Sound Sales: Is your company a sales driven organization ... or not?
For 27 years, I have worked in professional sales – with the last 11 years spent as a consultant and trainer helping companies increase their revenue through enhancing the performance of their sales team. In 27 years, I have seen a lot of changes. However, one thing has not changed: most companies spend very little time, energy and money training or developing their sales force in the area of strategy, tactics and skills.
Frequently, the only sales training that seems to go on in companies is product related rather than skills related. As a result, too many sales forces and sales professionals depend on their products rather than their skills to make a sale or close a deal. That is a huge mistake!
The most recent employee training study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicates that the average American company spends only 3% of their annual training budget on their salespeople. The other 97% of training dollars are spent on management, technical, clerical and general labor personnel.
If viewed properly, the salespeople within a corporation have the greatest revenue impact on that corporation. Therefore, logic would dictate that organizations should spend a much greater percentage of training dollars on their sales team.
The problem starts at the top
Too many CEO’s, CFO’s, Presidents and owners of companies have the wrong attitude about their salespeople. Often, it seems they have contempt for their sales force rather than holding them in high esteem. The wrong attitude can manifest itself in the form of: limited compensation plans that are not results-oriented; policies and procedures that inhibit sales performance rather than enhance it; and bad hiring practices that support internal political goals rather than entrepreneurial sales growth. Last, but not least, reluctance or ignorance to invest in skills development to benefit their sales force.
The problem continues through the middle
All too often, sales managers were once salespeople who have now risen through the ranks. They have spent their time on the sales battlefield making a name for themselves either through excellent performance or as a “loyal team player” who will fall in line with upper management’s wishes. As a result, they have earned the right to take a step up the ladder into sales management. Neither of these reasons is the right basis to hire or promote someone as a sales manager. The fact that they have been successful as a salesperson is often irrelevant to their ability to manage salespeople. If they have been promoted because they are a loyal team player, it is likely management has restricted their authority. Therefore, they will be more concerned with political survival and status quo than making decisions and taking calculated risks, which could improve the performance of their team.
Good sales managers will embrace and lobby for ongoing sales skills development. Weak sales managers will fight and resist training. They may not have the decision-making authority to invest in outside skills training and, because they see themselves as a political liaison between the salespeople and top management, they are not inclined to firmly plant their feet on this issue. Weak sales managers will also become concerned that their value to the corporation can be minimized by using an outside training or consulting organization to improve the performance of their salespeople. In addition, they can become very concerned about growth and success within the sales organization, which cannot be directly attributed to them.
So… are you a sales driven organization or not?
If you are, it’s time to begin acting like a sales driven organization from the top of the company on down. Chances are you were hired to manage people and to manage revenue. You were not hired to be a babysitter. Nor were you hired to be a trainer in the area of strategy, tactics and skills.
In almost every profession, ongoing skills development takes place. Shouldn’t ongoing skills training also take place for sales professionals? Generally speaking, “nothing happens in a company until someone makes a sale.” Your salespeople are your ‘front line’ troops. Not only is your company’s reputation based on the image your customers and prospects have of your salespeople, but your revenue is as well.
Good strategy, tactics and skills training is not an expense, but rather it is an investment. Generally, this is an investment with a very high return. In addition to an increase in revenue, skills training typically results in shorter selling cycles and a reduction of sales force turnover.
Keywords: Sales-Driven Organization, Sales Skills, Sales Training, Sales Tactics, Sales Tips, Sales Professional Development, Sales Leadership Development, Sales Management Tips, Sound Sales, Sales Consulting, Corporate Organization, Compass Group Solutions, Mark McGlinchey
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