Management, Will, or Laziness??

Last week I wrote a blog around disqualifications of opportunities within your sales pipeline. Thank you for all of the great comments which sparked conversations and another blog post.  One of the conversations I wanted to address in this week’s blog was the concept of sales execution failure – is it management challenges, individual will, or pure laziness?  The conversation initiated by David Brock was a conversation around whether sales people are lazy or if it is more of a management training situation.  As we continued our LinkedIn conversation, David presented his position with a great blog on this topic: http://partnersinexcellenceblog.com/are-sales-people-inherently-lazy/. After reading David’s blog it really got me to think deeper on this topic of sales execution.  This post was initiated from David’s comments and his follow up blog.

I have run sales teams, sold enterprise software (both on-premise and SaaS) and ran a software call center. Additionally during my last five years of selling SaaS, I have interacted with many top sales and marketing individuals to find out what has made them successful.  The sales profession is difficult and while building sales teams I interviewed many sales professionals who were either did not understand what it means to be in sales or were just lazy. I say this because the candidates had not even gone onto our website or my social profiles to gain knowledge about the job, company, or myself.  When I interviewed sales professionals I did not want their resume, I went onto their social profiles – they are much more accurate of their “real self”.  While I believe organizations and leaders are not taking the time to train sales professionals properly I have also seen in many cases sales people are lazy but maybe a better word is that they do not have the WILL to execute, especially when times get tough.

So let’s begin by working backwards to the ultimate goal for a sales professional, at the end of the day their goal is a closed deal with annual recurring revenue (ARR). Organizations need to really think about what their ideal customer profile (ICP) is for their product or services.  In my experience, this is one of the biggest challenges that organizations have when trying to get deals closed (in a future blog I will go in this topic in detail). Without having the ideal customer profile there is no way that your sales professionals or marketing group know who they should be interacting with for your product or service.  Many organizations have a broad understanding of their ICP, however I would highly recommend that you dig a few layers deeper.

Let’s assume the ideal client profile has been defined, now it’s up to the management team to train the sales and marketing team on how to identify and interact with those ideal clients. Additionally your ideal client profile may change over time, so you have to ensure that you’re always testing the definition of the ideal client profile for your product or service. Finally I would say that you have to conduct pop quizzes or tests with your salespeople to make sure that they are touching base with the right organizations and the right people (with the right titles). I’ve seen people understand the ICP in the beginning and then as they start selling they may start making up their own ICP or that the defined ICP may not fit exactly with the profiles they are trying to sell to in the market.

Now let’s assume you’ve identified your ideal client profile, you’ve trained your sales team and now it’s time for them to actually execute on interactions with the ideal client profile. The reality is the connection rates on getting these interactions could be very low in the beginning especially if your salespeople are younger newer or just do not have a big network. This is where it starts getting tough for sales people and in my experience where I have seen many salespeople, with all the best intentions start giving up or being what I call “lazy”.  Let me explain why I have this perspective today.  As David Brock mentioned sales is one the toughest the professions.  Especially now in this new world of informed buyers and new buying journeys, when you think about being a sales professional you really have to think about several disciplines – including marketing, sales and service to provide exceptional customer experience. There are really good sales people that work hard except they’re only working at being a sales person and not working on the marketing or the service/support side of the equation. One example on the marketing side of the world is a current campaign I executed (a back to school campaign) for customers and net new prospects with my team. Content marketing campaigns take time, effort and coordination to make it successful. Are you willing to spend part of your Friday night to put together packages and ship from a FedEx location. We are still working on the campaign however the results so far are: six new meetings and four new opportunities.

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In conclusion if you want to be a successful salesperson in today’s sales environment then you need to think about marketing, sales and service not as silos and looking for other people to provide your leads – work as a team with your organization.  If you’re honest with yourself and you reflect on your activities – are you working the 3 disciplines?  I am curious to hear your feedback on this post I believe that less than 10-15% of sales people are actually doing this type of work on a daily basis and a very successful.
I would love to hear the success stories because I think too many times we hear the complaining or the blaming side of sales – we need more success and positive stories!

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