Product pitches – nothing dies harder than a bad idea

Product sales pitches

Product sales pitches

If you are an avid reader of sales blogs, it’s likely you will come across three or four blogs a week about the secret sauce for creating a winning product pitch.  If sales blogs had been around 25 years ago, you would have encountered even more of them because the product pitch has been around for a very long time.

Way back when, companies spent an inordinate amount of time crafting product pitches for their major product offerings.  After the pitches were created, they would charge their sales reps to rehearse them to a point of perfection.  The final step was a fish-bowl type sales training program where a sales rep would get up in front of the class and deliver the “pitch” followed by a withering critique by the rest of the class.

Fortunately that sales training experience has largely fallen by the wayside.  But the product pitch hasn’t and that’s a problem.

The problem with a product pitch is no matter how good you get at a bad idea; it’s still a bad idea. What is it about a product pitch that makes it fundamentally flawed?  Why is the notion such a bad idea?  Let’s take a look.

Why are product pitches a bad idea?

If you have had the opportunity to observe salespeople in real sales calls with real customers the answer literally pops out in front of you.  Product pitches are a bad idea because they are a monologue about product features versus a dialogue about customer value.   

Here it is important to remember that a product feature, no matter how unique or innovative, has no inherent value.  A product feature has value only when it solves a problem that matters to the customer with whom you are interacting and the customer connects the dotes between the product feature and their problem.

What’s an alternative?

If you’ve had that experience of observing sales calls, it becomes clear that many salespeople have developed the expertise to uncover and develop customer needs.  This is because a lot of companies have wisely invested in training their sales teams in the fundamental skills of asking questions and active listening (as an aside if you have not made this investment, you should immediately do so).

However, even among the sales reps who are good at asking questions and uncovering needs, the problem occurs once the needs are on the table.  That’s when their questioning and listening skills all too often are abandoned and they revert into a product monologue – the pitch.

If you are a sales manager and wish to confirm this observation, keep track on your next coaching call the amount of time your sales rep is talking versus the customer once the rep starts talking about your solution.  The percentage is usually heavily weighted toward the sales rep – say 70%.

During this monologue what is happening on the customer’s side of the table?  Not much.  Customers get lost in the narrative.  They can’t make a clear connection between the product solution and their problems.  So,  they don’t understand the total value of what the sales rep is talking about – and that’s when lack of interest starts to set in and objections begin to surface.

The alternative? Ask questions and use your active listening skills even when your present your product solution in order keep the customer engaged.  Ask whether the customer understands why a particular part of the solution is so important.  As you are discussing your solution find out if the customer understands the value of what you are talking about – if not make in course corrections. 

In summary, have a dialogue about the value of your product versus a monologue about the features  engage in a business conversation vs. delivering a product pitch.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

 

   

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Sales mastery 2015 – a horse of a different color

Sales Mastery 2015

Sales Mastery 2015

According to Bain & Company, B2B sales executives have seen tremendous disruption   in how customers buy in recent years – and they see no reason to think it won’t continue.

And if buyers change how they buy – salespeople need to change how they sell.

How well are companies meeting the challenge?  The folks at Bain surveyed 550 B2B sales executives.  The overarching finding was – “few companies are completely prepared for the changes taking place.”

There are a variety of perspectives from which to view this challenge.  Let’s focus on what it means relative to the skills of the sales team.  First, what did the survey have to say about sales skills?

  • Only 40% said their sales reps have a strong understanding of their company’s differentiation.
  • Almost one-third said the majority of their sales reps do not have the requisite skills.
  • Three-quarters have made significant investments in technology – but less than a third have realized marked improvements in sales effectiveness from those investments.

As they say – not so good.  If a company is going to among the winners in today’s disruptive market, they will not only need a sales team that is better at doing what they are doing, but one capable of doing something different.  This will require a new and different skill set – “a horse of a different color.

