By John Benson
One of the most important coaching roles a managers can play with the sales people they are coaching is getting them to think differently. In the press of everyday business, we get in a rut-I wrote about it a couple of days ago in “Momentum-Helping Us Or Holding Is Back?” In maximizing the performance of each person, it’s important that we challenge them to think differently about everything they do.
Are we chasing the right deals? Too often, particularly in tough times, we chase bad deals-deals outside our sweet spot or deals that may be unprofitable for our company. We waste lots of time and resources going after deals we don’t really want or have low probabilities of winning. We would be better off investing time in prospecting for the right deals, then pursuing them.
Key accounts-are they the right ones? We tend to revere our key accounts, we treat them specially, we provide different kinds of support, we do anything we can to retain and grow that business. We’ve had them as key accounts for years, we can’t imagine not having them for many more years. Yet, often, they are not our best accounts, they may be our least profitable accounts. We may have negotiated special pricing, we provide more support-soon their profitability goes down. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider how much we invest in them, we may still want to keep them as a good account, but we may want to start investing more in developing newer accounts that are more profitable.
Are we on autopilot in executing our sales process? This may be a problem with experienced and successful sales people, sometimes we get on autopilot. We start becoming unconscious during the sales process. We start missing things, we make assumptions based on past experience, not the current situation, we start making errors and losing.
Do we have a balanced funnel? Sales people like doing deals, we tend to focus our time at the bottom of the funnel-doing the final proposal, the final “pitch,” closing and negotiating. These can consume our time, but then they go away, we look at our pipelines and there’s nothing there.
Are we differentiating ourselves and creating distinctive value? We tend to present the same stale value proposition, without really understanding whether it means anything to the customer. We haven’t determined what they value, then present our value in the context of what’s meaningful to them. We rely on the “old value propositions,” yet the competitors have outpaced us.
Are we focusing on our selling process, not the customer’s buying process? We create the greatest value focusing on how the customer wants to buy and facilitating their buying process.
These are just a few examples of the ruts sales people fall into. A key role for the sales manager is to help our people recognize the ruts they are in, reassess them and break out of them.