There is a continuing discussion, or maybe a debate, or outright arguments as to whether sales, professional selling, is an art form or a science. The real challenge is that the answer is not black and white, unlike other disciplines where there are definitive delineators, sales is not so black of black and white, leaving a lot of room for debate, and more importantly for mistakes, and hurt feelings. Given the fact that the playing field is mostly grey, it is hard to persuade people, especially the unwilling, that they could be more productive if they were to sell in either the black or the white, rather than drift in an endless sea of grey.
Sometimes watching sales people in action is like watching a tennis match; the prospect asks something and we lob back an answer right away. Other times the prospect will make a comment, and we slam back an answer, at times with more top spin than one would ever need. While there are a number of good lessons in sports for sales people, a meeting should not look like the final match at a Grand Slam event.
While I think it is important for experts and pundits to challenge sales people to stretch and evolve, to stay on top and ahead of evolving trends and technology, it is also important to keep it real. Since the advent of technology, especially from the start of the last century on, there has been a debate about the impact of technology on selling and sellers. The recurring prediction that sales people will be replaced or diminished in importance by automation, seems a favorite among some.
Dear Jenae, I have approximately 25-30 potential clients that contacted us inquiring for business. I send them our marketing material as they request. And then I don’t hear from them again. I even follow up, and then nothing. Any thoughts or techniques on what I could be doing wrong? I would love to hear from you.
If you’re ever in the scenic Green Mountain region of Vermont, tour the Ben & Jerry’s factory for a tasty and entertaining experience. You’ll get a real sense of the company’s history and their decidedly anti-establishment grass-roots slant that remained their guiding light since startup. Stop by the gift shop at the end and you’ll find Co-Founder Jerry Greenfields’s whimsical slogan “IF IT’S NOT FUN, WHY DO IT?” emblazoned on various articles and keepsakes for sale.
Recently I was listening to Kelly Hrudey, former LA King goalie, and now a Hockey Night In Canada commentator. He was taking calls when a father of a young and budding goalie asked what is the one piece of advice Hrudey would give to the young and perhaps future star. Now you would think that if it came down to one thing, the one thing that would really make a difference, perhaps change the young man’s approach, it would have to be profound and special, something perhaps not obvious to hockey neophytes, and certainly not something that the average Joe public could deliver. Can you guess what he said?
An honest self-review of your last 12 months’ sales history will likely include a few reflections on where your efforts did not produce the outcome you had wanted. Even if you’re performing in the upper percentile and faring better than others in your firm – or in your industry as a whole – you’ll still likely admit there were some opportunities that you just didn’t win. In other words, you could have (and should have) achieved more.
Where a sales person invests their time is directed by the compensation plan put in place. While many look at sales compensation as a one-dimensional issue, there are actually three core components to consider when developing the plan.
When I ask sales people what their biggest challenge is in getting to speak directly with decision makers they are targeting, and voice mail or gatekeepers are at the top of the list, (while call reluctance should be right there with the other two, they don’t usually volunteer that fact). We have dealt with voice mailin the past, so today we’ll look at “gatekeepers”.
Hiring sales people from the competition always seems like a no-brainer, but there are many pitfalls with this hiring strategy.
Life would be grand if we could sprinkle a few seeds in the ground, fertilize, add water…and a great sales person would sprout. This is truly a pipedream, but one often pursued by small business owners and sales management executives in their quest to find great sales talent. Rather than grow their own, they attempt to steal the crops from their competitors. Why not, their competitor is much better at growing a sales organization than they are. They will grab some magic from their competitor’s land and they too can enjoy great success.