Sales Leaders and Sales Managers invest in many things they believe will improve their results. Many, if not most, of these investments, are positioned as helping the salesperson be more efficient. Some technologies improve their team's efficiency, like verified contact information that eliminates the need to research. Other tools and technologies are hyped on their novelty but do little to improve the salesperson's results.
For all the investing in this new shiny object or that one, effectiveness is ignored. Maybe you believe your team can innately create value for their clients. You might also believe you hired a salesperson, and they know how to do their job. But in a time of the greatest change in buying in our lifetime, too few sales leaders and sales managers invest time and money in increasing their team's effectiveness. The best return on your time and money is investing in effectiveness.
You might have noticed that selling is a series of conversations. You might also have noticed there is a variability of results, with some salespeople having an easy time creating and winning new deals while others struggle. You might also recognize your sales team sells the same products and services, and has the same managers, types of clients, pricing, competitors, and technologies. The reason salespeople succeed where others struggle is that are more effective.
Measuring Your Team's Effectiveness
There are several ways to measure your sales force's effectiveness. The easiest metric to use is the salesperson's win rate. A salesperson with a twenty-one-percent win rate is half as effective as the salesperson who wins forty-two percent of their opportunities. Yet, many sales managers and leaders accept the low win rate. It isn't easy, and it is rarely fast, but investing time and money in developing effectiveness is the best way to improve your results.
The salesperson who, during a year, improves their win rate from twenty-one percent to forty-two percent is equivalent to adding another salesperson. Your salesperson that wins forty-two percent of their deals may need to do much better. But if they could improve their win rate by some percentage, it is all to the good, as your overall effectiveness score would improve. To look at a second metric, you can measure quota attainment. For my money, quota attainment is a measurement of sales managers and leaders. But if you want to build a model using both, I will offer no argument against doing so.
Why Invest in Effectiveness and Why Now
There are some who believe sales is sales, and nothing much has changed. But the numbers suggest otherwise. A cursory look at the state of B2B sales is certain to cause concern. The number of salespeople meeting their quota is declining. The tenure of new salespeople is also declining. Buyers complain that salespeople aren't providing the level of help they need, while also griping about the salesperson driving their own agenda.
A little over a year ago, the Wall Street Journal reported there were over seven hundred thousand sales jobs available, and the younger generations refuse to take them, even though they come with more autonomy and more money than other roles. It's worth wondering if the tenure of new, young salespeople is so low because they haven't been given the development necessary to be effective enough to succeed. One young salesperson suggested he didn't like having to ask a client a second time for a meeting. While he's afraid of the conflict of asking again, he isn't afraid of running into a burning building.
Over the last couple of months, I have heard from very large sales organizations they can't convert a first meeting to a second meeting, even after their prospective client asked for their help. Other large companies have also had to confront the disruption to their industry, eliminating any chance of reaching their goals by taking orders. Instead, they have had to improve their effectiveness to improve their results.
Underinvesting In Effectiveness
For several years, I have continued to suggest that the most important outcome sales leaders need to pursue is their team's effectiveness. We can lay some of the blame, but not all of it, on the legacy approaches that seem to repel the salesperson's contacts. This helps explain why buyers don't agree to a second meeting. Those leaders who believe in the legacy approach that worked for them and will work for their teams are discovering they are wrong. We can also blame some of this on sales leaders and managers believing that more technologies can increase efficiencies, doing more work faster. As helpful as our technology is, it makes no contribution to the salesperson's effectiveness.
In Eat Their Lunch, I outlined the need for a new perceptual lens for assessing the value of the sales conversations, nudging people to start the conversation with an executive briefing and the client's desired strategic outcomes. In Elite Sales Strategies, I provided a deeper dive into the sales conversation and exactly how to create value for your contacts while differentiating the client's experience, their company, and themselves. The only vehicle we have for creating value for the client is in the conversation.
The Perennial Imperative
You might want to theme your kickoff meeting around some new sales fashion. Maybe you want to go back to basics. Or maybe your initiative is something like, “getting everything we can from everything we've got.” But the perennial initiative is simply effectiveness in the sales conversation. Effectiveness is right for all seasons and all scenarios.
You improve effectiveness by training, developing, and coaching your sales force. The investment is measured in both time and money, two commodities you might believe you have too little of already. There is no reason to wait to make these investments, as the longer you take to improve your team's effectiveness, the longer you will go without the results you need.
It is likely you are underinvesting in effectiveness. It must be your first concern.