If one believes the “horse with a different color” message, then the question for those of us concerned about the field of sales training becomes: What are we going to do about that?  What do we think companies should do in addition to training in foundational sales skills to help sales reps adjust and adapt to the changes in the buying environment?

Is it about coming up with higher impact instructional designs for delivering the same content?  Is it coming up with more advanced models for framing the existing content?  Or is there an entirely new set of sales skills that require greater attention?  Or, perhaps we should just wait for a revolutionary technology to emerge from our colleagues in educational technology?

What to do is not so easy and there may be more then one right answer.  But one thing for sure – simply doing the same old, same old is not going to carry the day.  And of course re-labeling what we are doing and calling it new is even worse.

So how do you select the right colors?

To get the discussion going we suggest the focus should be on new content – a different set of skills then traditionally addressed in sales training programs.  What are the guideposts that could be used to determine what that new content might be?  Two make the short list.

  • Customer Expectations.  First, focus on how customers are buying in today’s market. Today what customers expect from salespeople is changing dramatically.  Customers want sales reps to be trusted advisors not product facilitators.  Customers need fresh ideas and creative insights for addressing a set of needs and opportunities that are both new and challenging. They expect sales reps to be knowledgeable about their industry, company, and issues at a higher level of proficiency than ever before.  They expect insights not product pitches.
  • World-of-work.  Second, tune into the changes in the background and expectations of the people that are becoming new sales reps in 2015 and how these people are likely to function in today’s world-of-work.

What does the horse look like?

So what might be some of the subject areas that could be incorporated into future sales training programs that would help sale reps adjust and adapt to the changing market demands?  Recently we came across an interesting article in HBR Review that explored the top 10 most important work skills in 2020.   We borrowed from the list those we thought would be particularly important for salespeople and then added a few of our own.  Let’s take a look:

  • Business Acumen.  Being able to integrate a business and economic perspective into customer interactions.
  • Adaptive Thinking.  Coming up with creative and innovative solutions that are not rule-based.
  • Computational Thinking.  Being able to translate vast amounts of data into useful information.
  • Virtual Collaboration.  Working effectively and efficiently as a member of a virtual group.
  • Transdisciplinary Competency.  Knowing how to integrate knowledge and concepts across disciplines and areas of expertise.
  • New Media Literacy.  Being able to leverage new media technologies for creating and delivering persuasive conversations.

But to borrow a phrase, these skills are “necessary, but not sufficient.”  A study by Millennial Branding and American Express, for example, reported that 61 percent of the managers surveyed felt that soft skills were more important in new hires than hard skills, or even technical skills.

The study goes on to report the soft skills most often cited as critical to success.  Although the report was focusing on professionals in general, we thought the work held merit for those concerned about doing something different in Sales.

  • Communication.  Communication moves beyond sending emails, texts, and Instagrams. Everyone inside companies must be able to effectively engage people face-to-face. Nowhere is this more critical than for salespeople who must engage a wide variety of customers across a varied set of situations.
  • Flexibility.  Flexibility provides some unique challenges for salespeople. Beyond simply being flexible about schedules and responsibilities, salespeople increasingly are being called on to marshal and leverage internal resources and to be part of – or manage – sales teams.  In today’s environment salespeople are required to play different roles at different times during the sales process.
  • Positivity.  Salespeople need to learn how to leverage praise from people for what they do and avoid overreacting to criticism and bad news. But, salespeople have a special challenge – not only do they have to work with colleagues, they also have to work with prospects and customers where it’s easy to say “yes” – but yes is not always the right answer. Salespeople must learn how to effectively say “no” or disagree or present a different view to prospects and customers and have the customer view that interaction positively.
  • Confidence.  Confidence is an underpinning of every salesperson’s success. Salespeople must learn to display confidence – it’s at the heart of building their credibility and credibility is a key for success. When someone is new to a company or new to sales, building confidence and credibility can be tough to do. One answer is leveraging your company’s capabilities and success stories until you develop your own tales of success.

