If you’re in sales, we understand if you’re offended by the title of this post; we’re sorry. But the fact is that for businesses ranging from insurance companies to software and tech, underperforming salespeople are a constant drain on the organization.
Sure, sales drives revenue, but it can also be an enormous albatross cinched around the neck of an enterprise. Just consider some of the problems sales introduces:
- High turnover rates that can exceed 50%
- Costly salaries, commissions, and expense accounts all add up when sellers fail to close deals
- Exorbitant costs associated with time, money, and energy spent recruiting, hiring, training, and supervising people that inevitably quit without ever making a sale
- Costs associated with long sales cycles that end in lost deals
- Beatings to the company’s reputation as well as poor morale across the business
It’s not that we’re trying to portray sales as the single contributing factor to any business’ woes, but these are significant problems that for many organizations, are accepted as part of doing business.
But Why Do Sales Teams Perform So Poorly?
To answer that very question, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) conducted a seven-year study to determine what good selling truly entails and how sales effectiveness can be enhanced.
The findings of the study are fascinating and you can read the entire report here. In summary, a successful salesperson requires two traits:
1. Ego Drive
According to HBR, a successful seller has a drive to complete the sale and experience the satisfaction that comes with conquest. It’s not just about the commission, it’s about a personal need that must be fulfilled.
According to the HBR study: “...ability to feel as the other fellow does in order to be able to sell him a product or service.” In short, a good salesman doesn’t just walk into a room like a robot with an inflexible set of pitches and responses. Instead, a good salesperson can empathize, understand, and react to the customer.
There’s a lot more to explore in each of these traits, and the study offers plenty of exposition on how balances and imbalances of these characteristics comprise the disposition of a good vs. bad salesperson.
What you need to know upfront is that without these two traits, a salesperson is not going to perform.
That Can’t Be All There Is to It, Right?
You’re right, there’s more that goes into creating a successful salesperson than ego and empathy. Experience factors into it, but not as much as you would think. There are plenty of instances where people have changed roles, departments, industries, and careers to discover that their true skill lies outside the sphere of their experience. Sales isn’t any different.
Individuals with years or decades of experience may never amount to much in terms of selling, while those with little to no experience in sales may have the traits and disposition that make them incredibly successful.
You might also think of training as being a contributing factor, and yes, training is part of it, but as the study points out, “The most skilled diamond polisher, given a piece of coal, can only succeed in creating a highly polished piece of coal’ but given the roughest type of uncut diamond, he can indeed turn it into the most precious stone.”
In summary, a skilled trainer can take the right candidate and help refine that individual’s skillset, but if a trainee never had the right disposition in the first place, there’s only so much that can be done.
So What about Sales Enablement Technology?
Technology is a bit of an outlier in all this. The HBR study doesn’t delve into the role of technology in creating a good salesperson, and with good reason. Indeed, technology is not the answer for creating a successful salesperson. If anything, the study shows that being a good salesperson is more about character and personality than training, experience, and technologies.
But in today’s complex, highly configurable, and personalized world of products and services, even the person with the optimal sales disposition is going to need some help. And that’s where technologies like CRM, CLM, CPQ, and numerous others come into play.
With a connected platform of digital sales technologies, a good salesperson can become great.
The following can allow a salesperson to leverage his or her skills on targeted prospects and accounts instead of wasting precious time and energy trying to cultivate pipeline:
- Customer data and insights
- Real-time product and pricing updates
- Transparency across the sales cycle
- Automated approvals and updates
- An influx in strong, qualified leads from Marketing
How Do I Take My Sales Team from “Suck” to Success?
Unfortunately, bringing your sales team up from the depths of despair likely isn’t an overnight fix. It’s going to take a shift in your recruiting and evaluation methodology to ensure you attract candidates that have the disposition necessary to be successful.
Still, once you begin cultivating the right talent, there’s more to be done. At FPX, we have been helping businesses take their sales teams from good to great with the help of our CPQ application.
With FPX CPQ, reps can quickly and easily configure, price, and quote solutions on any device with up-to-date data and insights and ensure 100% order accuracy with every engagement.
With sales enablement at the center of your business’ Sales Transformation or Digital Transformation strategy, CPQ is an integral resource to ensuring your efforts are rewarded with sustainable, successful outcomes.