1. Most sales people prospect
The truth is that most sales people do not prospect. If the sales person does, generally it is at a much lower activity level than what is needed. Those sales professionals that do prospect and master the art of prospecting have much larger pipelines, sometimes as much as 4 times, than their counterparts. If you need more business, prospecting is usually a part of the recipe. The problem is that organizations spend money training for prospecting skills instead of dealing with the real issue—discomfort and fear!
2. Forecasts are accurate
Some people are conservative and others are optimistic. Some have self doubts and others probably should. Whether it is too little ego or too much, rarely do sales people accurately predict their performance with a forecasting tool. Add to the already inaccurate approaches that many organizations utilize, sales managers often pressure sales people to hit their numbers causing more unpredictability. A system that is objective and coupled with open, honest discussion without fear of reprisal works best. That does not mean there should not be accountability. There is a difference between being accountable and being punished by an emotionally based manager(s).
3. People with good selling skills perform the best
Sure. Good selling skills are helpful, but what are good selling skills. What type of business are you in? What is your sales skill profile? Is it still accurate? Are your current people qualified based on the profile? Is it correct or even defined well enough? Many times we hire because of a great personality only to find the individual can’t close a sale. We should have a clear profile of what success looks like in our sales organization. What are the competencies, personality traits, knowledge, and motivational drives needed to succeed here.
4. Our sales performance is down because of the economy
Oh I love this one. When the sales are good organizations tout how great they are and how great their sales team is. When the sales are down organizations blame…the economy. Well you can’t have it both ways. Either the economy drives your sales up and down, or your people do, or both. Personally I have helped organizations steal market share and grow when the economy is down and their competitors are shrinking. All things being equal, I put more weight on the sales team. We have to take ownership for our performance–the good, the bad, and the ugly.
5. Let’s get a motivational speaker
There is nothing wrong with a motivational speaker or the riding high feeling you get during the session. But within a few short moments back in reality, for most people, that feeling dissipates. Motivational speakers are great for rewarding your people, for pumping them up before or during an event, or for a short term sales rally. But if you want sustained growth your organization must employ a more systemic approach to increasing sales.
If we want to engage our sales people we must do more, do better, and do it honestly–collectively and as individuals.