If one believes the soft skill story, then a challenge emerges for sales managers.  The first part of the challenge is to recognize these capabilities are not inherent traits but learnable skills.  Second, it’s likely that many salespeople will not develop these soft skills on their own. As a matter of fact in some situations, time may actually degrade the skill.  For example, a salesperson could very easily lose confidence due to failures vs. learning from the failures as to what to do next time.

And finally … Overall when looking at what needs to be done, one thing that will not be different as the future unfolds is the importance of sales coaching.  If we want a “horse of a different color” sales coaching will be more important than ever.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

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Medical sales – there is no back to the future

MedTech Sales

MedTech Sales

Constant change has always characterized the business world – so looking in the rear view mirror has never been an ideal  strategy for determining future direction.

Yet, from time to time the scale and speed of the changes are so large and so fast that they can only be described as disruptive.  Today’s medical sales industry is a case in point.

To appreciate the scope of the change let’s travel back in time and stop a few years before Affordable Care Act.  At this junction in the journey let’s look around and make an assessment of what’s going in the industry – what are hospitals buying, who’s doing the buying and what are they willing to pay for it?  Now, quickly fast forward to today and make a comparative assessment.  There is little doubt that the differences observed could only be described by words like “disruptive” and “transformational.”

Selling in the medical sales space is not business as usual! Reimbursements have decreased, costs increases have slowed but continue, profits have shrunk and outcome-based payment models have become a new topic of conversation. Hospitals are adapting to the changes by viewing quality, patient satisfaction and new technology through a financial lens, judging value by looking at new metrics, involving new cost-concerned stakeholders, considering supply chain costs versus purchased price and entertaining consolidating vendors.

At a business level more and more doctors are becoming hospital employees, hospitals are merging with other hospitals and then merging again to form super regionals and not to be left out – insurance giants are looking to acquire other insurance giants.

Now, let’s leap to the other side of table and view this world through the eyes of a VP of Sales for any medical device company.  What does all this mean?  Should they just hunker down until the dust settles and then determine what to do or is every day, another day too late?  If they decide to do something, is it about doing something better or is it about doing something different?

Since there is no back to the future technology due to the shortages of DeLoreans, we sort of need to get this right the first time.  So let’ take a look at some ideas.

  • No new status quo.  The future will be characterized by constant change – that is the dust is not going to settle, at least not in the foreseeable future.  Initiatives to contain costs will continue to be center stage and mergers among all the various business players, including health care suppliers, will continue.  Superimposed on these changes will be significant technological innovations in health care delivery from do-it-yourself biotechnology, to a new generation of surgical robots, to telemedicine and remote healthcare via wearable devices.
  • New winners and losers.  In any industry when there is a period of disruptive change one of the likely consequences is the emergence of a new set of winners and losers.  This impacts all the players including hospitals, insurance companies and suppliers.  Let’s look at suppliers.

As the future unfolds today’s market-leaders are not guaranteed to be the ones that will remain at the head of the table.  To continue to occupy that seat requires a change in scope equal to the change on the buyer’s side of the table, which in this case is substantial.  Therefore to be among the new set of winners, companies will indeed need to do things differently versus just doing things better.  The trap will be doing too little; too late – unfortunately a common pitfall for some well-established companies.

On the sunny side of the street this same scenario can be an opportunity for new small companies that bring a better manufacturing capability and a more nimble operating approach to the market.

  • Can’t win by product alone. Historically, once a new medical device was launched, innovations were introduced over time that increased the cost.  And, all that was usually okay for both hospitals and suppliers: better product – higher cost.  However, due to the trend to control cost fewer hospitals are demanding the “latest and greatest.” Everyone involved is weighting healthcare options more carefully – seeking value at a lower cost.  In the new reality good may be good enough.

