Sales people are gladiators. They are independent fighters for the company, expected to fight the fight with whatever tools they have. Like gladiators, sales people are expected to win. There are no excuses for losing. They are expected to be gritty, resourceful, creative and driven. Sales people, like gladiators, are expected to just get it done.
This independent, capable, accomplished, solo sales warrior ideal, however romantic, is a common notion. Unfortunately, embracing this notion costs companies billions of dollars a year.
In most cases gladiators were slaves. They lived, were trained and fed in the homes of their owners. Gladiators were seen as an investment and the best gladiators came from the best houses, those that took the best care of their fighters.
Sales teams are no different.
Unfortunately, too often companies don’t make the appropriate investment in their sales teams and are surprised with the results.
Here are five ways companies fail their sales teams —
Poor or Weak Value Propositions:
Too often companies think sales people should be able to sell anything. Give them a product and show them the door. What most companies miss is sales people sell what is given to them. Give sales people a shitty, commoditized product with little competitive differentiation and sales will suffer. Regardless of how strong the sales team is, they can’t sell a shitty product. It’s the companies job to create solid products with strong, competitive differentiators. Creating killer products with strong differentiation ISN’T sales job. It’s the companies.
Complicated Commission Plan:
Forty to seventy percent of sales peoples compensation is variable. That means they don’t make that money unless they sell something. Therefore it’s a companies job to create, simple, dead-stupid-easy commission plans that allow sales people to know how they get paid. Too often companies create complicated, demoralizing, confusing commission plans that leave the sales team clueless on how they get paid. Don’t over think commission plans.
The Sales Prevention Department:
Every company has a sales prevention department. The SPD gets in sales way. They are the group that holds up a 50 million dollar sale because the customer wants billing to commence in the middle of the month and your company requires billing to be at the beginning. Really? Sales prevention departments drive sales people crazy. The more bureaucratic a company is the bigger their sales prevention department will be. Sales people have enough challenges externally to getting the deal closed, they don’t need to have to fight internally too. Get rid of the sales prevention department and stop making it hard for you sales people to sell.
No Sales Support or Lack of Sales Enablement:
It’s not enough just to get out of sales peoples way these days. Sales are increasingly more and more complex. Companies need to provide broad, robust support to make it easier to sell. Companies need to provide selling tools, presentation and collateral development, lead support, strategy development, cross functional support, etc. Sales enablement is the companies support of the sales teams engagement with its customers. Without a good sales enablement function, sales cycles are longer and close rates are lower. Support your sales team.
The importance of good leadership holds true for any functional group, not just sales. In sales your superstar sales guy doesn’t alway make the best sales leader.
Sales people need motivation, coaching, and direction. Having shitty sales management in place sucks the life out of any sales organization. Too often companies pay too little attention to sales leadership, too focused on the numbers.The soft-skills required to lead a team to greatness are missed or worse ignored. Find the best leaders you can and put them over you sales team. The best leaders will get more out of your sales people than they can get out of themselves.
Sales people are the closest things to real-life super heros. They accomplish amazing things with little support and direction. Sales people are at the tip of the company spear. Sales people determine whether or not the company makes its revenue goals. Don’t fail your sales team. Give them a decent product with discernable differentiation and a strong value proposition. Give them an easy to understand commission plan. Get rid of the sales prevention department. Support and enable your sales team and provide over the top, killer leadership. Your sales team deserves it.
The best sales teams, like the best gladiators, will come from companies who take the best care of them.
Stop failing your sales teams, else they start failing you.