The first quarter of each new year often starts out as a struggle for sales teams to achieve their new goals. Your sales team has received a new and bigger goal, (there’s a high probability they missed last year’s goal) and now your team’s sales performance is poor or put another way; it is sick. When you ask business leaders why they will not hire someone to help improve sales performance and immunize their team from future performance issues we often hear a fear that the market work will actually hurt sales and cause sales results to get sicker.
Assuming your team’s poor sales performance to goal will get worse by hiring an outsider to help your team is like believing if you get a flu shot, you will catch the flu….it is simply not true.
As I shared in a previous post it is not just a sales training problem, a sales management problem, or a poor economy alone. It is often so much more. Before we can clearly diagnose why your sales team is experiencing poor sales performance we need to identify a squash myths your team may believe.
I was in the line at Walgreens to receive my annual flu shot and I could not help but listen as people in line shared myths that they believed to be true about the flu and the flu shot it’s self. This reminded me of the myths I have heard over the years about poor sales performance and I wanted to dispel some of the reasons people use to rationalize poor sales performance. One that always amazes is me is leaders who chose to go it alone and actually believe working on their sales process will somehow hurt their sales.
Hiring an outsider who conducts win loss analysis will add a tremendous amount of value quickly. They will interview current customers, past customers and buyers in your market you have always wanted to sell. Their mission, if they are good is to identify the buying process, buyer journey and buying criteria your buyers are using today. They will compare how buyers are buying and want to buy to your current sales process and identify what I call “spin cycles”. Spin cycles in the current sales process are places the sales stalls and basically spins instead of proceeding to the next step. Spin cycles are resolved by adding needed sales tools and or adjusting your current sales process steps.
If your team fails to stay current with how buyers are buying in your market your team risks contracting a disconnected market virus. The longer the virus runs in course through your team the more difficult it will be to cure. There are no quick pills, quick fixes, and without senior management support to cure this condition it can become terminal.
There is only one situation where conducting market win loss work can and often does hurt your sales is when you interview a buyer currently in the sales process. Buyers in the current sales process must not be interviewed until the sale is closed or lost.
How about your team….
Have you noticed an increase in price discounting over the last three months?
Has your sales close % decreased in the last 30 days?
Are 60% or more of your sales team missing sales plan goals?
Have you lost a key account (or two) in the last 120 days?
The above are some of the symptoms your sales and specifically your sales process are sick and your team has a disconnected market virus. There are no quick fixes for viruses but the best defense is a strong offence. A flu shot will expose your body to a very small sample of the flu and allow your body to build your immunities over time. Staying current with how your buyers are buying and the buying criteria they are using to make buying decisions is the best way to immunize your sales from experiencing poor sales results.
I would be remiss if I did not warn you that win loss analysis and working on your sales process will likely have some side affects;
- challenge assumptions your senior leaders believed to be true and they will become uncomfortable
- expose disconnected and dated processes
- can cause some emotional upset when you learn lost sales were not based on price
- may give your marketing team heartburn when you find 80% of the buying process is done before buyers call you and your current web site is invisible
- may make you feel ill when you learn how your salespeople believe their main responsibility is to protect the fort and not help buyers buy
The side affect will pass overtime and your team will quickly become stronger and your sales results healthier as you adjust your sales process and introduce new sales tools to help your buyers buy.