We are at the half way point of your sales plan. How is your team doing to plan? I have heard statistics that state 70% of salespeople will miss their sales plans this year. Why? Can your team afford to let this happen?…I did not think so. In this post I am challenging you, right here in the privacy of your computer. If this post pertains to you and you are a driven, dominant type leader that is so focused on the vision you believe to be true, (that may have actually been true 10 years ago) this post is going to make you feel uncomfortable. If you are market leader it will reinforce the importance of why you must wake up each day humble seeking current market truth and create a culture where it’s safe to tell you what your asking the team to do or say is nuts.
One of the reasons sales plans fail to create sales velocity is “Politically Incorrect Market Secrets” salespeople are afraid to share with you. Trust me, every business, (even yours) can do better. In the dynamic markets we serve today changes are occurring every day and sales teams that have a culture where it’s safe to share current truths, are agile, and they adapt and thrive. Sales teams with culture built in the shadow of a dominant leader(s) that lack the emotional intelligence to consider their vision may be wrong or dated fail. They fail because one of the key components of having an agile sales process is “stand up meetings”. The value of this process is shut down before it begins when your team is only sharing the politically correct answers and not what is really occurring. It’s that simple.
The role of sales is a tough job. Each day you will be rejected more than accepted and you need the internal strength to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and make another sales call. However when that fear of rejection is both external in the market and internal within your own team, sales people shut down. They stop looking, listening, sensing and communicating shifts in how their buyers are buying. They stop sharing customer complaints and problems and what they need to achieve their sales goals. When salespeople feel it is internally politically incorrect to share real current market secrets…you have already lost.
In a recent blog post that listed 10 reasons why great business plans fail to deliver the top reason was the plan itself was not a good plan. How can this be? You are smart enough…your did your three day get a way of strategic planning…you did not get to the position of senior management by creating plans that do not work. If your culture is one of Hippo’s (highest paid people in the room) leading by intimidation and making it very clear to you sales team what the “right” answers are before the questions are asked…you will fail to achieve your sales plan. As this post goes on to share; great plans count on a deep understanding of your customer’s needs and problems and not gut instinct and the tribal knowledge of your senior management team. I addressed this common problem in a blog post years ago titled; Attention leaders: Don’t look now but your lack of market knowledge is showing…
In another post in the Harvard Business Review discussing “40 ways to crash a new product launch” the number one reason why your new product launch will fail, and sales will miss the sales plan is; no market research was done. Why? I believe smart people make good decisions and can shape market leading strategies with current unfiltered market data. If your team does not feel it is safe to share current data, you have a big problem.
How can you quickly tell if your sales team has tuned out?
- Do your salespeople openly share shifts in how buyers are buying on a frequent basis?
- Do your salespeople share buying experience problems your customers are having?
- Is it “safe” in your organization to be a Heretic?
- Have you asked a question and the room full of typically vocal salespeople and everyone becomes silent?
- Do your salespeople communicate ways your buyers are asking for new and improved service?
- Are salespeople who share “politically incorrect market secrets” welcomed or chastised in your sales meetings?
If you can not say yes to the above five questions, I promise you a number of your salespeople are going through the motions. If you can not say yes to any of the above questions you have a BIG problem. If you honestly can not say yes to all of the above your salespeople have already shut down and like a robots are showing up and throwing up in front of customers what they hear from you and not listening to your customers. They have lost all accountability for their sales goals because you have emotionally beaten it out of them. Mentally they are saying; “screw it, nobody wants to here the truth, if I share the truth I am criticized in front of my peers and may risk my job security so I will do it ____’s way, I might not hit my goal but at least I will have a job”…and you have lost them. Is that who you want?…salespeople going through the motions or do you want and need sales super stars?
Ya, that’s what I thought….
The good news is you can change and adjust. The reality is there was a time you were tuned in to your market, your buyers, how your buyers bought and the criteria they used to make buying decisions. You did not achieve a senior leadership position based on luck but on hard work and achieving results. Let’s rekindle that spark that propelled your career and let’s position you to lead your team and blow your sales goals out of the water. Are you in? If so the quickest two ways I have used to help senior leaders clearly understand the markets they serve is booking what I call four legged sales calls. On these calls, working in the field with your salespeople your main goal is to seek to understand. You are to be a sponge listening and asking open ended questions. The second is from this day forward creating a sales culture that keeps and attracts sales super stars.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell sales leadership is not a proven method to achieve profitable sales growth.”
– Mark Allen Roberts
Are you a salesperson who feels it’s unsafe to share the truth? If so please comment…
Are you a leader who feels I am totally wrong and your team is to do what you tell them to do?…bring it, share your thoughts…
Do you have sales meetings where its very obvious politically incorrect market secrets are not safe to share?
Are you a sales performance consultant or a sales coach and you have seen this problem? Please share how you have helped the leader and team create a culture where it was safe to share market secrets.
As the leader what do you really want more? to win and achieve your objectives?…or have a team of robots scared to share market truths and fail? …
When I find myself personally struggling with this, I am reminded of Proverbs 16 and how we are instructed; Pride comes before destruction.