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Sales Transformation: What Does It Mean?

Sales Transformation sales report cardSales Transformation is one of those phrases. The kind that many people bandy about without understanding, like "optimized solution". This leads to "mutual mystification", a common problem in selling, where the two people believe the other person in the conversation knows what they're talking about and agrees on the definition...but they do not. Not at all.

What Sales Transformation Is NOT

Sales Transformation is not an "upgrade" to existing selling skills.

It is not using the same process or techniques we were using before to achieve higher conversions.

It is not upselling.

This is the principle misconception we have to get past.

"Transformation" means, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, the salesperson's entire approach must be different.

I have read many complaints that selling--especially as perceived by the public--is only about the salesperson collecting as many scalps as they can in a week; dropping the project right after collecting the money; and in general not giving a damn whether the whole thing works out for the client or not. In fact, retail sales expert Bob Phipps points out how Staples is concentrating on short term sales targets by using outdated techniques.

If this is true, Staples is in need of a genuine sales transformation.

Can you see the difference?

What Sales Transformation IS

The true sales transformation isn't in technique or even in approach. It's in PURPOSE.

Is your sales team genuinely interested in helping people?

If the solutions your company offers are not truly the best answer to your prospect's problems, are your salespeople willing to instantly and politely rule them out as a potential customer at this time? (I can hear the gasps.)

Having open and honest conversations with prospects--ones where the prospects really open up--is much easier when this is the case.

Training firm Force Management explains with statistics just how important ongoing reinforcement is in achieving this sales transformation. It isn't a one-time Rah Rah seminar and everyone's converted. It's WORK.

Check out these numbers, from the Force Management article, on how much a difference ongoing reinforcement meant to performance...and we're talking about average orders of $137,000 here:

Customer Retention 74% vs 67%
Teams Meeting Quota 79% vs 71%
Reps Meeting Quota 63% vs 55%

About an 8% increase in performance with the companies who had ongoing reinforcement. With a $137K average deal size, do you think this makes a huge impact on their income statement?

So how do you know whether your team can handle a sales transformation? This is a "There's No Going Back" decision. Your salespeople must be coachable and trainable. The truth is you will probably lose one or two top performers, who resent the change. It's the same as when you alter their compensation structure. Be ready for that. And realize you will need a program of ongoing reinforcement: the change is not going to happen overnight.

But the fact is it's necessary for survival in the world ahead.

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What NOT to Do In Sales: Two Terrible Examples

What Not To Do In SalesWhat NOT to do in sales is just as valuable to know as what TO do. Yet sales leaders are not always in agreement about the best way to move ahead. Recently I found two articles that share, in my opinion, terrible advice. And I want you to be on the watch for misinformation like this.

Titles That Don't Deliver Show You What Not To Do In Sales

First, we have a piece entitled "Top Sales Techniques to Revolutionize Your Business". Sounds good, right? But the first thing the writer does is start talking about "the" sales process--as if there was only one!--and how well-known it is.

Believing there is only one sales process is a huge example of what not to do in sales.

We could swiftly begin by separating sales processes into the traditional features-and-benefits style and the consultative approach. Two right there. The fact is, though, that each company has its very own sales process. Many of them don't even have their process written down. They don't understand it. Their process is sloppy and undocumented, but by golly that baby is their baby...and even if they don't consciously know it, they're following its every wild twist and turn.

In short, there are millions of sales processes.

So don't tell me only one exists, and it's "well understood".

The initial of four "techniques" merely shows the author's lack of having worked with a true sales coach. "Get off my back and leave me alone!" is the cry of the front line salesperson, not a sales leader. And it demonstrates that in the author's experience, close supervision of performance according to quotas rather than behaviors has been the norm.

The only thing this writer does get right is the fact that sales training is an ongoing process. You won't get much from a one-time shot in the arm. Which leads us to our next bad sales article.

What Not To Do In Sales Training

"Train Your Sales Team This Afternoon" this author exclaims. Wow. And this is from a sales training outfit.

Expecting a magic return from a single short investment in training is another big example of what not to do in sales.

Was this article promoted by a slowdown in business? They of all people ought to know better. You cannot get very far at all in one sales training session. If you've been following my commentary, you know that ongoing reinforcement is an absolute requirement for sales success. Otherwise, the salesperson falls back into their old comfort zone and results.

The only possible plus I could take from this article is that it may get a company doing something about sales training...and something is slightly better than nothing.

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The Real Reason Salespeople Fail to Hit Their Targets

Real Reason Salespeople FailThe real reason salespeople fail is they don't know what they're doing. And it gets worse. Company leaders are not committed to ongoing sales education and reinforcement. In tough times, the very times the edge is especially needed, education and travel to get that education are quickly cut.

What CEOs Believe About the Real Reason Salespeople Fail

CEOs say their salespeople are

  • 12 - 18 months behind strategy
  • calling too low in the organization, and don't reach decision makers
  • unable to tell the story, so the focus becomes price not value
  • the wrong people--poor screening lead to bad sales hires.

This data comes from a study by the Corporate Executive Board, reported in a 2-page article by Real Business magazine.

A truly disturbing stat from page 2 of that article reveals that in 1986 a typical knowledge worker could retain 76% of the knowledge necessary to be effective, but by 2013 that retention ability had dropped to 5%. Five percent! Talk about having to be retrained after every coffee break. This is a reflection on the speed of technological change and buyer habits. But the point is, if you don't plan for this need to keep current, you'll fall behind as soon as you begin.

Lack of Ongoing Education a Key Factor In the Real Reason Salespeople Fail to Make Their Numbers

A HubSpot marketer continues this train of thought by sharing some Kurlan & Associates numbers on salespeople. According to the Kurlan data, three-quarters of salespeople are failing to reach their targets. Only 6% are elite and doing well. Of the 74%, many could improve their performance through training; however, the bottom third are doomed because they're untrainable. Ineffective and untrainable. Now there's a lousy combination.

You'll consistently see me writing that ongoing reinforcement of technique is vital to sales success. Otherwise, the salesperson falls back into their old comfort zone--and results. So here it is again. Continuous learning is necessary. When we're looking for the real reason salespeople fail, this comes up at the top of the list.

This article then goes on to discuss a screening tool, Kurlan's OMG Assessment, and how it can be used to find coachable, trainable and effective candidates when hiring. I've taken the assessment and also used it for hiring: it is the very best screening tool I've found.

Sales is an odd field, because it's one of the few you can get into without any training whatsoever. Would we send a nurse out without training? An accountant? An engineer? Yet we'll slap a nametag on someone's shirt and push them out into traffic, expecting them to "wing it" and get the job done. Is it any surprise three-quarters of salespeople suck? They don't know what they're doing, and leadership has no commitment to their ongoing education. Surprise, surprise.

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales force developer. Did this article help you? Please Like, Share or Comment to let others know! <<