It was a beautiful spring day and while I was walking to lunch yesterday, I was thinking about my slugglish metabolism. When I was young, I never stopped walking, running and bicycling and I probably burned more calories than I consumed. I was only 115 pounds when I graduated from high school! I'll turn 60 later this year, and other than the baseball coaching I do, and using the golf cart the few times I play golf each year, I am as close to inactive as possible. The common belief is that the metabolism slows with age, but yesterday it hit me: we slow (Okay, I slow) with age, so it's no wonder our (my) metabolism slows down! There are also some common beliefs in sales that aren't necessarily true, beliefs which, if we (it's only fair - if you) fix them, change everything. Consider these:
- Belief: Demos are excellent milestones and lead to revenue.
Reality: Demos make you feel good, add unqualified opportunities to the pipeline, which are the real reason for inaccurate forecasts.
- Belief: The faster you go, the shorter your sales cycle.
Reality: The faster you go, the more likely it is that your sales cycle will take longer and lead to a lost sale.
- Belief: When a propsect doesn't return calls and emails, it's because they aren't interested.
Reality: Today it takes 10-15 attempts to reach a prospect and when salespeople don't succeed in reaching their prospects, it's because they gave up too early.
- Belief: You need lower prices to take business away from an incumbent and win new business.
Reality: You need to differentiate, solve problems, be the value, and become irreplaceable.
- Belief: You know your salespeople better than anyone.
Reality: You know their results better than anyone. Only a sales force evaluation can explain why they get the results they get, whether or not your underachievers can be saved, and what you can do to save them.
- Belief: The 80/20 Rule applies to the sales force because 80% of your sales come from 20% of your salespeople.
Reality: You can write and/or follow any rule you want. I suggest that you adhere to my 100/0 rule, where 100% of your salespeople are overachievers.
- Belief: There aren't any good sales candidates out there right now.
Reality: The good sales candidates won't come to you right now, but if you know where to look, what to look for, how to get their attention and exercise patience, you will find good sales candidates.
- Belief: Salespeople must be good closers.
Reality: If salespeople can find and add opportunities to their pipeline, follow a milestone-centric sales process, sell consultatively and thoroughly qualify, then closing is simply a milestone, rather than an event and, in the end, an unnecessary skill set.
- Belief: Sales Training is only necessary for new salespeople.
Reality: Sales Training and coaching become more necessary as salespeople become more effective generating opportunities. The top 6% - the elite salespeople - all have sales coaches, just like the top athletes do. The bottom 74% of all salespeople? They don't believe they need sales coaching!
- Belief: Beliefs are simply opinions.
Reality: Beliefs drive and support behavior. Salespeople will always act and behave in a manner that is consistent with their beliefs, even when those beliefs do not support ideal sales outcomes. Self-Limiting sales beliefs do not support elite sales performance.
Just because you think it, does not make it normal, correct, supportive or useful. Challenge everything you believe to be true in sales and ask whether or not it really needs to be that way. Could you change your results if you changed your beliefs, expectations and thinking?