I had two conversations that were in stark contrast to one another.
The first was with an executive who told me that the company must have their salespeople selling more consultatively to better differentiate themselves in the global market, so they began training on SPIN selling - a year ago. I told him that was a good start and wondered if they experienced the same thing as most companies that train on SPIN selling - it is a great questioning strategy but their salespeople simply can't apply it or execute it.
[Note - SPIN is a questioning strategy developed by Neil Rackham but it is not a sales process. If you are familiar with my Baseline Selling sales process and book by the same name, SPIN would take place between 1st and 2nd Base.]
Back to the story...This executive said that their salespeople aren't able to demonstrate any more competance than they were a year ago but he didn't want to upset anybody, anything, any apple carts, any vendors, any salespeople, etc. He believed he had all the answers despite his own evidence pointing to the contrary. I mentioned that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth and he even agreed with that! He was simply too invested in maintaining the status quo and keeping the peace to change anything. A powerful, consistent formula - for failure.
You may have read my article from earlier this week when I described 10 CEO's and the Impact They Have on Their Sales Forces. The executive above was a combination of #1 and #9.
My second conversation was with an effective CEO who is completely unlike those that I described in the other article. My good CEO has the following 10 qualities that have a positive impact on the sales force:
- He asks questions and listens when he doesn't have the answers;
- He has very little patience for incompetence;
- He holds people accountable;
- He lets people know where they stand;
- He demands the best from everyone;
- He leads the way and drives change;
- He sets clear expectations and has consequences for failure;
- He isn't afraid to terminate anyone;
- He is very decisive;
- He knows that revenue is King.
He has many more good qualities but these ten stand in contrast to the ten I wrote about in the previous article.
If you lead a company or a sales organization, which leader would you like to emulate?