I am often asked by business owners and leaders; “What is the best way to create sales growth that becomes repeatable and predictable?” I prefer to phrase this somewhat differently to achieve what the business leaders really want;
“How can I create real Sales Velocity?”
When I hear someone say;
I want more sales
I need more sales
How do I increase sales quickly?
What I immediately think is ; how do we create sales velocity for this team? In this post I will share one way to insure you build a foundation for achieving and often surpassing your sales goals by creating Servant Salespeople .
So what is “sales velocity”? In a previous post I said;
Sales Velocity is Sales Acceleration, with Direction and creates Momentum.
Sales velocity is not just “more sales”. When you ask your team to “go get more sales”, or my favorite with regards to hitting their sales growth goals; “just make it happen” you are in essence saying any sale is a good sale. We all know this is not true, but what will happen is sales will take a shotgun approach to the market and often bring in business you may not want and worse yet may not be able to execute effectively and create brand damaged buyers. In addition to often permanently damaging your brand in the marketplace you also run the risk of turning your salespeople into “snake oil salesmen” and they will make all kinds of promises your product or service was never meant to do. If left unchecked you will receive crazy orders you never should have received from customers you will never extend credit to and your team will jump through costly hoops to try to fulfill them.
When I used to conduct sales and marketing seminars, I would share the worst kind of business to win is one order. Once you win that “one order” you now have the liability of servicing it, hearing customer complaints (often now through social media), and sales assumes the position you want more orders like this.
I was in church last Sunday at Grace United Methodist Church and Pastor Don was talking about how it’s not enough to be a “street legal Christian”. Don does a great job of telling stories that have analogies to help people understand the message. In this message he shared how he and a buddy when they were 16 years old had this old beater of a car. He shared how the steering wheel had about 90 degrees of play in it and how the floorboards were all rusted out and you could see the pavement while driving. They had a rear brake light broken out so they covered it with cellophane and used red paint to make it look and somewhat work like a brake light. The car had all kinds of issues but technically it was “street legal”. The car met the basic requirements to be on the road, but really should not have been driven as it was an accident waiting to happen.
Don later pulled this analogy full circle and shared how Jesus taught us we are not to just be street legal Christians that go to church, maybe read a bible once in a while and go through the motions. As I drove home it dawned on me I have seen this many times over the past 30 years in leading sales turnarounds with “street legal salespeople” too. They have the title of sales and they go through the motions of sales but really do not have the heart to serve their clients and solve their customer’s problems.
What is a Street Legal Salesperson you might ask?
Received some basic product training.
They have some understanding of how to reach buyers.
They want to hit their sales goals and corresponding commission checks.
They often have some bad sales habits.
They come close to hitting their sales goal each year, not terrible but not sales super stars.
They try hard.
They are often commission junkies. (not their fault by the way)
At or below the acceptable targeted profit margin for your product or service.
Have problem customers, who complain, pay late or not at all.
When you hear them on the phone with a customer you cringe, but if it works… ah what the heck…
They go through the motion of sales…
The role of sales has evolved over the last 30 years from my perspective. At one time the salesperson was the keeper of the information keys. They did not need to be as good at listening and understanding customer needs as they needed to be aggressive and persistent and know their product inside and out. The salesperson had all the product information and used their sales product binders to answer questions as they arose. They worked hard on relationship selling. Back in the day we taught salespeople the objections buyers would probably make and how to overcome objections.
Next we saw sales consultants/ consultative selling emerge as product experts who would help buyers understand how their product or service might solve the buyers’ problems. In essence they were sales translators who translated what their products did in a language buyers understood once they found a problem they can solve.
Then the internet shifted the power from the salesperson to the buyer. The buyer now can Google almost anything and now has access to the product information keys. We have seen social selling emerge as buyers investigate products and their salespeople with tools like LinkedIn, blogs, online case studies and industry group forums where they openly share poor buying experiences. Buyers are connecting with companies who are seen as thought leaders and they make it their quest to understand buyer problems, criteria and buying processes.
I believe the next sales person emerging is the Servant Salesperson.
What are the characteristics of Servant Salespeople?
They understand the various buyer personas in their market.
They understand why buyers buy and how buyers buy.
They understand the buying process and criteria buyers use to buy.
They are constantly sensing their market for any changes in how buyers buy.
They listen for problems buyers’ share that can be solved by their product or service.
They have a continuous improvement approach to both product and sales training.
They do online research prior to reaching out to a potential customer.
They have large social networks with many customer referrals praising their service.
They ask open ended questions to understand buyer problems.
They seek first to serve and believe if they solve customer problems income will follow.
The days of snake oil salesmen promising their products and services do whatever the buyer needs is over. Buyers are seeking authentic sales servants who seek to win their business by completely solving their problems,providing the best total buying experience, and salespeople who help them buy. Buyers today see a commission junkie coming from a mile away. Aggressive salespeople are blocked and filtered with email, voice mail and gate keepers. Buyers are looking for salespeople who are focused on serving them.
What stage of selling is your sales team in today?
Would a “servant salesperson” be welcome in your organization? Why or why not?
Why wouldn’t a buyer in your industry welcome a “servant salesperson”?
Just as we are not designed to be “street legal Christians” buyers today do not want “street legal salespeople” who go through the motions of trying to solve the buyers problems.
Servant Salespeople create sales velocity because they authentically seek to solve buyer problems.