Improve Sales; How do you improve sick sales before they become terminal? Not a sales training issue


It’s that time of year again…sales teams have received their new sales goals and often the results are sick and not close to plan. This time of year in particular, sick sales is an epidemic. Everything was going along well and then all of the sudden it hits you like the flu and your sales become sick. Sales are not hitting plan and worst of all not producing the planned return on investments made to support your new sales goals. How do you improve sick sales before they become terminal? That is what I plan to discuss in my next series of posts. But before we can improve your sales, we need to quash some myths that many leaders believe to be true about improving sick sales.

I went to Walgreens recently to get my annual flu shot. I interact  so many people in meetings, airplane flights and trainings I am pretty much guaranteed to bump into someone with the flu each year so I always get the flu shot. As I waited in line I heard others asking each other questions about the flu and it gave me pause. So when it was my turn to be a pin cushion I asked the pharmacist some questions about the myths I just heard in line. I thought I would be much better off getting advice from an expert than listening to the people in line sharing the myths they have heard, believe to be true, and are now sharing with others. It was no surprise to learn everything that was shared in line was not true and this reminded me of how companies also can experience the flu , particularly early each year when the new sales goals are distributed, and like those people in line they too may believe some myths they have heard over the years.

The biggest misperception about the flu is that it can be treated with antibiotics. The fundamental mistake most people make is self diagnosing symptoms as a cold and not the flu. They believe they can pop a quick pill or a series of pills and cure the symptoms. The flu is a virus and antibiotics do not cure the flu. They believe having a national sales meetings and my favorite; “sales training” to cure their sick sales results will make their poor performance go away. Fixing and improving sales not a “how–to “problem. In the Rain Group report they found 90% of sales training initiatives have no lasting impact after 120 days. In addition companies believe they are providing “sales training” but what they are actually doing is “product training”. Product training is not sales training.

What are some symptoms your sales has the flu?

  • new product sales missing plan by 30% or more
  • key sales performers leaving after last year’s bonus’s are paid
  • gross profit decrease of 3% or greater in the last 30 days
  • loss of a key account
  • 40% or more of your sales team missing sales goals
  • Your competitor launched a new product that took the market by storm

If your sales have the flu or you wish to prevent your sales from catching the flu, the first place to start is to clearly understand your market, buyers, and their buying process. Like the flu shot this process that often entails win-loss interviews with customers, past customers, and potential customers takes some time to work. This is the best way to immunize your sales team from experiencing sick sales. If you fail to understand your market, your buyers and more importantly how your product is positioned to solve buyer problems you are forcing your sales people to assume the position with buyers and this leads to sick sales performance.

Is your team experiencing sick sales performance this year?

Have you decided to have a national meeting?

Does your team experience a sales flu early each year?

Are you planning “sales training” to improve sales performance?

Trying to mprove sales performance without clearly understanding your market is like taking an antibiotic to make the flu go away… it does not work. You may mentally and emotionally  feel you are taking the appropriate action but the sick sales symptoms will linger and often make your entire team miserable much longer than they need to.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Mark, I like your thoughts and presentation. The one thing that always seems to be missing if for Sales Managers and Business Owners to start looking at themselves, and saying what am I doing that may be de-motivating to the sales people. Having the wrong people on the bus is always a problem. However, we have to first look at ourselves and say what can we do better, or improve how they are reacting to us as Managers and Leaders.

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