A brilliant film is the result of great work from a host of people contributing and pooling their talents. A great business is one that understands that it is the company’s total performance as a team that counts and not only the performance of the sales people – Presenting “The Sales Oscars”!
Here’s a true-life example of something that happens frequently: Company A was having an excellent month and placing lots of orders with Supplier B. Company A placed another order and was promised delivery the next day (Company A knew Supplier B had stock). But the next day, Supplier B failed to deliver. When Company A (now an irate customer) asked why, Supplier B said the account was on hold because Company A had exceeded its credit limit of R1-million. They said, in effect: You’ve been giving us too much business, so by way of punishment we will suspend your account without telling you or your account manager.
No function in a selling organisation is outside the sales process!
Accounts, logistics, reception, technical support, management, marketing and sales – in short, everyone has to be aligned to common goals and standards, and this usually means a culture change has to be implemented.
Sales training commonly focuses on teaching soft skills, and addresses the sales team only. That’s like trying to make a film where the actors are trained to act and everyone else is expected to know what to do. In fact, to get great sales performance you need to teach everyone in the organisation what they need to know in order to support the business objectives. For sales people, actual selling skills are only a part of the story: they need to acquire strategic skills to understand which kind of customers they must seek, and which particular ones.
Middle managers in turn need to acquire the same strategic skills so they are aiming for a common objective, and to acquire coaching and people development skills. If the managers and the sales people aren’t aligned, sales meetings deteriorate into chasing the numbers, measuring call rates and customer head-count, without addressing the deeper questions of whether the customers you have are the right kind, in the right segment, and going to give you the best return for your efforts.
Top management are typically addressed by consultants, who, at best, spend some time gathering information from the rest of the company (but they don’t always) and then present recommendations to the senior executives. This segmentation of consulting and training across the levels in the company simply does not take into account that selling is a company action, in the theatrical sense: in film and theatre the company means everyone.
Even if your managers and your sales people are in harmony, your sales performance will still be below par if creditors, delivery, receptionists, support, marketing, call centre operators or the chief executive unwittingly sabotage your sales efforts. Training for outstanding sales performance should be one course given to top management, middle management and sales, with elements of it given to the rest of the organisation.
Then perhaps you will be celebrating reaching 200% of target with your own Sales Oscars: acknowledging and rewarding Best Call Centre Operator, Best Delivery Man, Best Creditors Clerk, and Best Sales Person. And doing it all in the same ceremony, where they all belong.