Squirrels forage for nuts and then bury them to save for winter. The irony is that they often forget where they buried them. If the squirrel is lucky, it’ll stumble upon its buried treats. Even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while.
Sometimes, managers and salespeople don’t behave much differently.
If you’re an attractive company with a sexy new product or an in-demand service in a lighter competitive market, selling is often like shooting fish in a barrel. People are calling you to buy from you and new opportunities are simply falling into your lap—which can lead to you perceiving yourself as a talented salesperson, rather than the transactional order-taker you’ve let yourself become.
Moreover, if a business is on track to hit their monthly or quarterly goals, it’s easy to slide developing essential processes and strategies down to the bottom of the priority list. This is especially true in young and emerging businesses that are moving so fast, they’re missing out on developing the processes that can scale and create massively successful companies.
They often lack a development roadmap as well as the training and coaching necessary to actually lead, coach and develop a team. Instead, their sales strategy is, “Because of who we are, sales will be made. Just get out there and bring in some business.”
But just because you can inadvertently run into a sale doesn’t mean you’re actually growing as a salesperson.
Challenging times always provide the real test of every business and individual salesperson’s true strengths, testing the alignment between you and reality and fully exposing you for who you really are. The veil is lifted, and your skills, commitment and character can be honestly assessed as either fact or fiction.
For example, when another competitor surfaces in the marketplace with a hotter, sexier new product, that’s when a manager and their salespeople can’t understand why their revenue is slipping, growth is stagnating and the leads, as well as the sales, are coming in less frequently.
First, rather than look inward, managers may direct their blame outward. “It must be the economy,” they might say. Or, they might start blaming their salespeople and their company: “The reason we’re in this mess is because of the marketing (or procurement, engineering, customer service, operations, logistics) department,” or “My salespeople are lazy.”
And so, like a squirrel, managers begin to scamper around in search of their elusive nut—the magical elixir that will turn everything around to the way it used to be. But in their quest to find a solution, they’re often guilty of making the greatest assumption of all: That everyone is already developed and trained.
Whether you’re managing the team or are part of the team, do you really know how each person on your team is performing and engaging in each activity? Do you fully understand their skill level? How they organize their day? Whether they’re taking the time to effectively plan before a customer call or meeting? What does each conversation sound like when speaking with a prospect or a customer? What questions are they asking when qualifying every new opportunity, and what are they doing with the information they collect?
This is where the magic happens. If you don’t have the proven systems, strategies and best practices in place to address these questions, how will you know what to focus on when times get tough?
When your business starts looking beyond the results, activity reports and scorecards, and starts to develop the core competencies and best practices necessary to effectively coach, only then will you recognize the potholes that need repairing.
Keith Rosen, CEO of Profit Builders and founder of Coachquest, has delivered his programs to hundreds of thousands of people in practically every industry in over 75 countries. Rosen has written several bestsellers, including “Sales Leadership,” “Own Your Day” and the globally acclaimed “Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions,” winner of five international best book awards and the No. 1 bestselling sales management book on Amazon for eight consecutive years.