Forget One & You Fall Down

It’s quite instructive to examine the nature of offerings from the hordes of sales consulting and training firms.  The overwhelming majority of them are focused on developing sales skills.  Clearly, what sales managers are demanding is precisely that.

All well and good.  I’m the first to violently agree that selling skills are fundamentally and critically important.  Ya’ gotta’ have ’em.  Without ’em, you’re dead meat.

What concerns me is the near total lack of training regarding sales process and metrics.

Every business school known to mankind and virtually every consulting/training firm for other business functions  teaches with a three-legged stool philosophy.  It’s skills, it’s process and it’s metrics.  Tools supplement and help with the coordination of the three essential legs.

Lets’ say you make your living managing a baseball team.  Let’s also say you have the world’s greatest living all-around athlete signed to a 10-year, no-way-out contract.  Now let’s say that athlete takes the field and does all the things required to win a basketball game.  In other words executes a basketball process.  Let’s measure the athlete’s performance in the context of what wins basketball games; by counting rebounds, percentage of shots made and defensive steals.  Goofy to even consider, right?  That awesome set of skills is so badly misapplied, that it’s totally useless.

Let’s say you make your living building cars.  Let’s also say you have the world’s greatest living plant manager signed to a 10-year, no-way-out contract.  Now let’s say that plant manager goes into the factory and does all the things required to build laptop computers.  In other words executes a laptop manufacturing process.  Let’s measure the plant manager’s performance in the context of profitably building laptops; by counting percentage of hard drives correctly installed, number of copies of Windows sold and number of machines built with more than 2 USB ports.  Goofy to even consider, right?  That awesome set of skills is so badly misapplied, that it’s totally useless.

Let’s say you make your living selling stuff.  Let’s also say you have the world’s greatest living all-around sales rep signed to a 10-year, no-way-out contract.  You want that rep selling your stuff right?  Not doing the things that make a great baseball player or get a bunch of high quality cars built.  You want that rep executing a sales process; your sales process.  Not a basketball process or a laptop production process.  And you want to measure performance in the context of revenue generation; things like sell cycle, close rate and average deal size.

Time to state the obvious.  A sales rep – even the greatest in the world – cannot execute a sales process that doesn’t exist.  And, by the way, if the process is not written down, agreed to and executed by the entire sales team it does not exist.  And if the process does not exist it cannot be measured.

Please do me a favor.  Promise yourself to be totally objective, hard-nosed and honest, and re-read the previous paragraph.  Are you solidly based on a three-legged stool?  Or are you more like The Great Wallenda, balancing precariously on the skill leg only?

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  • Mark says:

    Having owned my own sales organization, and worked for several…..imagine how far a launched the swig of coffee when I was skimming this! There are so many “managers” who should read this twice a day.

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