January 2, 2012

Random Sales Observations, Reflections and Rants as 2011 Rolls into 2012

One year ago I publicly announced my leap of faith and return to full-time consulting. 2011 turned out to be a fantastic year and surpassed every expectation I had for my practice. For that, and for the family, friends, clients, colleagues, followers and readers who helped make it so, I am grateful beyond description.

We were on the coast of North Carolina visiting family over Christmas and had the opportunity to  spend some time at the beach (although not in the water). Watching the kids play and the waves roll in provided good backdrop to reflect on year one of my second stint as a sales coach and consultant.


In no particular order, here are a collection of random observations, reflections and rants to ponder as 2011 rolls into 2012:

Sales is still simple. Even with all that has dramatically changed in the business world and technology-wise, the basic act of selling remains the same. Those that over-complicate it  do so out of ignorance or as a smoke-screen to cover for poor performance.

No one defaults to prospecting mode. No one.

The hybrid/blended Hunter-Farmer sales role is one of, if not the biggest, contributors to lack of success acquiring new business.

There is not enough variation in compensation between top and bottom-performers. Reps who are failing are overpaid and those who are killing it are underpaid — which results in the worst people making enough money to willingly stay around and the best feeling forced to test the market and see who might better reward their efforts. Makes no sense.

The lack of sales mentors today is frightening. There are lots of “managers,” but very few folks modeling and mentoring how to sell.

Salesforce.com is supposed to work for us, not the other way around. I see a whole lot of managers and reps that have this backwards.

Sales reps should be more concerned with their ability  to use the phone effectively or structure a winning sales call than with checking off their task list in the CRM.

People who talk down proactive (cold) calling don’t do it or won’t do it not because they don’t believe it works, but because they don’t want to do it.

The Sales Story is our most important weapon, yet most people don’t have a good one. Salespeople with a powerful, differentiating, client-centered story are way more confident and effective engaging prospects.

Too many salespeople are way too quick to talk about price with customers. And those that do boldly proclaim all the customer cares about is price!

In many mid-size companies no one is managing the sales team.

It is good when there is conflict between the sales organization and operations or between sales and finance. When there isn’t, be concerned. There are inherent dangers to the sales effort when the same person is managing sales and operations.

The best people are the first to embrace coaching and tend to get the most from it. 

If sales results are not what they should be, it is rare that the sole cause of the problem is the sales team.

Considering the number of incredible free sales blogs and relatively inexpensive books on sales, it is mind-blowing how little most salespeople read to improve their skills. The level of complacency and professional illiteracy is embarrassing.

The simple discipline of time-blocking a dedicated number of hours per week for prospecting and new business development would radically alter the trajectory of many salespeople. Most senior executives would be shocked by the very small percentage of time the majority of reps actually spend selling.

Writing a book is harder than I thought. It’s not the content. I have plenty. It is finding the time and how long it takes to flesh out the stories.

In order to maintain my current pace and client load, I must get into better shape, increase my energy levels and be out of bed by 5:30 everyday.

I have never been more excited headed into a new year. I hope you feel that way too. Here is to making 2012 The. Best. Year. Ever.