It seems we continually lose the thread when it comes to selling. Sales organizations are distracted by every new shiny object that flashes across LinkedIn. Every new idea or technology, or even some passing fad, causes sales leaders and salespeople to believe something new will make selling easier, faster, and certain.
Some time ago, salespeople were promised that by pursuing “social selling,” they would never have to make another cold call. For years after, pipelines declined.
Following Frederick Winslow Taylor approach to industrial efficiency, the brutes in Mordor sliced the role of the full-cycle salesperson into thinner, specialized roles that are and will continue to arrest the development of another generation of salespeople. You can’t use a conveyor belt to manage the sales conversation.
Sales technologies soon appeared, offering apps for everything, each one promising better results. From the CRM to video prospecting to apps that promised greater productivity and efficiency across the sales force, it seemed like every step of the sales conversation could be automated or digitized.
Automation weaponized the spray-and-pray approach that was supposed to help salespeople acquire meetings without cold outreach. Today, there is more cold outreach than ever, which makes it difficult for real salespeople to communicate with their prospective clients.
Notice that none of these approaches aim to improve the buyer’s sales experience, nor do they mention value creation or solving the client’s problems. Instead, they turn sales into a numbers game.
You Will Never Win All the Clients You Want
You never win all the clients you want, but you win all the clients that want you. No decision-maker buys from you because you are a social seller. They buy from you because they believe you can improve their results.
I don’t believe that specialization as it is practiced now is a good experience for clients, who get passed from the SDR who qualified them to an account executive, who closes the deal over a Docusign before the client is assigned to a new customer success rep. Many processes create efficiency for the sales organization with little regard for their buyers.
After a couple of decades of technological innovations, salespeople have lower win rates, lower quota attainment, and higher rates of burnout. Technology may claim it has a lot to offer, but it isn’t improving sales results. Instead, salespeople are asked to create more opportunities to help them reach their quotas. This is a poor strategy unless you believe that salespeople need more opportunities to lose.
None of these technological distractions will make buyers want to buy from you. None of them creates a preference to buy from you. The only vehicle for creating value for your prospective clients is the sales conversation. This is the variable of success or failure in sales.
Recapturing the Thread
A salesperson walks into their contact’s office or a virtual meeting alone. The prospective client hopes the salesperson can help them address their challenges, fear, and frustration. The contact hopes that the salesperson can learn what they need to know to improve their results.
None of the distractions that capture the attention of sales leaders, sales managers, and their teams are relevant. Buyers don’t care about social selling, a sales force’s structure, or a seller’s sales stack. What they care about is finding someone with the experience and knowledge to help them progress toward their goals.
Recently, several tech enthusiasts have suggested that AI will do the work of researching clients. While this may sound like a good idea, it doesn’t address the underlying problems of the sales experience from the client’s perspective. One complaint buyers have about salespeople is that they lack business acumen, fail to understand the client’s business, and are not familiar with the nature of their challenges and situation.
Decision makers disengage with salespeople who don’t have deep and useful knowledge. These prospective clients restart their search, looking for someone who cares enough to be One-Up, someone who has the knowledge and experience to create certainty for buyers and their stakeholders.
Forget Efficiency and Worry about Sales Effectiveness
You will not win more deals by being efficient. You will win more deals by increasing your sales effectiveness. I know, it’s not sexy, and it isn’t another tool you can buy and install to find instant success. But remember, the longer you go without a significant increase in effectiveness, the longer you deprive yourself of the wins you need to achieve your sales goals.
Most sales organizations and their teams struggle because they have not yet recognized how buyers have changed. Buyers are in front of this change, and sellers are falling behind. Your contacts want something different from what they wanted in the past. Ask yourself if you would buy from a salesperson who knows less than you about the challenges you are experiencing. Would you sign a contract with that person, or would you seek help from someone you trust because they are an expert and an authority on the decision you need to make?
Distractions Ruining Sales Results
Outstanding results come from focus and effectiveness. In a time with an overwhelming number of distractions, one challenge is that little out there can increase sales effectiveness. When you list your initiatives, look past the high-tech tools and make sales effectiveness your top priority. By improving the sales force’s ability to create value for your strategic targets, you will increase win rates and close the deals you need to create net new revenue.
Resist the FOMO that comes from watching people buy tools they believe will improve their results. Let them experience the disappointment when they watch you reach your goals because your team’s skills, business acumen, and strategy convince decisions makers that they don’t want to move ahead without you
There is no substitute for sales effectiveness. No tool or org chart can replace a salesperson’s ability to create a preference in the mind of a buyer. Start by providing a new methodology, sales training, a development plan, and frequent coaching with the single goal being an increase in win rates. Nothing will do more for your success and your team’s results.