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    CEO: What you need to know about why your sales department is screwing up

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    I hate to be doom and gloom, but many sales departments are failing to perform. Year after year after year the data coming out of organizations like CSO Insights shows decreasing sales effectiveness on nearly every measure in nearly every industry.

    No CEO in their right mind would accept, from any other department, the kind of inconsistent, insufficient performance that so many sales teams demonstrate. Yet we keep putting up with it.

    It’s time to stop. Here’s what you need to know about why your sales department is screwing up… and what to do about it.

    The bad news is that it’s your fault

    Unless your sales organization is one of the rare exceptions, odds are that you’ve been accepting dismal performance from it for a very long time. You hire expensive sales VPs and directors and expect them to fix it, but they don’t. You invest in expensive technology and hope for the best, and still, forecasts are missed and quotas fail.

    You see hiring and firing and new goals that are missed. You rail against the sales department, they rail against the market and the poor tools at their disposal.

    But the reality is that it’s actually your fault. You’re focusing on the wrong things and accepting less than your organization deserves.

    You’re buying the wrong car for the wrong reasons

    Think back to the last time you bought a car. Was it a top of the line luxury vehicle? Maybe it has heated seats and a heated steering wheel. Fingerprint entry and keyless ignition. Maybe the driver’s seat provides a relaxing massage while you listen to your favorite tunes on the high-end sound system, resting securely in the knowledge that your vehicle is equipped with the latest in safety innovations should anything go wrong.

    Stop assuming and start performing! 
    George Brontén

    Now consider the same car, but imagine it with a 1970s Pinto engine installed. Replace its high-performance tires with wooden wagon wheels.

    Is it the same car? From the inside, sitting idle with the engine off, it feels the same. But as soon as you take it out for a drive, the experience is entirely wrong. It’s loud and cranky and jolting, and the performance is crap.

    Would you buy that car?

    Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing with your sales department.

    Back to the basics isn’t just a hippy mantra

    Often in our quest for better sales performance, we invest in bells and whistles while ignoring the basics. We hire “heavy-hitting” salespeople CVs and “high-performing” sales directors. We equip them with the "#1 CRM", email automation software, call recording technology and outfit our CRMs with “artificial intelligence”. We invest in automation and throw money at sales training.

    These can all be useful aspects of a well functioning sales organization, but if the engine and the tires are bad, you’re still going to have a bad ride.

    In sales, the basics are: Strategy. Process. Execution.

    The strategy is like the vehicle’s design. A great design is one that is created with its user and its uses in mind. It takes into account how the driver will behave, what’s important to them, the conditions they will encounter, and what innovations might make their experience better.

    Likewise, a great sales strategy is one that is created with the customer in mind. How they will behave, what’s important to them, the conditions and obstacles they will encounter, and what innovations might make their experience better.

    Of course, design without execution is just pretty pictures on paper. A solid, integrated process is necessary to bridge the gap between the concept and the reality. In cars, that means building a production line and all the standards and specifications that ensure it produces the car as designed.

    In sales, that means implementing process and methodology that makes it possible to execute on the strategy, and then implementing them in the sales team’s daily lives in meaningful ways, while holding everyone in the organization accountable to execution best practices. “Simple” things must be done right, like focusing on business value from the initial conversation, identifying and engaging all the right stakeholders, understanding the customer’s "why" before sending out proposals left and right.

    Yet, far too often, these execution best practices are simply not followed.
    It is just assumed that all sales leaders and salespeople do these things well.
    It's time to stop assuming and start performing!

    Of course, we think Membrain is the perfect tool for better executing on strategy, and I’d love to show you how it works. Also, for help getting back to these critical basics, we’d love to connect you with one of our partner organizations. Some partners have worked with us to create tailored Membrain Editions, with their best-practices built-in. By picking one of these, you will get a jump start!

    George Brontén
    Published September 12, 2018
    By George Brontén

    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.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn