Organizational leaders ranging from military commanders 4000 years ago to the leaders of today’s corporations – commercial, government, even professional sports organizations – learned that the cardinal advantage of an organization is that success for the organization can come from a group of average, competent people working together, and not necessarily from a collection of harder-to-find experts. In fact, the world’s best are often not successful working in an organization. Being able to work as a contributing member of a team, with personal skills that improve over time and guided by effective processes and procedures (structure), are more likely the determinants of success – than any individual’s superior skill-set and knowledge.
I have worked with a number of companies and their sales teams over the years. This age-old lesson has been ignored by companies, who promote a politically correct but largely unsupported thesis that success in organizations comes from selecting only the best people possible and weeding out the less than exemplary, as if to purify a gene pool. They rank sales employees and dismiss the bottom level; using an array of tests and measures with questionable validity.
The facts and experience show that this philosophy isn’t very successful in strengthening organizational performance. Many times, the results are the opposite.
Don’t The Best Organizations Have the Best People?
The assumption is that quality organizations require quality people, and so leaders should make sure that only top-notch skillful people are recruited, selected and placed in the organization. Great people will produce great results, and especially when they feel engaged and have the freedom to perform. The flaw in this strategy is that it overemphasizes the personal influence of individuals over the culture and design of the organization.
Today as I continue to work with companies and their sales teams, I am stuck by the desire of the sales team to be successful. They want to deliver the revenue objectives that the company has set, however they are handcuffed by the fact that the world of sales is changing constantly. The sales world today is one of social selling, but leadership is not in tune with the changes and therefore can’t understand it when sales continue to stagnate or decline. Management’s expectation is that what worked previously will continue to be the method that will solve today’s problems. Well, if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got!
It’s Not the Sales Team
Smart, skillful, “qualified,” eager-to-please sales teams are of course very beneficial to an organization, but they’re of little value to the organization if they are handcuffed to the usual cold calling, email spamming and unannounced sales calls.
Clear, unambiguous, timely, appropriate direction is critical, but also of little value if it’s not changing to accommodate the new world of Social Selling. If the direction they are given is inappropriate, incorrect or unacceptable, then corrections must be implemented quickly or the organization is spending resources to go in the wrong direction to deliver the same or failing results.
Let’s assume the following:
- You have a good sales team however;
- Good performance is not going to continue if your sales team doesn’t have the right tools to do the job in the new world of Social Selling.
- Good performance is not going to continue if your sales team doesn’t know how to do the job in the new Social Selling environment.
- Good performance is not going to continue if your sales team doesn’t understand why they have to change in the new world of Social Selling.
- Good performance is not going to continue if your sales team doesn’t understand what they have to do to be successful the in the new world of Social Selling.
In order for your sales team to optimize their selling process, the organization’s top leadership also needs to be ensuring that the “sales organization” works; that the required processes /systems /procedures /tools are in place (that the machine is properly designed and constructed) so that sales team can run it. Like a poorly designed or broken car, it still won’t work properly no matter how skillful the driver is without the proper process.
Today your company needs a Social Selling Process. Social Media is the name of the game. It is a fact that buying decisions are already 57% of the way down the road before your sales team ever hears about them. It is a fact that 75% of vendors have been vetted through internet research. If you expect your sales team to be effective using the tried and true, they are bound to fail because your sales process no longer works!
How many cold calls have you answered recently? How many spamming emails do you get that make you angry? When was the last time you stopped by a potential customers office unannounced and were able to get past the gatekeeper?
A good Social Selling Process gets your sales team around all of those situations. It helps them create relationships with prospective and current customers. It helps them become educators so that when a company is looking for the expert, they come to your company. It makes them a part of the 75% of vendors being considered.
Quit treating symptoms and get to the root of the problem. The problem is not your sales team, it is your antiquated sales system. Your people have the ability, they do not have to be superstars, they just need the support mentioned above to take them to the next level. Help them become the sales team they envision of themselves.
Great Systems are More Important than Great People
For the CEO who thinks that the individual skills of the officers and the troops were the reason for their success — that’s rarely ever the case. It’s the processes of the organization, resources and the discipline of the army that usually wins the war.
Publications on diagnosing employee performance problems emphasize that correcting the system (that generates performance problems) is the successful route to resolution and problem prevention; rather than blaming the individuals involved.
CEO’s miss the opportunity to strengthen and improve their sales organizations when they focus too much on addressing day-to-day employee performance problems. Instead, the 30,000 foot perspective of the senior executive requires him or her to develop and implement a Social Selling System into the operations of the organization to prevent continued sales stagnation.