If you are not guaranteed a win by product alone because good is good enough, this means having a superior sales team is more important than ever.  A superior sales team now becomes defined as one that can bring value by the way they sell, as well as, by what they sell.  They have to be a competitive advantage and must be able to sell themselves and the company, as well as, the product. This is all easy to say but extremely difficult to do. Achieving this level of excellence has major implications not only for the sales function but also for sales training and marketing.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

 

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Sales coaching: enough talk – it’s time to get serious

Sales Management Coaching Session

Sales Coaching

Today having a superior sales team is more important than ever.  Good is no longer good enough.  Several factors are driving this need for excellence – two stand out:

  • You can’t sustain a competitive advantage by product alone.  Because of advanced manufacturing technologies and global competition even if you have a great product, the competition is likely to come out with one that is just about as good (or sometimes better), in half the time compared to yesteryear and it’s likely to be cheaper.
  • Customer expectations have changed – they expect salespeople to know more and know it at a higher level of proficiency than ever before.  Customers expect salespeople to bring fresh insights for helping them redefine their problems and imagination for assisting them create alternative solutions.

The bottom line is a superior sales team is more important than ever and it is more difficult to achieve.  Yet, how does a company effectively, efficiently, and affordably develop and sustain a high performance sales team?  Over the years we have written a lot about one obvious initiative that companies must get right as starters – sales coaching.

So what are companies doing that are getting it right?  Let’s explore two answers to that question.  First, they are adopting a model for coaching that provides the best foundation for optimizing the chances of success and secondly, they are serious about identifying and codifying the best practices for executing that model.  Let’s start by examining two different models for sales coaching – a traditional one and one that is proving to be a more viable alternative. 

  • Traditional Model.  “I’m the expert – I’ll diagnose the deficiencies and suggest what you need to improve.  You are responsible for learning what I suggest.”
  • Alternative Model.  “I’m responsible for helping you become more aware of your performance and expand your learning choices.  You are the one responsible for improving your performance.”

The alternative model is proving to be more effective because it is based on the notion that people are more likely to want to change behavior and to learn new stuff more effectively by guided self-discovery than by dictated assessment and tutorial prescription.  In addition it also clearly places the accountability for learning where it belongs – with the sales rep not the coach.

Now, let’s assume that we are into the alternative model idea.  How do you make it happen?  Given all the competing priorities, how does a dedicated sales manager implement the model in the field?  What are the best practices for getting it right?  Let’s take a look at a starter list:

  • Determine Coaching Time Available.  Figure out the maximum time you have for coaching and stick to it.  Most coaching fails not because it doesn’t work …but because it never happens.
  • Focus.  You can’t coach everyone, on everything, all at once.  So determine priorities as to whom to coach – on what.
  • Develop a Shared Goal.  Determine with the salesperson the skills that will be the focus for the coaching.
  • Set Expectations.  Set with the salesperson their responsibilities for the coaching effort.  What should they do to prepare for each and every coaching call? 
  • Select Safe Opportunities.  Determine which calls will be coaching calls.  On some calls you need to help the rep sell –fair enough.  Select other “safer” calls where you let the rep handle the call and you observe and coach post call.
  • Provide Feedback Right Away.  Don’t postpone the feedback – do it right after the call.
  • Set a Next Step.  Agree who will do what between coaching opportunities but always do something. 

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

 

 

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Best Small Business Blogs – 2015

If you missed the Best Small Business Blogs of 2015 (as culled by FitSmallBusiness.com) –  take a look. You’ll find the Sales Training Connection … along with our 2015 featured post: Sales Reps – How to Bring Value by Saying “No”. Take a read …

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Sales simulations – try one, you’ll like it

Ssales Simulation

Ssales Simulation

Historically companies have often used sales simulations as a capstone sales training program for their senior sales reps or their national account group – that is when the program is positioned as a Top Gun school.

While sales simulations certainly fit this need, thinking of sales simulations only as a training design for advanced programs is unnecessarily limiting. With state-of-the-art designs, sales simulations have become more versatile and cost effective so they now represent a viable alternative for addressing the entire spectrum of sales training needs.  Let’s review what some innovative companies are doing.

