Eating Salad with a Spoon

A while ago I found myself forced to eat my lunch salad with a spoon. Have you ever tried to eat salad with a spoon? Probably not, I’m sure. But, if you did try, you’d see it’s pretty damn hard to do! Salad falls off a spoon. You need to stab your salad with a fork.

I was in this predicament because, quite frankly, I was too lazy to go back to the deli to get a fork. Now, I’m here to testify that you can’t eat soup with a fork, you can’t eat peas with a knife and you definitely can’t eat salad with a spoon. Simply put, you need the right tool ready at the table to enjoy your meal. Similarly, salespeople need the right tools in their jobs to enjoy closing those deals.

I was thinking as I was eating (it was a much longer lunch than I thought it would be) about an interview just the day before with a young saleswoman who was looking to leave her current employer. She hadn’t been there very long, so I was somewhat skeptical about her reasons for wanting a change so soon.

When asked about this short tenure, she explained that she doubted she could be successful at her company since there was no “infrastructure” to guarantee her success. “What do you mean by infrastructure?” I asked. She went on to explain that she had . . .

  • No database of existing qualified leads or prospects and no formal lead qualification process in place;
  • Very little training by her manager and no regularly scheduled sales meetings with him (this was done more on an ad-hoc basis);
  • A very mediocre company website which did not proactively sell nor did it effectively capture inbound leads; and,
  • No marketing support in the form of prepared presentations or Webex demos and no template of proposals for that all-important sales close.

In other words, she didn’t have the tools to get the job done, even though her annual quota started from “day one.” She had been successful in her past two jobs (which is why they hired her) but she was now afraid of failing. Truthfully, signs indicated that failure was a real possibility for her at this company.

GET THE ABACUS AND SLIDE-RULE . . .

Companies wouldn’t hire an accountant and give him an abacus; they wouldn’t hire an engineer and give her a slide-rule, so why would you hire a salesperson and give them a desk, a phone and a few meager leads and expect them to get the job to get done?

Every person in the organization deserves the right tools to get the job done. For sales, here are the bare essentials:

  • Lead Generation: Good salespeople will always be prospecting for their own leads, but you need to provide a robust lead generation program as well. There should be a formally established web-based inbound lead generation program and an outbound lead program as well (trade shows, business development calls, etc.).
  • Marketing Support: Salespeople need promotional material, professional presentations and support for complex proposals at the end of the sales cycle. Marketing and sales should work hand-in-hand on these efforts.
  • Effective Website: Your website must primarily be a sales tool, in addition to whatever else you need to communicate. Make sure your products are described effectively (read “sizzle”) and that your prospects and customers can easily contact you.  Be sure the mobile app is as easy to navigate as the web-based version.
  • Ongoing Training & Motivation: I have written about this many times before. There is NOTHING, simply nothing more effective in growing the sales of your company than a salesforce that is professionally trained, motivated to perform and constantly monitored for their performance. Training and motivation turn your sales people into high-performance engines!

IT’S A “TWO STEP”

Remember, hiring the right salesperson is just the first step toward meeting your sales goals. Giving salespeople the tools they need to get the job done is the critical second step toward guaranteeing success, and in turn, your revenue targets are met and exceeded!

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