Guest Post from my buddy Adam Boyd; Adam hangs his hat in Austin, TX where he works for Sandler Training helping organizations maximize selling opportunities
“Stop the car, Mom! Stop the car!” My not-quite-three-year-old son yelled from the back seat, panicked. “What’s wrong?” my wife, startled and concerned, asked. “I dropped a puff,” he replied. (Puffs are small, easily dissolved foods for infants. My son had some of his baby sister’s.)
Realizing this wasn’t an emergency, she asked, “Do you still have your bowl in your hand?”
“Do you have puffs in your bowl?”
“Eat those. I’ll get the other one when we stop.”
For my toddler, life is always urgent. It’s now or not at all. He couldn’t let this one puff go. We’re working on patience with him. But his attitude would serve sales organizations and salespeople well. How so?
Opportunities have a shelf life. Time kills deals. Yes, some deals do require time, but many are lost because too much time has lapsed. In those, the seller often failed to uncover any urgency.
But even more prevalent is the lack of urgency on the part of a seller to go looking for new opportunities. “I’m working on the Acme deal – I don’t have time to make these calls, use this CRM, or follow up on those bad leads,” many say. The result? Deals we only hear about others winning. Or success we see others have. This is easy to gloss over, though, because we don’t see the money we didn’t make. We didn’t realize a little more effort would grow sales and income 10, 30, 50% or more.
Too many organizations have leaders – owners, CEOs, VPs – who have a sense of urgency about revenue and the pipeline. But when it comes to their sales team, the sales culture is not one where people are aggressively seeking and pursuing opportunities. Some salespeople see sales as something for marketing to create, or for the leaders to drive. The ownership mentality is missing. Others are stuck in a comfort zone, afraid to fail because they lack confidence. And still others don’t know how to go find the new business. In any case, the result is a business that cannot get to the next level, scale, or be sold, because it’s too dependent on the efforts of a select few people.
Why does this happen?
- We know 76% of people are miscast in sales. It could the wrong role, the wrong function, or the wrong market for them.
- We often fail to onboard them appropriately and set expectations. The 20-year veteran doesn’t have to make cold calls.
- We fail to hold people accountable for performance.
- We fail to build the right comp plan, or truly know what motivates people.
- We don’t replace non-performers.
- We hire people who lack the desire and commitment to do what’s necessary to succeed at selling.
- We don’t help them overcome conceptual roadblocks – fears, doubts and worries – that impede success in selling.
For individuals who sell, this happens for a few other reasons:
- They cannot get past the discomfort of prospecting to make themselves do it.
- They lack an accountability mechanism.
- They lack the skills to be successful consistently.
- They aren’t clear on their goals, their “why.”
Sixteen months ago I met a new life insurance agent. He told me he was struggling. I asked him about his hours. “I tend to start around 9 am and finish around 5:00,” he said.
“You won’t make it,” I told him. “You aren’t acting like a guy who wants to succeed. If you are committed to this, your day needs to start at 7:30 and wrap at 6:30, at least.” Four months later I saw him. He was doing well. He was at it early, working longer hours. All because he gained a sense of urgency.
If you want to discuss these issues, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.