with all the other business challenges we face, it's easier to procrastinate. This has been true of the selling function, as you'll see.

Deals are bigger and information is more widespread. As a result, buyers have changed how they buy, but salespeople have not responded to the changes.

It's in the middle of the largest recession in history, but the vast majority of salespeople still sell like it was 1970. That's why ...

  • It's more difficult to get appointments with decision makers.
  • You are perceived more and more as a commodity.
  • Sales cycles are longer and fewer deals close.
  • 50% of sales executives surveyed are unhappy with their sales results.

The selling landscape is changing rapidly. What worked well a few years ago is no longer effective. Companies that recognize the trends and adapt accordingly will be rewarded with increased market share and profitability.

In 2006, when the economy was booming, 41.5% of companies surveyed were unhappy with their sales results. As the economy slides into a recession, sales goals will be far more difficult to achieve.

Key Points

  • A stable, well-trained sales force that follows a sales process will always deliver better results.
  • Sales is the engine that drives your business. Don't assume that because your reps are experienced, they are up to the challenge.
  • Your traditional feature/benefit sales pitch is probably a liability in a complex, relationship-oriented sale.
  • Customers today want problem solvers, not product pushers.
  • Companies attempt to increase revenues by increasing the rate and the amount of activity, but this effort is less and less effective.
  • Training your salespeople is critical if you want to grow profitably.

"Reinvent" Selling, that's what an article in the January 28, 2008 issue of the Wall Street Journal suggests.

Ram Charan, a business consultant that works with the senior executives at the likes of General Electric and Verizon Communications, says that he "began to see companies with good strategies, good technology, and good costs asking, 'Why are we not getting better results?' ""The Sales Force Has Been Neglected"

He found that companies had been focusing on the back end of the business: operations, accounting, finance, overhead. But the sale force had been neglected." In a slow economy marketing and sales are often cut. The usual is who is being cut and why.

So what has gone wrong? Charan suggests the following.

"The sales function has traditionally been about execution. They get training to know the product, and they beat the competition on price." But the world has changed. Copying a product has become easy to do. As a result, "It has become very hard to differentiate yourself in the eyes of the customer for business-to-business sales. So salespeople should not sell the product any more. They should find out what the customer needs."

He continues, "Salespeople need to learn the business of the customer. They need to learn how to ask the right questions. They need to have analytical skills to diagnose a customer's business."

Yes, Mr. Charan is correct. Something is very wrong in the world of selling. As a sales force development company, we've known this for a long time.

While many training programs attempt to teach more productive selling skills, the bottom line is that changes in the way people sell have been minimal, and it's creating a chaotic selling environment that does not serve the customer well, and costs your company dearly.

There is indeed a state of chaos in selling today, although most of us are too close to the trees to see the forest. We're so involved in the day-to-day sales battle that we've lost sight of the need to adjust our strategy to deal with the subtle changes that have occurred over the years. These subtle changes are now exposing many weaknesses in our salespeople and the way they sell.

These mounting inefficiencies are causing you to work too hard to obtain simply mediocre results.

If you're not sure these assertions are relevant to you and your sales team, take a moment to think about the following questions. Chances are they'll help you understand if you have been procrastinating in evaluating your sales team/or you have things under control.

  • Why did that last super star you hired fail to produce?
  • Why are most sales forecasts not even close to reality?
  • Why don't deals close when your reps say the will?
  • Why don't your reps want to make more money?
  • Are your sales managers really managing the sales effort?
  • Why do your reps always seem to need concessions to close business? (Why can't they sell the value of your company's products and services?)
  • Why do customers say one thing, and then do something entirely different?
  • Why does the typical company sales meeting leave everyone de-motivated and frustrated?
  • What really happens between the initial contact with a prospect and the end of the sales cycle?
  • Why didn't your last investment in sales training pay off?

To get your free detailed analysis of your sales team follow this link or copy and paste www.gulasgroup.com/ratesalesforce.shtml

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