Take a Confident Leap into the New Year
No doubt you are anxious to bring this busy year to a close and take a well-deserved break. Before you do, give me a moment to look back with you on 2017 at the key trends outlined in CSO Insights’ 2017 World-Class Sales Practice Report.
The percentage of salespeople making quota dropped from 63 percent to 53 percent over a five-year period. Meeting sales quota is a hot top at year-end, so I reached out to a group of sales leaders to find out their thoughts on why some reps do not meet quota.
Here’s what I heard:
- Not enough qualified leads
- Lack of sales training
- No formal sales process in place
- Managers can’t effectively coach reps
- Ramping up reps is too slow
- Lost opportunities to no decision
- Competition beating us on price
- Sales burdened with admin tasks
- Sales team not properly led
- Reps assigned unrealistic quotes
- Deals not closed, but still in pipeline
- Salespeople not properly hired
There’s an endless number of reasons that sales teams do not hit their numbers. While each one above could be the cause, what’s the number one reason?
“Reps inability to provide insight into a buyer, adding value, and starting relevant conversations.”
In other words, sell their value.
Many of the sales processes used directed salespeople to lead with product and service discussions, rather than the important prospect care-abouts. If you align your sales process to the way prospects prefer to buy, then you increase your odds of making quotas.
Right People on the Bus in the Right Seats
When you arm yourself with an aligned sales process and bring insight and perspective to the prospect interaction, you automatically differentiate yourself from the pack.
However, many organizations waste time and money training salespeople who lack the inborn DNA and curiosity necessary to bring insight to prospects. If you haven’t implemented a sales rep assessment process, I strongly urge 2018 is the year to do it.
I recommend Objective Management Group’s evaluation tool, which will enable you to answer four critical questions:
- Why aren’t we more effective?
- How much more effective can we be?
- What will it take to accomplish that?
- How long will it take to accomplish that?
Sales Relationship Process
The CSO Insights study introduced us to the Sales Relationship Process (SRP) Matrix. It is a simple tool to demonstrate these factors in the chart below. Where is your organization on the matrix today?
How do your customer/clients see you? As a Solutions Consultant or maybe another Approved Vendor? How developed and consistent is your use of sales process?
Answer these questions to pinpoint which cell of the matrix your organization currently occupies.
Mapping onto the SRP Matrix presented a surprise: world-class performance is not only “the upper right-hand corner of the upper right-hand corner” of the matrix. While certainly more concentrated in the upper right, world-class performers operate at each level.
The level cycled in green is desirable, but it may not be strictly necessary. A commodities business may struggle to move beyond Solutions Consultant. Still, they can thrive by driving sales process levels. A small consultancy may succeed with random process if their clients view them as a Strategic Contributor.
However, Performance level in red is not scalable for growth. Note that while customer relationships may be constrained by your value proposition, sales process is always under your control.
What’s Ahead in 2018 and Beyond
One area in which I believe you’ll see continuous improvement is the use of artificial intelligence (and its fashionable acronym, AI).
It’s hard to think of a technology that has caused a bigger firestorm than AI. But like any technology, AI’s hype often obscures the underlying value it can deliver today and the even greater value it will deliver in the very near future. One of the most promising applications of AI is in sales training─targeting it, delivering it and simulating real-world buyer interactions.
I’ve been studying AI for the past few years. In 2018, I plan to introduce, through an affiliation, predictive analytics – business intelligence – game-based immersive evaluation and learning.
This technology will transform the management of sales onboarding from art to science. It will reduce time-to-quota and give you the analytics to know the likelihood for success of your newly hired salespeople.
You will be able to place your salespeople into a simulator, like a fighter pilot, to create real-life experiences with prospects. You will be able to measure their progress and determine the areas you need to coach, as well as the areas where additional training should take place.
Through this technology, training in a simulator will allow sales managers to evaluate the skill sets of how their salespeople perform in front of prospects instead of the usual role playing with colleagues in a classroom.
The evolution of sales promises to take an interesting turn in 2018. Fasten your seat belts and be prepare to learn and grow. In the meantime, we wish you and your family peaceful holidays and an outstanding New Year.
See you on the upside,Bill
For more information, go to www.pleinairestrategies.com
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700