Don’t argue with Dr Phil
“You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge,” says Dr Phil. And it’s hard to argue with Dr Phil. I mean, he’s Dr Phil after all!!
I don’t know about you, but over 25 years working with sales people, the fastest performance improvements happen with those teams who already have a high degree of willingness to take action. These teams seem to seek continuous improvement, and are hungry for faster, easier, more profitable, more enjoyable ways to doing business with their clients and prospects. My role in these cases seems to be more like preaching to the choir.….
So, what about those teams who need to change NOW but in spite of all of the evidence, continue to deny that there is nothing to improve?
What about those teams who agree that change must occur, as long as they don’t have to change? They’ll say that marketing needs to change, that it’s their territory, that they don’t have the right tools….It’s all external. While they may have a point (let’s face it, sometimes these things need to be addressed to support sales), there is little personal ownership about what they CAN change SPECIFICALLY.
And what about those teams who despite their enthusiasm about embracing change, continue to do what they’ve always done, and continue to get what they’ve always got?
It’s difficult because we’re dealing with human nature – human beings, with habits, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, comfort zones, egos….Ask any leader: short term change is hard enough, but lasting change is really tough. It won’t happen with one or two “events”, and it won’t happen overnight. While there are a number of ways to ensure change occurs at all, let alone lasts, any change starts with awareness. Without awareness of what is actually going on and the impact, no intervention will have a chance.
I’ve found that people need a reason to change. And the best reasons are their own.
As Seth Godin says: “People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. They often believe what their friends tell them. They ALWAYS believe what they tell themselves.”
As leaders, it’s our responsibility to provide the environment and conditions to deliberately to shine a light on what is working and what’s not so every team member is living in reality and not delusion. But how? Here are 3 tools I recommend:
Criteria driven sales behavioural data
Confidentially provided client feedback
Longitudinal sales data
- Criteria driven sales behavioural data
It’s difficult to give salespeople feedback about their performance when it’s about the way they do what they do because it can be subjective and opinion based. The impact depends on the perception the salesperson has on the person providing the feedback.
A more objective way is to identify behavioural criteria that clearly outlines what good looks like and have both parties evaluate performance based on the same criteria. For example, it may be that in your organisation, you have determined that every customer meeting requires a plan with clearly determined outcomes and an outline to achieve those outcomes. While there may still be subjectivity about the execution of these behaviours and the subsequent outcomes, it establishes a more objective conversation based on specific examples of demonstrated behaviours.
- Confidentially provided client feedback
No client will ever be entirely honest with the person they have an ongoing relationship with. It’s just too close. And while surveys and feedback forms are one way, there is nothing quite like conducting a brief conversation using an independent professional. The clincher is that the more confidential the feedback, the more likely it is that the truth will emerge. Look for themes, patterns and trends. While it can be tempting to take back specific feedback from a particular client to a salesperson, look for patterns of behaviour that will be important to address. Identifying strengths to reinforce is just as important as identifying areas to improve.
- Longitudinal sales data
Quarterly sales, year on year and YTD data that pinpoints activity levels, conversion rates and sales cycle lengths helps to pinpoint key result areas that if addressed, will improve overall sales results. When it comes to what your people can personally address, these stats will tell you:
- Whether they’re doing enough to inject new opportunity into the pipeline (is it quantity, quality or a bit of both)
- How effectively they engage with prospects and provide solutions that maximise opportunity (where is the sale lost). You will still need to observe to pinpoint where improvement can be made to turn the losses into wins/progress (ie. First meeting, proposals, lead nurturing, questions, rapport, technique, etc), but it begins to tell a story.
Make your New Year’s resolution to raise the bar by raising awareness.
Let it begin with you.