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On the Road to Nowhere — Failure to Define, Support and Drive Action

Guest post Monday brings us John Doerr, president of RAIN Group, a sales training, assessment, and sales performance improvement company.  John is author of The Wall Street Journal bestseller Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade and Sell in Any Situation.

Have you ever gotten angry with someone who did something for you….but NOT the way you wanted them to do it?

Have you ever been reprimanded for doing something “the wrong way?”

“I didn’t KNOW.”

“I CAN’T READ YOUR MIND!”

“Why didn’t you TELL me?”

These sound pretty familiar, I’m sure.

Well according to ES Research, a whopping 70% of companies expect their sales force to “just know” how to sell their products and services – and sell them well — without an established standardized sales methodology and process.

Would you be surprised to know those same 70% of companies that don’t have a standard process and methodology underperform those that do by significant amounts?

Most would agree, there are right and wrong ways to do just about everything; and sales are no exception.

Process and methodology are essentially guides for behavior. They help you know when to do certain things (process) and how to do them well (methodology). It should be the very basis for any sales training program looking to increase sales efficiency.

It is important to provide a framework that salespeople can follow systematically to move prospects through the pipeline.

The power of process and methodology cannot be understated. Here’s why:

Process: A systematic series of actions, typically grouped in stages, aimed at producing a specific output.

  • Process is a guide to action. No guide, and you’re on the road to nowhere.
  • Process helps people be efficient and get more done.
  • Process prevents re-inventing the wheel.
  • Process allows for process improvement. If you can measure it you can manage it. Find the people that are succeeding and find what they’re doing to succeed, and you can help other people do the same.

Methodology: A system of strategies, principles, rules, guidelines, tools, learning approaches, language, and evaluation methods for selling.

  • Methodology provides guidelines and tools for how to do specific things in the sales process like leading sales conversations, prospecting, delivering presentations, closing, goals setting, account expansion, and so on.
  • Methodology creates a shared language that everyone in the company understands, uses, and follows.
  • Methodology helps define “what works” in various areas of the process, and provides a platform to share that across the sales force and company.

While process and methodology are the lifeblood of any sales training program, it is also important to note that sales training that gets this far, but doesn’t focus on goal setting and action planning to further guide behavior, misses a huge opportunity to boost results.

When researching one of our own books, we spoke to Dr. Jim Harter, Gallup Consulting’s Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being.

Gallup has asked over 12.5 million people, “Do I know what is expected of me at work?” Just over half answered the question, “strongly agree.” In other words, just under half are not so sure what’s expected of them at work.

Dr. Harter further told us, “Workplace performance suffers dramatically with those that answer below ‘strongly agree.'”

In other research by Dave Kurlan, a review of assessment results of 500,000 salespeople compared the top 5% versus the bottom 5%. Among the results was the following:

  • Top 5% of salespeople: 100% have written goals.
  • Bottom 5% of salespeople: 16% have written goals.

When sales training focuses on helping salespeople build (and write down!) goals for themselves, it:

  • Guides action so that action is directed towards specific, desired sales outcomes
  • Provides a shared framework for evaluation and measurement of success
  • Maximizes motivation and commitment (driver attributes), increasing the odds that the salesperson actually takes the actions to which they commit

Following goals there’s action plans.

Everyone should have an action plan.

Without clear, written goals, action plans aren’t meaningful to the individual. Without meaning, execution over the long-term weakens significantly.

When goals are in place, not only do they have the effect of maximizing action, they can also increase the salesperson’s attributes of desire and commitment, which increases their passion and motivation to succeed in sales.

Free Sales Training Success Kit

If you want sales training to succeed, don’t let it float in a process-less and methodology-less vacuum. Provide a framework that salespeople can follow systematically to move prospects through the pipeline.

Download this Free Sales Training Success Kit for other ways to ensure your next Sales Kickoff is an effective and long lasting success.

Download Now!

John Doerr draws upon an extensive career in business leadership which has included senior executive management, business development and marketing, and product and service development. He can be reached at JDoerr@raingroup.com.

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  1. Pingback: Implement Sales Practices, Not Theories | OpenView Labs

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