Do The Simple Things First
By Andy Paul
In the hierarchy of things that you can do to improve your sales performance, there are both simple and complex solutions. Depending on your company’s particular situation, both the simple and the complex solution could provide value to your organization. They are not mutually exclusive. The question is: what should you do first?
The difficulty with sales problems is that they can be hard to diagnose and solve. There are lots of interlocking pieces to the sales puzzle, and the temptation is to assume that hard problems require complex and expensive solutions. Therefore, depending on your company’s size and resources, this could mean that your most pressing sales problem doesn’t get addressed because there is no budget or that a large investment is made to implement a new selling process and train your entire sales force how to sell to that model.
My experience has shown that a company with ample resources will typically default to the complex solution because CEOs and sales managers make the often faulty assumption that the simple solutions are already in place. A company with more limited resources will also tend to overlook the simple solutions to their sales problems because they have been conditioned to believe that the only answer to a hard problem costs money. If they search online they will find a parade of reputable sales training and consulting firms promoting selling systems that promise to fix their sales problems. But those approaches often require a substantial investment of money over a substantial period of time.
However, irrespective of company size, if management were to investigate and do a little digging they will usually find that the fundamental disciplines every company needs to flawlessly execute their sales plan, and that they believed were in place, have either faded due to management inattention or never existed to begin with. They assumed that all sales leads were promptly being followed up. They assumed that all salespeople were being responsive to their prospects and customers in zero-time with the information and answers to the questions they need to move forward in the buying process. They assumed that customers were receiving the level of unconditional support required to turn them into loyal repeat customers. They assumed that their frontline salespeople knew their products inside and out, or at least better than their customers did. Well, we all know what happens when you assume.
As with any investment, the dollars invested in new selling systems and sales training involve a certain element of risk. You can’t precisely predict the outcome although the potential payoff of improved sales productivity, over an extended period of time, can be large as well. So, imagine a company’s surprise when, after they have invested in an expensive new selling system. modified their sales model and re-trained their entire sales team, they determine that they are experiencing the same sales problems as before.
The fault doesn’t lie with the new selling system. The problem is that the company is trying to build a new sales house on a shaky foundation. The biggest return on the dollars you invest in your sales team will come from ensuring that you are mastering the fundamental sales disciplines ( and incorporating those into your daily routines. Before you embark on an upgrade program do the simple things first. Then take the next step to renovate and upgrade your sales house.
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A frequent speaker, Andy conducts workshops and consults with B2B sales teams of all sizes and shapes to teach them how to sell more by selling faster. Sign up for our monthly newsletter, “The Speed of Selling.” Enjoy what you just read? Subscribe to our blog!
© Andy Paul 2012