This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 5 – ORGANIZATIONAL INTEGRITY

WHAT TYPICALLY HAPPENS NOW
When coaching and motivating are not effective in an environment constructed along the lines described in this book, what does that mean? In short, it means that:

  • expectations for salespeople are clear and measured
  • these expectations have been communicated to the salesperson
  • and yet, for some reason, expectations are not being met

In the preceding chapter on accountability, it was suggested that a sales manager make and take the time and effort to coach and motivate the members of the sales team. As described, this is best done with the assistance of the metrics in the sales process and directed at improving the salesperson’s performance.

Within this system, sometimes a problem is found. Within this system, that problem will have been well-diagnosed and attempts will have been made to fix it.

Even so, sometimes attempts to fix it don’t yield results. When this occurs, what typically happens now and what should be happening in this situation?

No accountability
As previously described, typically there is no accountability at all in most sales organizations. At best, there is accountability to the end-of-the-period revenue target, but no accountability about what salespeople are doing to get there. As previously noted, some of the reasons for this include:

  • The sales manager is selling rather than managing
  • There is no sales process
  • There is a sales process but it is not captured in a way that metrics can be used as a management tool

This is a sadly typical situation in most sales organizations. The salespeople are left to their own devices, and at the end of the period they submit a number. Usually there is a meeting about this number. Without a clear view of the steps required to increase revenue and what efforts each salesperson did or did not make, this meeting is usually a subjective conversation. Once it is over, things go right back to the way they have always been, or the salesperson is fired even though no real efforts have been made to diagnose and fix the lack-of-sales-results problem.

This is sad, because the salesperson more than likely was hired due to the perceived potential to sell. If that salesperson is let go without efforts to understand and correct why sales were not happening, then in many cases it is an opportunity lost ─ with the opportunity costs that come with it!

If accountability, no consequences
Even when the revenue number for a salesperson is below the end of the period revenue target, there often is no consequence. Sales is unique in this respect, for example:

  • If your receptionist only answered the phone 80% of the time and did not step up to a correction plan, you would get a new receptionist.
  • If your accountant only filed the quarterly taxes in three out of the four quarters, you would get a new accountant.
  • If the janitor only cleaned four out of every five rooms, you would get a new janitor.

Why is it that sales gets a “pass” when other departments don’t? It is because management does not have the knowledge of what levers can be used to improve sales. If you don’t know how to fix a problem, then you don’t fix it.

Sometimes, however, there is the knowledge. Sometimes, a sales manager is heavily involved with a salesperson, but without a well-defined sales process, and does know what the problem is with that salesperson. And as often as not, unless the numbers are completely non-existent, nothing changes and the salesperson is still on the job.

Why this occurs is simply speculation, but I suspect that it has to do with the 80/20 Rule and the scarcity mentality.

By the 80/20 Rule, sales managers accept that four out of five salespeople will be sub-par. If this is the expectation, then poorly performing salespeople are indulged just as four of out five negative answers are accepted when prospecting because the fifth answer, statistically, is a “yes.” In prospecting, this math is unavoidable. In your sales organization, you absolutely can do better.

The scarcity mentality dictates that there are no better fish in the sea, so to speak. If you don’t know what you are looking for and don’t know what to do with it once you have found it, then this is true. But this truth is based on assumptions (lack of supply and lack of competence) that are both challengeable ─ as is the truth that falls out of these faulty assumptions. Part I of this book addressed what to look for and Part II what to do once you have found that. Keeping what is dysfunctional makes no sense when there are better options. The scarcity mentality is a mental construct based on a lack of information. With the right information, lack of effort and subsequent results should simply not be tolerated.

This toleration, if left unchecked, sets up an organization culture of mediocrity. Let’s examine that now.

 

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David