Lately I’ve spent a lot more time thinking and writing about the sales process.
Because as much as I am focused on marketing and strategy, sales is integral to overall success. Or, as the saying that is often attributed to Thomas J. Watson goes, “nothing happens until a sale is made.”
As we move into a new year, I think taking a moment to look at the sales process is pretty important.
For a number of years, we have seen a big jump forward in sales tools and technologies, but we haven’t necessarily seen the same jump forward in sales performance across the board.
In a keynote I heard recently, I heard something ridiculous that went something like “6% of sales people are responsible for 94% of sales.”
That may or may not be entirely accurate, but it does flow nicely with the Pareto Principle that says 80% of your results will come from 20% of your actions.
This idea is likely more important for sales folks than ever before because as we have moved from a sales culture that prized compliance and consistent actions that were consistent across your entire team, we need more creativity and more thoughtful engagement by our sales teams.
Now more than ever.
The old days of sales people being able to get by on a sales script are gone.
What we need now is a much higher level of business acumen from our salesforce.
This means that we can’t silo our salespeople off from the rest of the business.
This will require that our sales people can’t just talk specs, they actually have to talk outcomes.
Instead of focusing on activities like how many cold calls you make a day, the modern sales person must be comfortable being responsible for a set of outcomes.
The needs of the modern sales force are going to put a lot of pressure on sales managers too.
Because for far too long, management by numbers has been a common and acceptable form of growing sales teams.
“Do more of this.”
“Do less of that.”
“Are you making your calls?”
These are all ways of avoiding the work.
The work now is about thinking, learning, and creating. Not just doing.
But sales people can’t do it alone.
So my question for the sales managers out there is: “Will you let your teams do incredible work this year?”