Never has the need to focus on the sales fundamentals been so critical. However, the challenge for many organisations is their sales teams have lost the habit of being pro-active and resilient.
The good years since 2000 have meant many sales people (and their sales managers) have forgotten how to sell in difficult times, not having a sufficiently competitive mind-set, nor their sales skills sufficiently developed to work under real pressure. Put simply, in a contracting market if you can’t take business from competitors you’re toast.
The major trap sales managers fall into in trying to uplift the performance of their teams in this context, is that the whole process seems remedial and temporary.
Remedial in the sense, we’re only having to do these things because things are difficult, and we perhaps have not been doing what we should. This negative mind-set is toxic to the process of improving performance. Sales people have to feel positive about what they are doing, their job is to motivate customers to buy, so the idea that this is something (like prospecting) they don’t really wish to be doing creates a self fulfilling prophesy of failure.
The other killer is the notion that these ways of working are temporary. ‘We will soon be able to go back to the nicer ways of the business finding us, and us then responding wonderfully well’.
The best sales teams are hungry for business, positive in approach, and see business development activity as being hard wired into their activities. Consequently they perform better in difficult times.
When you have addressed the mind-set issues you can focus on the key success drivers.
Successful selling is all about having the right activity profile, focusing on the cause and effect between what they do and the results they achieve. The quality and amounts of activity are critical to get right and the complex interdependency between the two needs to be fully understood. We all know price and volume are not optimised at the same point, well neither are the quality and quantity of sales activity.