"That wasn't what I expected!"
You might say that after reading an awesome book, waiting for months and years in anticipation of the movie version, only to be extremely disappointed when the much hyped film failed to live up to what you remembered feeling when turning the pages.
You might also feel let down after leaving a great, but expensive restaurant, but the meal, service or ambiance was quite different from what you had imagined when you heard about the business.
And from experience, I can tell you that once in a blue moon, after we evaluate a sales force and present our findings, a rare CEO can become defensive and react poorly to the results. When it happens, it's usually a sign that the CEO is out of touch with the sales force. I'll share some of the things to which they sometimes react badly:
The top 5 findings that a CEO might react poorly to are:
- An executive sales leader appears to be weak on OMG's Sales Leadership Evaluation. The CEO might say, "Well, the only reason we landed that multi-million dollar contract with that billion dollar company is because of Bob. He sold it himself. So how do you explain that?"
The CEO didn't recognize that the company took a great major account salesperson, place him in the Sales VP role, and instead of leading the sales force and functioning as a Sales VP should, he still wants to be the rainmaker and the star of the show. That definitely makes him a weak Sales VP!
- The entire sales team is weak. The CEO might say, "Then how do you explain our double digit growth over the last 5 years?"
The CEO doesn't recognize that the company's success has more to do with great marketing and desirable products than the salespeople who represent them because their salespeople just plain suck! This is an example of Mediocrity winning out over excellence. If the company grew at double digit rates with this group, then they would be growing by leaps and bounds with stronger salespeople!
- The salespeople have issues around the Will to Sell. Many of the salespeople lack the kind of commitment to sales success that is required to get to the next level. The CEO might say, "I can't understand how that can possibly be and I certainly don't know how to fix it."
The problem is that the company was hiring the wrong salespeople, focusing on technical skills instead of sales core competencies and in doing so, created a culture of complacency.
- With the proper training and coaching, the existing sales force can generate 75% more revenue but it will take 24 months. The CEO might say, "That's a considerable increase. I don't believe that's possible. Why is it so large and why will it take so long?"
The problem is that the existing sales force is so weak that they are leaving letting large numbers of opportunities slip through their fingers without any ability to capture it. It will take 24 months because the gaps are so wide and deep and there is a lengthy sales cycle.
- Some of the top account managers evaluated as weak salespeople. The CEO might say, "They are the top 3 salespeople so they can't be that weak!"
The problem is that those 3 account managers manage more revenue than anyone else and they're extremely important to your success. However, they aren't your top 3 salespeople and we can prove it. If you took their existing accounts away - which they probably inherited and didn't close themselves - and asked them to build a pipeline, close some new accounts and generate new business, they would fail in dramatic fashion.
Our eyes can be wide open yet still fail to see what we don't want to see. When expectations aren't met it causes the three D's - discomfort, disappointment and disaster. Sometimes you can't see the reality of your own sales force until you have the actual data and use it to look at your people, systems, processes and strategies through a different lens. Companies that fight the data don't change. Companies that are afraid of the data remain clueless. And companies that embrace the data grow by leaps and bounds.
The sales force evaluation is the most important and powerful thing you can implement at your company. It leads to better decisions, changes based on science instead of hunches, and improvements based on necessity instead of opportunity.