Improving Sales Performance–Not As Easy As You Think!

Improving Sales PerformanceImproving sales performance is often thought of as a pushbutton solution by sales training clients. We'll just buy the training, the clients believe, and everything will turn out great.

The cautionary truth is the results are often lackluster. And there's a key reason why.

So is sales training a waste of money? Is it never going to have an impact on improving sales performance?

Whenever you hear an absolute like that ("always"..."never"), trainer Jason Forrest says it's time to start digging. Are absolutes ever always true in the real world? You mean to say every single one of the prospects you spoke with came back with that same response?!

Failure In Improving Sales Performance

In his experience with sales training failures, UK trainer Jonathan Farrington notes "the habit of many individuals to treat training as a CV builder, absorbing little but the most basic understanding of what was being taught and [how] a recipe for systemic low productivity is created". This is an amazing and disturbing statement, and I want you to read it again. "A recipe for systemic low productivity". Is that what you want in your organization? Do you feel the pit of doom opening in your gut?

All the trainers I have found commenting on this critical issue agree knowledge transfer is not enough to induce behavioral change. (Your 'Forrest Alarm' should be ringing, however!) Merely stating the skills in a lecture to the sales team will not result in better sales performance. The individual salesperson must adjust their behavior. Farrington's article on The Key to Why Sales Training Fails is good, but it misses the key idea that is the major stumbling block of most sales training implementations. We'll look at this idea in a moment.

Behavioral Changes Aren't Enough for Improving Sales Performance

Marketing and sales consultant John Graham gives a list of seven such behavioral changes. But here's the problem: without a change in BELIEFS, the salesperson is unlikely to alter their behavior.

I'm talking BASIC beliefs. All the way down to "Why am I selling this widget?" and "What does money mean to me?" "What does the prospect represent to me: a foe to be overcome, or a partner to be collaborated with?" "How much cash is 'a lot of money' to me?" These beliefs and others must be brought out into the light of conscious thought and understood for each member of your sales team--and if you're the company president, you too; selling is your job and you'd better start believing it.

The Secret to Improving Sales Performance

Sales training sticks--and sales transformation happens--when the sales team changes their belief about why they are selling. It's dead easy to change your behavior when you change your beliefs. Look at dieting. I'll bet you know someone who skinnied down successfully. And I'll also bet you know someone who tried dieting, but stayed at XXXL. Why was one individual capable of losing weight while the other was not? Changes in beliefs. Our now-thin friend started believing they could be thin. That too-large portions were bad for them. That more exercise was good and necessary. Our plus-sized buddy just couldn't make the jump.

Behavioral changes are obvious and straightforward to make once you have changed your beliefs. So instead of starting with behaviors in sales training, begin with looking at your beliefs. Make these match up with the results you want, and behavioral alterations will be simple...and the results will quickly follow.

>> Jason Kanigan helps organizations that know how to competently fulfill a product or service maximize their profit. Have a question about improving sales performance? Comment below to let us know! And please Like or Share to get this info in front of someone else you know it can help! <<


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.