1. Some companies now are looking to sales simulations as a way to realistically combine training in sales call execution skills and sales strategy into a single sales training program.  Historically these topic areas have frequently been conducted in separate training session – one year you might do a Miller and Heiman sales strategy program and the following year SPIN Selling.  Both programs have great track records, but there are benefits to an approach where training salespeople on sales strategy and call execution skills are integrated.

First, this notion acknowledges that sales call execution and sales strategy are two intertwined activities. After all, the best sales strategy cannot succeed when poorly executed and vice versa.  Ask yourself:  How often have you delivered an excellent sales strategy program yet nothing substantial really happens?.  Reason – the ideas are never put into practice; the sales reps can’t execute them in the “real world”.

A second reason is the combined approach reflects the need to minimize time out of the field.

2. Beyond integration, sales simulations allow companies to address unique sales performance problems.  For example. let’s say you are facing the challenge of moving from selling individual products to selling an integrated solution or you are introducing a unique new product where the sales process involves new call points that have new definitions of what constitutes value.

Sales simulations allow companies to meet this challenge because they are a third answer to a classic dilemma.  In situations where the sales performance is new and unique, companies often replace their existing sales training with a “better fit” program.  The obvious downside risk to that approach is you end up replacing the existing common language with an alternative and confusion rather than improvement is the end result even thought the new program is a better fit.

Some companies employ a second option – do nothing with the hope that salespeople, on their own, will adjust their existing skill sets to the new requirements and pick up the required new skills.  The usual result is some will but the problem is many will take too long and some will never make the transition.

Sales simulations represent a third option that allows companies to help their sales teamsadjust and adapt their existing skills sets to the new buying environment, yet maintain the common sales language in which they already have invested.  This is possible because sales simulations are highly customized so they can be designed to “drag” the new real world into the classroom and because 100% of the classroom time is spent on the reps practicing and getting feedback on how to adjust and adapt their existing skill sets to the new challenges.

3. Finally, companies find sales simulations as an ideal alternative to put in place sales training programs that are “sticky.” Simply put, companies seek to decrease the amount of time it takes for sales reps to translate the principles and best practices learned in sales training programs into real performance improvement in the field.  Sales simulations are an effective answer because of their realism and relevance and because they focus on practice and feedback vs. lecture.

Highly customized sales simulations can now be designed cost effectively.  They are high impact and engaging because they drag the real world into the classroom and realism, relevance, practice and feedback are optimized. There is little doubt that guided self-discovery via customized experiential learning beats lecturing with PowerPoint decks.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

 

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Networking at conferences – tips on who, what and how

Sales Networking

Sales Networking

Sales reps often find themselves at industry conferences and other meetings where they should be networking.  However, in too many cases they fail to optimize the opportunity because they are not sure what to do.  So, by default, they end up spending their time in line to share a moment with a keynote speaker or attending yet another breakout session that is all about nothing.

So what might a sales rep do?

First, determine your purpose for networking. For example, are you seeking to make new contacts? Trying to generate new leads from existing customers? Get a feeling for what’s going on in your industry?  Promoting a new product.  You can’t be doing everything, with everybody, all at once – focus is key.

Second, think about with whom you want to network.  Not all networking interactions are equal.  In an article by Debra Averback in Careerbuilder the author noted 6 types of people you might meet when networking:

