Can Salespeople Really Double Their Revenue by Solving This One Challenge?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 27, 2015 @ 23:10 PM

I've written about our son around 30 times over the past 10 years and in those articles where I mentioned sports, the sport was always baseball. For the last three years, his fall sport has been cross-country and in the past two months he has won 6 meets. This year, he transitioned from participating in to winning his events.

While there are several sales analogies I could point to for this turn of events, there is one in particular that is crucial if your company sells more than one product or service.

Over the years, one of the common frustrations that executives have shared with me is that so many of their salespeople - even their good ones - were one dimensional.  They sell only one product or product line out of many. They sell to only one type of account. They thrive in only one vertical. They excel with only one particular level of decision maker. And the rhetoric is always similar too. "If these salespeople could just go from being good at one thing, to being good at two things, then we would double revenue!" So maybe they wouldn't double revenue, but certainly they could achieve a sizable increase.

Why is it so difficult for salespeople to go from master of one discipline to master of multiple disciplines?

They get comfortable.

Here's another analogy. Restaurants. You wouldn't go to an Italian Restaurant to order a burger, any more than you would go to a Chinese Restaurant and order shepherd's pie. And if you have some favorite restaurants, you probably don't vary much from the dish you always order there because it's what you like that they make so well.

We get comfortable.

So what caused our son to suddenly perform so well in cross-country? He loves to win even more than he likes competition. And when he sensed that he could actually succeed, he committed.

How do you accomplish the same thing with salespeople?

There are five things you can do:

  1. Stop complaining about it and make it a requirement for continued employment.
  2. Support the change by helping them get some early wins.
  3. Learn why the alternative sales target is so difficult or scary and coach to overcome the barriers.
  4. Offer them better direction and guidance on their approach, positioning, questioning and tactics.
  5. Raise your own expectations and those of your salespeople.

Over at Top Sales Magazine, there is a brand new look and they have gone to a larger, monthly magazine. I have a feature article about Mastery of Sales on page 16 of the November issue and you can download it here.

And speaking of competition, the SellingPower Blog has a terrific article about how Motivation is not usually the problem when it appears that salespeople aren't motivated! 

Finally, join me today (October 28, 2015) at 11 AM ET for a discussion on the role of Benchmarking and the Perfect Fit Analysis when it comes to effective Sales Selection.  Register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Accountability, how to increase revenue, Baseball, sales increase, cross country

Top 10 Problems with Veteran Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 @ 11:01 AM

red sox 100th anniversaryred sox 100th anniversaryyaz, fisk and rice

This past summer, the Boston Red Sox celebrated their 100th Anniversary.  Every living player and manager who wore the uniform was invited and many came to participate.  Those veterans included National Baseball Hall of Fame members Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski.  The veterans are loved and cherished by the fan base.  Their appearances provided opportunities to coach current players.  It helped grow the business of Red Sox baseball.

For companies who want to grow revenue, veteran salespeople cause more problems than any other factor.  After all, if you have a young, energetic group, there's nowhere to go but up and everyone knows that they need to improve.  On the other hand, veteran salespeople believe that they know everything and everyone and probably could lead the sales training class.  But their arrogance, defiance and inflated sense of accomplishment aren't really the problem.  The real problem is that the CEO's, Presidents, Owners, Sales VP's, Sales Directors and Sales Managers to whom these veteran salespeople report are simply afraid of them.  Here are the top 10 things which I've heard about veteran salespeople in the past 27 years of sales development consulting and training:

  1. I don't want to upset the apple cart.
  2. If they don't buy in, then nobody will.
  3. They are too set in their ways - nobody can get through to them.
  4. I'll be wasting my money on them.
  5. If we make them participate, they'll quit and take their customers with them.
  6. They'll give you trouble - it won't be worth it for you.
  7. They're complacent - I don't know what to do with them.
  8. You'll never get them to find new business.
  9. They're holding us back - no question - but I can't do anything about it.
  10. They're holding me hostage - I have no options.

I'm not saying that these issues don't exist.  I'm saying that you can't raise expectations, grow revenue, increase profits, improve morale and sustain it if you don't address these issues.  Most executives (who've grown their companies to a profitable, respectable level)  simply don't have the appetite to face this problem head on.

The reality is that the right sales development specialist can turn a group of veteran salespeople around on a dime.  Sure, it's not without some initial griping, but it happens much more easily and quickly than if the executives tried to accomplish it on their own.

The Sales Force evaluation process gets the ball rolling (as surprising as the results may be to some veteran salespeople).  Through that process, veteran salespeople develop, perhaps for the first time ever, an awareness of what their true, sales skills gaps are and how much that's costing them.  They don't have to agree with everything, but they finally get the sense that they don't know it all.  They may not like it, but you didn't have to tell them.  They may be angry, but they're really angry with themselves or us this time, not you.

When sales management has been trained and coached to provide meaningful, business-generating coaching (rather than technical, pricing or sales support), they begin getting more value out of sales management.

Then the formal sales process is introduced.  That's when they realize that until that very day, they'd never actually been selling.  Instead, they realize that what they'd been doing all this time was presenting, conducting demos, acting as product experts, writing proposals, sending quotes and chasing decisions with mixed results.  They also realize just how much selling has changed, not just since they started in the 60's, 70's or 80's, but even in the past 5 years!

Somewhere betwen the sales process introduction and 4 follow-up sessions later, the light bulb turns on and they get it, embrace it and buy into it hook, line and sinker.  Then 10 things begin to occur as they:

  • Enjoy selling again, 
  • Successfully turn around prospects who weren't interested, 
  • Add more new opportunities to the pipeline than ever before,
  • Have more productive sales calls, 
  • Stop wasting time on unqualified opportunities, 
  • Shorten their sales cycle,
  • Improve their closing percentage,
  • Increase sales,
  • Increase margins and
  • Increase their income.
What about you?  Do you need your veteran salespeople to step it up, but can't get them to do so?   Are they setting bad examples for the rest of your sales force?  Are they holding you hostage?  Is the tail wagging the dog?  Are they finding every excuse in the book to not seek new business?  Are they being paid too much for the existing business which they're managing?
You're not alone or without sympathy.  But sympathy, hope and time won't solve the problem unless you wait until they retire or die (and with your luck, they'll outlast you!)  You'll need to take some action now if you want change in 2013.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales consulting, how to increase revenue, sales assessments, objective management group

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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