[scroll down if you want to skip the introduction to this article]
Once upon a time, when I was much younger, I was a professional musician. I started out by taking weekly, private piano lessons for 3 years and then trumpet lessons for 9 years. In Junior High School, I had my own band and, by the time I reached high school, I was playing in two concert bands, 2 orchestras, a jazz band and my own gigging band. I continued to perform in my own bands for another 10 years. In between those lessons, bands, concerts and performances, I practiced and felt I should have practiced more. A lot more. I could have been so much better...
During those same years, I also played baseball and tennis. I took weekly, private tennis lessons on and off for about 10 years. I played in tournaments from the age of 14 until I was in college. As a freshman, I was #2 on the college tennis team. During the summer, from 1968 through 1973, I lived and worked on the tennis court, doing court maintenance, teaching, and playing with anyone and everyone, until I was as good as I was going to get. It wasn't good enough though, and I felt like I should have practiced more. A lot more.
I was not going to be a star in music or tennis. But what if I was? Would I have been finished with all of that practicing? No way. I would have hired the best coaches in the world and been practicing harder and even more frequently!
In 1985, when I founded my current sales development business, I practiced, much as I had with music and tennis, almost around the clock. What did I practice? Selling, of course. I role-played, spoke in front of any group that would listen, changed my accent (so that I could speak beyond Boston), developed my own style, and gradually developed my own content, materials, approach, model, methodology, process, clients and following. In 1989, when I founded Objective Management Group, it was more of the same.
I'm not alone. So many years of schooling and practice are required to become a medical doctor. How about all of the years of study required to become an attorney?
I'm sure that at this point in the article you recognize that it takes a tremendous amount of dedication, discipline, consistency and commitment to become truly successful in one's chosen field.
By contrast, the typical salesperson receives, on average, 3 days of sales training in their entire career. I've interviewed thousands of salespeople (the good ones who have been recommended by the Assessment and performed well on a phone interview) and most of them have never had a single day of professional sales training. And practice? I can tell you that in the past 26 years, there has not been a single client whose salespeople had been practicing the art and science of selling before I required them to start practicing.
Why aren't salespeople getting enough professional training before and during their employment?
Why aren't they getting coached the way they should?
Why aren't they practicing?
What is the current state of your sales force?
Objective Management Group has assessed more than 550,000 salespeople and the data supports my argument. 74% of all salespeople are completely ineffective and many shouldn't even be in sales. They get by for a variety of reasons, among them:
- Low Expectations from management.
- They are no worse than the other ineffective salespeople at their company.
- Some are order-takers and they take enough orders.
- Some are major account managers and the accounts were previously established.
- Some have intangibles and have simply developed strong relationships over decades of work.
- Many work for industry-leading companies - lowest price, best reputation, highest quality product, lowest risk - and they don't have to sell, as much as show up and quote.
- Some bounce from company to company never staying long enough to actually fail.
Are your underperforming salespeople getting by? Can any of them become performers? You can find out with a Sales Force Evaluation.