  • Wallflowers keep their head down, avoid eye contact and are uncomfortable making conversation. It’s tough to engage a Wallflower, but this is a case where some homework can pay off.  Sometimes they may not be great at conversation but are key players in their organization.
  • Dealmakers are people with an agenda. The best response is to be friendly to potential offers, but not to make a commitment on the spot.
  • Handshakers value quantity over quality. They are trying to find as many people to contact as possible and usually have a pocket full of business cards. With Handshakers, be polite but recognize it’s likely the conversation won’t go very far
  • Socialites are people seeking social meetings – looking for or offering great parties – not business meetings. If you’re looking to have a good time at the meeting, then Socialites are for you.
  • Power Networkers are high-level people who have connections and genuinely want to make a few more; they are buttoned up in how they approach networking. They seek 3-5 quality connections vs. a pocket full of business cards. Power Networkers can be a big help because their mindset is – “As I go through my day, I meet a lot of people; tell me how will I know when I’ve met a perfect referral for you?”
  • Connectors seem to know everyone and everyone seems to know them. They like to help others and they’re good people to meet at networking events. They attend because they need to, not necessarily to do any business. They’ll listen to what you do, ask intelligent questions and introduce you to others who might be helpful.

Third, once you know “why” you are networking and know “who” you want to target – think about how you might interact with the people you’re be meeting.  Do a little informal pre-call planning.

Last,  some of the time will be spent in formal sessions so what can you do to optimize that time? A colleague of ours, Scott Nelson at Medsider, shared some tips on becoming a Conference Ninja. Here’s a quick look at some points on Scott’s list.

  • Think about thoughtful questions you might ask during Q&A sessions. It’s a great way to gain 30 seconds of airtime and create a basis for subsequent networking post session.
  • Use breaks as time to meet people. Don’t just snack on the munchies or chat on your iPhone.
  • Be prepared. When you engage a target contact, know what you want to talk about.

Networking isn’t easy but it is a piece of the puzzle for sales success.  It is good to remember there is a big between talking to a whole bunch of people and a planned networking experience.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

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Getting sales coaching right – don’t do too little, too late

Sales Coaching

Sales Coaching

Sales leadership talks about it all the time.  Sales consultants advocate it and sales managers say they would like to do more of it if they had the time.  The “it” of course is sales coaching.

Yet if you nose around, you will often find less sales coaching is occurring then might be expected given all the voices of advocacy.  Why?  Well there are a number of reasons but four seem to be particularly telling:

  • Conflicting Demands. Sales managers are the key for great sales coaching but they get bogged down doing all sorts of administrative stuff.  So sales coaching gets put off until Friday and it never happens. 
  • Great Numbers. Last quarter’s numbers get tabulated and they look good.  So the impetus to get serious about sales coaching wanes.
  • Zombie Ideas. Sometimes bad ideas just won’t die.  They keep coming back to life in the corporate culture like: “We have an experienced sales team so sales coaching is not really a necessity” or “Instead of worrying about coaching we put in place some great sales training.”
  • Seduction. Sales leadership is distracted by bright shiny objects and their attention and commitment to the sales coaching effort is lost.  Without leadership, sales coaching does not happen in a pervasive fashion.

In many companies not much sales coaching is occurring but the sales team seems immobilized to do anything about it.  The question is: Does it really matter?  Is sales coaching really a big deal – must it be one of those must-do priorities?

Here, it is important to be clear – the answer is: absolutely yes.

A company cannot sustain a competitive advantage today by product and service alone; a superior sales team is required and the notion that a superior sales team can be maintained year after year without great sales managers doing a great job sales coaching is not a viable proposition.

In case you get tasked to convince others to get serious about this sales coaching message, here are five reasons why the idea is a good one:

  • Shows Leadership Commitment. It demonstrates that the top sales leadership is serious about providing support to developing the strength of the sales team.
  • Coaches Get Smarter. If sales managers increase the time they spend in the field coaching on sales calls they will get smarter about the sales team and the customer base.  They will be better able to be an effective early warning system of changes in the market and what to do about them.
  • Leverages Knowledge. Think of the cumulative knowledge possessed by sales managers in an organization.  Sales coaching provides an effective and efficient method for leveraging that knowledge to the sales team.  Worse case without sales coaching that knowledge is lost if a sales manager leaves the organization.
  • Reinforces Sales Training. The research indicates that proximately 80% of the skill-gain in a sales training program is lost in 3 months without reinforcement.  Without a doubt, sales coaching is the most effective method to reinforce the skills learned in sales training.
  • Grows the Business. A better skilled sales team is an important piece of the puzzle for generating increased revenue and optimizing profits.

