When companies attempt to improve sales they often look first to sales skills. If you've been reading this Blog for a while, you know that I believe skills are important, but only to a certain degree. The problem with putting an emphasis on developing only the skills is that without the proper combination of strengths and incentive to support the use of those skills, the skills alone don't get it done.
Given a choice between a salesperson with all the skills, but deficient in strengths and incentive, and a salesperson with great strengths and incentive, but lacking in the skills, the second salesperson will usually have greater success.
My team had its weekly sales meeting yesterday and we watched a scene from 12 O'Clock High for the 85th time. This particular scene explores the question, "what is maximum effort?" In sales, maximum effort is demonstrated by the salesperson who finds a way to get through to the prospect that can't be reached; who gets a decision from the prospect who won't make a decision; who gets the business even after it appears the business can't be had; who wins while others lose. It's the second, third, fourth and fifth efforts. It's their persistence in the face of stalls and put-offs, objections and excuses. While skills are very helpful in these moments, most salespeople don't possess enough confidence to use those skills while others, who may not have the skills, have the confidence to continue the process, even if it isn't elegant.
How many of your salespeople give maximum effort on every call, in every meeting, with every prospect, and in every sales process? How many of your salespeople have the skills but don't use what they have? How many are lacking in skills but over achieve anyway? Chronic over achievers put forth maximum effort on a consistent basis. You should be able to answer those questions and a sales force evaluation will provide the answers to the more important questions like, what it will take to grow sales, who can improve, by how much, whether they can execute your strategies, the effectiveness of sales management, who can have success selling value,and selling more consultatively, and the steps you must take to get maximum effort, more opportunities and increased revenue from all.
(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan