What's So Hard About Sales Execution?

 

Posted By Lewis Miller | Jan 03, 2014

 

We have engaged with hundred's of sales leaders over the past year in direct selling situations, through our sales performance surveys, and at sales leader conferences and forums. These conversations have led us to a number of compelling and consistent trends regarding the difficulty with effective sales execution.

Selling has become a very complex art form from both the perspective of the seller and the buyer. From the seller's viewpoint, product and solution offerings have expanded in size, scope and complexity making it very difficult to keep up with positioning and value. On the buyer side, much has been written about the impact of access to information the buyers have early in the selling cycle and that many buyers have made decisions before they engage directly with sellers.

Given these two basic fundamentals, the ability to effectively execute your sales strategy is dependent on modernizing your selling system. The buyer, through access to information, has advanced faster than a seller's ability to keep up. Think about your selling system:

  • Is it still a CRM system only?
  • Does it incorporate a Marketing Automation system to score leads?
  • Have you trained your sellers in a specific approach or methodology that matches your value with customer needs?
  • Have you provided sales productivity tools like content management portals to help sales people find assets?

Even if you have done them all, this type of selling system is still not perfect: it may range from organizing data about leads and opportunities and to a fragmented, outdated set of tools that no one uses to actually impact sales. It should be no surprise the most common response we get to questions about the selling system: salespeople DO NOT use any piece of it. Do not forget, the buyer has advanced at lightening speed compared to this scenario.

Modernizing your selling system means you need to, at a minimum, be on par with the customers' ability to navigate the buying cycle. So while the systems mentioned above do provide lead or opportunity context, they do not effectively guide the seller through the buyer process. Remember, sales leaders: every selling situation is different. The number of variables that impact the selling strategy is growing not shrinking.

Modernize your selling system and effectively execute your strategy - taking the context that your sales tools provide and deliver a situational framework to your sellers that provides guidance through the buyer process. To do this you need to focus on customer problems, not products. You need to incorporate buyer cycles into your selling system versus a singular focus on a selling process.

Different buyer or stakeholder types have different priorities and require different sales conversations. A basic and simple approach is to remember that every buyer type has a NEED. They desire to deliver an OUTCOME as a result of addressing the need. They are looking for very specific SOLUTIONS to address their need. And finally, they are looking for a partner that can provide EVIDENCE or substantiation that they can deliver. We call this the NOSE approach (as outlined in Dr. Tom Sant's best-selling Persuasive Business Proposals book).

Simplify, modernize, and integrate your selling systems. If you do so, sellers will use it because they will see the results and value. As a result of use, management will have visibility to what is working and what is not. Then and only then will you be able to focus on Sales Execution!

Good selling in 2014!

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Sales Enablement