fighting

What Factors Make Sales People Successful?

I recently shared a Linked In comment, and in my keynote presentations and workshops discuss, a large & intense formal commercial study of selling skills, that showed only two significantly important factors determine a sales person’s success…

  1. How hard salespeople work (calls, preparation, & face-to-face time in front of a prospect or customer, no ‘brass-plating’, procrastination, or poor time-management), and…
  2. The distribution of speaking time between seller & buyer (the greater the percentage of time the buyer spends speaking, the greater the salesperson’s sales success, relative to team peers’ success).

As a throw-away I mentioned that increased average productivity across the whole team of salespeople occurs if they have access to, and understand, properly identified market segments but I probably DDN’T emphasize the point enough that If a company really understands its market segments and responds accordingly, then all the salesperson really has to do is take orders… the selling is already done before the sales meeting.

What Factors Interfere with Sales People being Successful?

Multi-national corporations, in the main, already know a about the world-wide crisis in employee engagement: With only 24% of Australian workers engaged, and with 202% productivity gains to be had from the 76% unengaged, employee engagement & organisational alignment has become TOP priority, particularly in the wake of Millennials displaying even greater need for engagement, than generations past.

An issue that doesn’t receive enough attention is that 18% of any workforce is made up of “disengaged” employees – ones that deliberately want to “sink the ship”. and THAT is seriously lose sales and detrimental to future opportunity!

If silos are known to exist, any decent leader should be tearing them down, YESTERDAY!

But how often do we hear about disconnects between Sales & Marketing teams?

I’m betting silos between research and other departments even interfere with distribution of segment identification and recognition… that information isn’t shared, synergy is lost, and sales results end up being suboptimal across hundreds of industries.

It is an easy bet for me, I have uncovered plenty of situations just like this over my consulting career, from doing marketing audits, deficiency analysis and even in competition analysis… through to ‘war-stories’ from delegates to my workshops who confess this goes on far too often.

Often the problem stems from CEO’s who are too busy with distractions… too complacent towards improving productivity, too cynical to believe that a small investment in correction will deliver a significant ROI, or just fearful that they might be “exposed” as less than 100% competent.

How Badly Do YOU think Silos Interfere with Sales People being Successful?

I’d be interested in any comments, observations, cases in hand, or thoughts readers have as to silos, sales productivity and leadership, relevant to these thoughts.

By the way, I use an approach that has helped FMCG, transport & big pharma grow corporate profits by as much as $250M p.a. that can be used to help all sorts of businesses… If you want to have a peek, check out: http://bit.ly/OpAudit

The older I get, the more I learn how much I don’t know – but also the more I recognise so-called “business experts” don’t know as well. I guess that’s fair, except at least I know how much I don’t know… others appear to “believe their own BS”.

The latest manifestation became glaringly apparent in the search for “Sticking Points in Business Growth” and “Barriers to Business Growth” where ‘money’ and ‘funding’ was patronisingly offered as a main reason. In reality, GROWTH should be easily funded, as trading history inspires lenders. (Launch, however, still is constrained by the 22nd Immutable Law of Marketing.)

Other reasons offered for growth constraints were ‘people’ and ‘market size’… Come on!!!! Surely, there are some strategic corporate thinkers out there that can distinguish between operational and strategic issues?

There is one, and one only, profound issue that hampers business growth, stifles unbridled expansion, and suffocates limitless potential… is the CEO the leadership and managerial talent that follows.

Many true veterans of business-consulting recognise this to be the core truth: When CEO’s reject a completely valid and rational business plan, when CEO’s horde decision-making, forcing operational middle management turnover rate to increases When decisions just aren’t made because the CEO won’t delegate and his in-try overflows… when money is NOT spent in growth generating areas, and, the most fatal of all… when not undertaking an idea is justified because “we’ve never needed to do this before”.

Nothing is more heart breaking for qualified practitioners of their specialised skills than when their CEO stops letting them do what they do best, and applies the brakes.

CEO’s who cant ‘let go’ inspire new appointees to keep their job search robots alive if a CEO interferes with new initiatives introducing higher sophistication levels than the firm is used to implementing: No one likes to dumb-down!

It is said that the only constant in the world is change. That business cannot stand still and must grow or wither. A CEO’s unwillingness to change with the business is frequently the key problem. Even CEO’s conscious of the need for change can fail to recognise their own inability to do so. (The most dangerous and destructive are those that SAY they move with change, but can’t.)

Hurdles that exist at key points in a business’s growth trail:
1. At $2M they must surrender their control over management decisions and accept that different decisions are not necessarily wrong ones.
2. At $5M they must recognise that future growth means complete market orientation and adoption of strategic initiatives rather than operational ones. complete autonomy of decision making delegated to the position holder responsible.
3. At $20M they must adopt corporate disciplines and formality of structure with complete detachment from all operational decision-making.
4. At $100M a CEO is the COO, and the CEO of the foundation years moves over the administrators to take Chairman and CEO mantles, mentored by major shareholders and appropriate performance incentives.

Summarily, if a CEO doesn’t change in order for the Organisation to grow, and the Organisation doesn’t change its CEO, then the Organisation cannot grow because it cannot change.