The Myth of More in Sales
Today, I’m writing specifically to sales leaders, though the myth of more applies to anyone in sales.
We are about to start a New Year, and I’m wondering…will your team hit this years’revenue goals or not?
If your answer is yes, congratulations! You can stop reading. No. Wait. Read on because there are lessons to be gained from understanding how damaging the“more at any cost” philosophy can be to your business.
For those of you leading teams who won’t hit this year’s goals, you already feel the pain of wondering if you are doomed to the same fate next year. You aren’t,although things might need to change!
If you’ve been keeping up with sales trends, as I’m sure you are, you know that for almost 7 years now, according to CSO Insights, half of all salespeople miss their quota goals. Even if your team performed well this year, there is no guarantee that the picture will remain as rosy next year.
With all the advances in sales training, sales performance and productivity approaches, as well as technology tools that are supposed to make revenue challenges disappear, why is the dismal lack of quota achievement still a pervasive one? One big reason is due to what I’m calling the myth of more. It is a serious problem worth talking about.
To prepare for a podcast interview I did with Jeff Koser, one of the authors of the book, Selling to Zebras, I read the book cover to cover. It is a book I highly recommend sales leaders read. From the books beginning, I was grabbed by this hard-hitting fact: “The most competitive company in an industry closes about 15 percent of its forecasted sales, and its competitors close another 15 percent. 70 percent of the prospects in an industry—the sales everybody is fighting for—will never buy from anyone.”
Let that sink in for just a moment.
Precious resources are being stretched thin to support activity after activity. Think about the time and energy drain being placed on pre-sales support, sales,marketing, management or finance. And, think about the hard dollar costs associated with all that effort.
Why are time and energy continually spent on opportunities that are NEVER going to go anywhere?
The answer is quite simple.
Most sales organizations follow an activity-driven sales approach and the thinking is that all activity is the right activity, which will lead to the right results. And when the going gets tough, as in sales objectives aren’t being met, a large majority of sales leaders subscribe to the philosophy that more activity is even better. Um. No. More isn’t necessarily better.
The battle cry goes like this… we need to get our sales back on track so…
- Prospect more.
- Make more dials.
- Send more emails.
- Network more.
- Talk to more people.
- Get more appointments.
- Deliver more demos.
- Do more proposals.
If you just do more, then the sales will follow, right? Wrong.
The problem with this approach is that energy expended chasing people who aren’t the right prospect for what your company sells isn’t going to lead to more positive results. It will result in resources being stretched to the breaking point, burnout and turnover among your sales ranks, and quota numbers continuing to go south.
A better approach is focusing on the right prospects, which includes going deeper into current customer accounts, and stop insisting that your salespeople chase anyone with a pulse. Even if you think that’s not what you are communicating to your salespeople, when you insist on more activity, invariably people will focus on any activity to satisfy your request.
Instead of chasing anyone who might be able to buy from you, your salespeople should be focusing all their attention on only pursuing your ideal prospect.
The concept of focusing on your ideal prospect profile isn’t new. It is certainly one of the core tenets of an account-based selling and marketing approach.
But here is the problem.
Even if sales and marketing team leaders have spent the time to clearly identify the characteristics of your ideal prospect, the only prospects that your salespeople should pursue, it takes real discipline and commitment to see this through. Unfortunately, the moment numbers look questionable, all reason flies out the window and the reflexive action is to fall back on activity for activities sake. The thinking is that more will solve the problem. It rarely does.
As a sales leader, what can you do?
First, acknowledge that more isn’t necessarily the answer. Pressuring your salespeople to do more of what already isn’t working,expecting that somehow the results will be different, is how Einstein defined insanity.
Second,it all begins with a commitment and the discipline to focus all your sales resources on the right prospects. Spending time with the prospects who fall outside your ideal prospect profile are simply burning time and money that can and should be invested somewhere else.
Third,resist the urge to ask salespeople to push harder and do more when numbers are off. Instead, evaluate carefully where your team members are spending time. Are they pursuing the right companies? Are they talking to the right buyers? Are they demoing to the right people? Are they booking the right sales meetings?Are they responding to the right proposals?
More isn’t the answer because it is the quality of sales activities that matter. If you are going to ask your people to do more, it should be more of the RIGHT activity; otherwise, you’ll keep spinning your wheels!