Driving Sales Takes More Than Just Knowledge

For more than 20 years I have watched organizations of all sizes try and fail to improve sales performance through a formulaic approach to training their reps. Typical solutions include eLearning, face-to-face classes and adding new tools or resources from the marketing department. Maybe a number of meetings have even been called to discuss variables such as segmentation, competition, or product improvements. But far too often the process culminates with the company hoping and waiting with bated breath for the numbers to increase. And if the numbers don’t meet expectations – and they often don’t – the company begins to re-train employees; but not before doing some serious finger pointing.

Excuses, Excuses
Whether it was that the training was “bad,” the marketing team “didn’t understand” your customers, your sales reps just “weren’t strong enough,” or the quota “wasn’t realistic,” you’ve probably heard all of the excuses by now as to why sales have been stagnant. And while there may be some validity to some of these reasons, even if they were to all disappear, there would still something missing: practice.

Think about when you first learned to ride a bike, drive a car, play a sport, or learn an instrument. You may have gotten better; you may not have. But the one commonality when you were successful was that you practiced…and practiced…and probably practiced some more. Sure, someone at some point taught you the basics and maybe even showed you how to do it. But it was through practice that you progressed. Sales performance is no different.

Practice Makes Improvement
A mistake that most companies make is that they stop after they’ve taught their sales force the basics. This type of thinking is flawed in that it fails to acknowledge that practice is necessary to get better at anything. Now of course you need to understand the basics first. After all, you needed to know the rules of the road before you got your license. But just as you couldn’t get safely to your destination without some time logged behind the wheel, it’s quite difficult for your sales force to perform optimally if they haven’t performed enough. Though good sales training builds a necessary foundation, it can’t be where things end.

What differentiates average sales performance from great sales performance happens in the field. Are your managers and leaders providing regular practice opportunities to refine your skills? Are they truly coaching and providing corrective feedback to improve those skills? When they get pressure from above to meet the number, are they teaching reps to resort back to “whatever works” to achieve quota (and thereby discounting all of the hard work done to this point) or are they holding fast to the processes already committed to? Is there a culture of practice? Are sales teams operating in a safe place that encourages collaboration or is cutthroat competition limiting talent development? My experience says that the strong organizations believe in a process that encourages ongoing practice, sharing, and team collaboration.

Are You Looking to Drive Sales?
If your company is looking to implement strategic performance improvement solutions and ultimately drive your sales, Ascend Performance Group, LLC can help. At Ascend Performance our consultants examine performance barriers that are preventing the growth of your organization. Then utilizing techniques found in neuroscience, psychology, adult learning, and leadership, we work with you to create a performance improvement plan to help your company reach its goals. If you’d like to learn more about how Ascend Performance Group is helping organizations achieve greater success, please reach out to jim.knittel@ascendpg.com or give us a call today (585) 732-6191!

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We then follow techniques from neuroscience, psychology, adult learning, and leadership to create customized performance improvement plans focused on moving you from good to great.

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