A Vice President of Sales posed a funny question to me years ago as we were discussing challenges facing her sales organization. She looked me in the eye and asked: Why are we still talking about this S*%!? (Stuff??)
The question made me laugh out loud because it was a healthy dose of reality. We live in the information age and yet sales managers, sales trainers, and sales consultants are still teaching and talking to sales teams about the same selling challenges that we did 25 years ago.
Why are we still talking about these topics?
Because sales managers, sales trainers, and sales consultants can all fall into the trap of INFORMING salespeople not TRANSFORMING salespeople. What’s the difference?
We inform salespeople about the importance of asking provocative, challenging questions.
We transform salespeople when we help them get comfortable asking such questions.
We inform salespeople to call on the C-suite.
We transform salespeople when we teach them the confidence and competence needed to hold such conversations.
We inform salespeople to sell value, not price.
We transform salespeople by teaching them emotion management skills so they don’t get emotionally derailed during negotiations.
We inform salespeople that deliberate practice increases mastery and success.
We transform salespeople when we invest time during one-on-one coaching sessions role-playing or practicing a specific skill.
For example, a sales manager can INFORM his sales team that practice is important. The sales manager TRANSFORMs the sales team creates a practice culture.
What is a practice sales culture?
- A sales culture that embraces the difficulty of learning. It understands and works through what Scott Belsky coined “the messy middle”. In the sales profession, the messy middle is where you stop executing an outdated sales approach, however, you haven’t quite mastered the new sales approach. As a result, you might stumble and bumble until you do master new skills. The messy middle is where salespeople would like to give up rather than “grow up”.
- A practice sales culture is an emotionally self-aware culture. The sales manager and salespeople are aware of the emotional pull of instant gratification. This emotional state is where human beings want to shortcut the heavy lifting required to become masterful.
Salespeople and sales managers make excuses for not setting aside time for deliberate, intentional practice. They choose the hope and denial path to mastery. They hope and pretend that new habits and skills will magically develop and improve.
Are you still talking about the same sales challenges as 25 years ago?
If the answer is yes, it’s because you are informing NOT transforming your sales team.