The sales profession is undergoing an exciting transformation, but is challenged by some pretty bad assumptions. These assumptions underlie the ongoing struggle to combat global declines in sales effectiveness.
If higher sales performance is on your to-do list, you must come to terms with these assumptions and the myths they support. Here are three to tackle first.
Hiring, firing, and voluntary turnover are a natural part of the sales industry. In some cases, turnover is beneficial. For instance, a team that releases its bottom 10% of performers every year will be stronger for it. In other cases, turnover is dangerously expensive. For instance, if the 10% leaving every year consists of your top performers, you have a problem.
In either case, decisions made on the hiring end have an impact on both performance and, ultimately, turnover. Most sales managers and executives invest significant time and resources into finding the “right” salespeople during the hiring process. This is good when it is done well.
Unfortunately, hiring the “right” people often takes the form of seeking out those with the most impressive CV, and then setting them loose to do their job. This is a mistake. It assumes that prior success in selling will automatically translate to success in selling for you.
And it’s simply not true.
Time after time, sales organizations hire “great salespeople” on the basis of a CV and a terrific interview, only to be disappointed when it comes to performance. This is bad for the organization, obviously. It’s also bad for the salesperson, whose income and CV suffers.
The problem is rooted in two truths about our sales environment: The world is changing rapidly; and different types of products and services require different types of selling. Just because a salesperson has been successful in the past doesn’t mean she or he can adapt to current conditions. And just because a salesperson was successful in one sales environment, doesn’t mean she or he will be successful in yours.
The practice of hiring salespeople and then setting them loose to do their job assumes that they will be motivated and disciplined in doing their jobs. While this may be true for a small minority of individuals, multiple studies (including this one in Current Biology) demonstrate that humans are inherently lazy.
Laziness makes sense from a biological standpoint. Why expend excess energy when it’s not necessary? Consequently, the human brain consistently seeks the path of least effort.
In a sales setting, this means that salespeople who are not held accountable to the sales process will seek shortcuts. Even those who are exceptionally dedicated will sometimes have lapses.
Nowhere is this principle more clear than in the wide practice of making - and breaking -New Year’s Resolutions. No matter how motivated, and no matter how great the reward, few people will achieve their resolutions unless they are held accountable.
This one is tied to the first one. If you assume that salespeople can sell, then you only need a CRM database for them to log what they've done and keep track of their deals in a pipeline, right? Wrong. Keeping a record of past activities will not help you significantly increase sales effectiveness. Which is why CRM user adoption rates falter and performance fails to improve.
The false assumption behind this mistake is that the CRM is a tool for salespeople. It is not.It does not provide the guidance that salespeople need and is perceived as a reporting exercise. A CRM is simply a database, with a variety of applications attached to it. It is designed to capture data and make it available for reports. It is not designed to improve salesperson performance, or to help effectively execute your sales strategy.
In reality, salespeople with good CVs can perform well for you. CRM can be a useful tool. And salespeople can be disciplined.
But all three require an informative and actionable sales process plus a centralized and integrated platform to train, coach, reinforce, and hold salespeople accountable. Membrain can serve all of these needs, either in place of your CRM, or as a plug-in to Salesforce. Schedule a demo to learn how.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.