“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results” is a colloquial quote you’ve likely heard many times throughout your sales career as a motivational statement or theme for a sales meeting. As played out as it may be, there’s a reason why it’s used so often – it’s true, and 100 times amplified when it comes to sales.
All too often we see Sales VPs who have never been coached and CEOs who don’t understand sales, making lots of unnecessary mistakes repeatedly. These individuals are leading inefficient sales organizations, following the same blueprint year after year, and unable to consistently reach their goals. There are three reasons for this: 1) either they are unaware that they have issues, 2) they know they have a problem, and don’t know how to fix it, or 3) they know they have a problem, know how to fix it, but are afraid to make the change for a variety of reasons.
Many of our prospective clients fall into the second or third categories; they have identified a problem, and they know it needs to be fixed, and they may or may not be sure of how. In our sales process we conduct complimentary consultations, and during this consultative pre-close stage we see the same thing time and time again: while these prospects have taken a critical first step by admitting they have a problem and identifying what it is, they aren’t actually committed to fixing it. And if they aren't willing to commit, we as self-described "change agents" won't be able to help them.
Often times, these prospects don’t know that they aren’t committed to fixing their problems – they believe that they are, that’s why they’ve contacted a sales consulting company! What we find through our discovery is that once a problem has been identified, there are always many more underlying factors that must be addressed in order to actually fix the original problem. The solution is rarely simple and often will require a large effort on behalf of the prospect and their business in order to see different results.
Take for example, a VP of Sales has who has identified that they need better visibility into their sales funnel, and they think they need a CRM system to fix this problem. What they may not have identified is that in order for a CRM system to actually be effective, the sales team needs to be committed to using it, and sales management needs to improve communication with the sales team to follow up on the funnel and lead/account management. Now the solution isn’t simply selecting and implementing a CRM system, it’s CRM training and adoption, more sales meetings, and increased accountability across the board - there's a lot more work and time involved.
Now, consider a CEO who has identified a need for a new VP of Sales, after churning through several previous VPs who have underperformed. The CEO realizes they have a need for a new VP, and believes they just haven’t found the right person for the job in the past. While this seems like a simple recruitment need, upon further inspection issues of compensation, intimate product/market knowledge, and a defined sales strategy come to light. In order for the next VP of Sales to last in the role at this company, a daunting amount of preparation needs to be done to ensure their success.
In both of these examples, once the suggestions were made for larger change to address the original problems, the initial reaction was to pushback. This is a normal response; committing to real change means that many things will need to be altered, such as company culture, sales protocols, management styles, and accountability levels. However, it can be done, and many companies have endured the pain of change before, and have come out the other side more successful and thankful they made a commitment to doing things differently.
We can promise you that change will be hard and you will make mistakes along the way, but we also promise you it will get easier and you will see different results. This year we encourage you to get uncomfortable, push your boundaries, and get to the root of your sales problems so you can fix them for good. Don’t let the definition of insanity define you – roll up your sleeves and try new sales strategies and tactics that will lead to noticeable, lasting change in your sales organization in 2017.