So is sales coaching really necessary?  The answer is yes – lots of good things happen when you get it right and unfortunately bad things occur when you don’t.

As a note about urgency – the need to get coaching right increases as the scope, scale and speed of changes in the buying environment increase.  There appears to be little doubt that presently one can label the degree of change on all three of these dimensions as transformational.  Best advice – don’t be the one who does too little, too late.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

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Sales success trap – confusing busy with productive

Salespeople like everyone else can succumb to the temptation to stay busy. Research tells us that most people have an aversion to idleness and a bias toward taking action – especially when facing uncertainty.

The rub is it doesn’t seem to matter if the action is a productive effort or not. People just feel better “doing things.”  In an interesting HBR article, Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats reported people said they feel more productive when executing tasks than planning them – even though they knew planning usually leads to higher performance than simply diving into tasks without a predetermined course of action.

With all this in mind let’s turn to the world of Sales and examine some of the “busy traps” and some of the productive activities that are likely to fall by the way side.

  • Chasing bad business.  We have all experienced the account that despite continuous work it will not move from Stage 3 of the pipeline.  Yet it is too painful to pull the trigger – perhaps tomorrow will be the day.  Chasing bad business will certainly keep you busy but productive – not so much.
  • Confusing institutional friends and internal champions.  Developing and rehearsing internal champions is a key best practice in major account selling but it takes time; hence the potential internal champions must be selected with great care.  They must be both willing and able to help you actually pursue the business.  You can spend a lot of time with an institutional friend – nice to do, yes – busy, yes – productive, usually not.
  • Excessive attention to paperwork. Top sales reps are very good at distinguishing paperwork that can be postponed or ignored from that which needs to be a priority.  In major organization paper work can become an unbelievable time sink – talk about busy!
  • Jumping in too soon with a solution. Gino and Staats also reported that a bias towards taking action can lead to jumping in too soon with solutions before fully understanding the problem.  Sound familiar?  How many sales managers have been on sales calls with sales reps that jumped into soon and talked too much about their product before understanding the breath and depth of the customer’s problems.

The problem with “busy” is that “productive” gets postponed until Friday and then never gets done.  Here are three sales winners that often experience that fate:

  • Developing and updating the account strategies for your major accounts.

Most sales reps do not spend enough time selling and the time they do spend is not optimized from a productive perspective.  If one had a 100 person sales force and tomorrow you could get a 10% shift from busy things to productive things – what a difference a day would make.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2015 Sales Momentum, LLC

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Sales reps – don’t forget to follow-up!

Sales reps much follow up!

Sales reps much follow up!

We’ve been interviewing several MedTech sales managers this past week. One question we posed was: What do you think are the keys to a sales rep’s success? The first answer we heard was “follow-up”.  We smiled … MedTech and other B2B customers we’ve surveyed over the years have universally told us that what was most important to them in a salesperson is, “do what you said you will do” – or in other words, follow-up …  keep your promises.

It was interesting that “knowledge about their products” didn’t make the survey short list – it was expected that successful sales reps “know what they’re selling.”  Simply put, it’s the ticket to the dance.  Plus, the buyers noted that today they have a wide variety of online sources for finding out about products.

But, in the buyer’s eyes, following up is one of the fundamentals for building trust and establishing a business relationship that separates those top sales reps from the others.

As sales reps seek ways to create value for customers – it’s important to note that value is not created solely by what you’re selling.  Of course sales reps must be able to position solutions in a compelling way and talk about the value-adds the company can provide.

But salespeople can create customer value by how they sell, as well as, what they sell.  Following up is key.  It creates customer value – and sets the stage to increase the likelihood of future sales success.

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