Today I'm in Florida, preparing to speak at a company's national meeting. Like many companies, they have not only realized that selling has changed dramatically, but that their salespeople may not have adapted, developed new skills, and changed the way they sell. If you're a regular reader, active on LinkedIn or Social Media, then you have certainly read about the many ways that selling has changed. But most senior executives haven't put two and two together yet. They know that win rates are down and sales cycles are longer, they know it's more difficult than ever before, they see that their salespeople are struggling to meet quotas, but they don't realize the extent to which things have changed. There are four critical requirements which, together are the difference between success and failure.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that we are talking about good salespeople, not bad ones. There is an elite group of 7% - superstars - a larger group of an additional 16% that are fairly strong, and then the bottom 77% who suck. We're going to talk about the changes that the top 23% need to make. While the manner in which the bottom 77% approach selling can significantly change their results, there are issues other than those we will discuss here that limit their success.
1. Value. Since there is more competition than ever before and competition puts pressure on margins, it is more important than ever that salespeople have the ability to sell value. Refer to this article for more on selling value today. I just analyzed the data from nearly 8,000 OMG (Objective Management Group) sales candidate assessments from earlier this month. I narrowed it down to 66% who have been in sales for 5 years or more and found that on average, these sales veterans possess only 62% of the attributes of a value seller.
2. Consultative Approach. It is not possible to sell value unless it is integrated into a consultative approach to selling. Refer to this article for more on a consultative approach, which helps you to tailor your solution and differentiate you and your company from the competition. Today, salespeople possess, on average, only 48% of the attributes of Consultative Sellers.
3. Process. If you can't sell value without a consultative approach, then the same can be said for the approach. Value and a consultative approach will not work unless they are integrated into a formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric sales process. Read this great article for more on sales process. In surveys, most companies say they have a sales process in place. However, our sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments reveal that salespeople possess, on average, only 52% of the attributes required for following a Sales Process.
4. Social. Cold calling isn't dead but it is on life support. It takes between 10-15 attempts to reach a decision maker and the conversion rates are falling like a piano dropped from the roof of a skyscraper. Salespeople must be able to leverage their social networks, get introduced, and reach out to prospects via LinkedIn, Twitter and email to supplement the calls that they make. Salespeople possess, on average, only 38% of the attributes of a Social Seller. This one is worse than that score. More than 1/3 of this group scored below 25%!
What Can You Do? If you want to dramatically change and improve results, there are three things you can do.
- Bite the bullet and have a customized, optimized modern, staged, milestone-centric sales process created for you ASAP!
- Get your sales force trained and coached on the new process, a consultative approach to selling value, and social selling.
- Hire the right salespeople - those who already possess these capabilities! The best selection tool is OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment. Check out the free trial!