Did you happen to see the movie Gravity?
Early in the movie, the two astronauts, played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, lose communications with Houston. From that point on, they don't stop talking to Houston, they don't stop reporting in and they don't change protocol. What they do change, is they add a phrase to the beginning of each message, "Houston, in the dark..."
They are moving blindly, without direction, without feedback, without certainty. They are in the dark. That's exactly how most salespeople go through each day, through each sales call and meeting, and through each sales cycle. They are in the dark.
It's most obvious when salespeople don't know:
- The compelling reasons why their prospects would spend their money on what they are selling;
- The compelling reasons why their prospect would move their business to them;
- Who they are competing against;
- Where they stand versus their competition;
- If their prospect can afford what they are proposing;
- If their prospect will pay their higher prices;
- Who the decision maker is;
- Why they can't meet the decision maker;
- The timeline;
- Whether or not they will get the business.
The thing is, even though these salespeople are in the dark (like the astronauts in Gravity), unlike the astronauts, they don't need to be in the dark. They can get feedback, they can ask questions, they can get answers, they know that their version of Houston - their prospect or customer - can hear them and will respond if there is good reason. So, why do salespeople continue in the dark? They choose to!
They aren't asking the questions they need to ask and, when they are, their questions aren't the right questions at the right time and don't serve to demonstrate added value.
Who is holding them accountable and allowing this malpractice to continue?
It's their sales managers, who are almost as much in the dark as their salespeople. Want an example of sales management being in the dark?
I wrote this article for SoldLab and it was posted there today. End of Quarter Closing is a great example of sales management dysfunction!
Here is a link to a Sales Force Grader.