You’ve read a well publicized book filled with new ideas, attended a super-charged, inspired conference or webinar, participated in your mastermind or peer group and you are on fire. You come back to the office ready to go, excited to share what you’ve learned with your sales team and you experience what I call “the letdown.”
Your team doesn’t get as excited as you. They just don’t. Maybe it’s because they don’t see your vision or perhaps you haven’t conveyed it with as much excitement and intensity. Or maybe it’s because you’ve worn them out a bit.
I love “shiny new objects.” I want to try them out, understand how they work and then see if they fit into how we work. I consider it part of my job to seek out new things and understand if they can add value to what we do. Yes, it means that I disregard 95% of them, but that’s okay. I also want to try tools that will help us be more productive, sell more and serve our clients better. Several of the tools we used five years ago are not on our radar any longer. And others are our must-have, go-to tools that we couldn’t work without.
Leaders who are passionate about their own professional development, who engage in learning through industry or peer groups often find themselves filled up with great ideas they want to share and encourage others to, especially their salespeople, embrace.
I have noticed that sales teams are fatigued. They can’t keep up with the pace of change within some organizations or are in organizations where the pace of change is so slow they’ve fallen asleep and lost interest waiting for leadership to join the 21st century. (If you think those companies don’t exist, they do. I recently met a CEO who declared that he and his leadership team made an executive decision five years ago not to use LinkedIn or have their employees use it. Need I say more)?
Here are 5 ways I see sales team fatigue:
- In the first few minutes of discussing their sales strategy, I get a simple eye roll. They claim there is no plan and every time they’ve tried to implement something, no one pays attention. Why would there be a team of people with are charged with a role as important as sales with no strategy. Solution: Does your top competitor have a sales strategy? Find a company who has disrupted your industry in some way and see if you can determine their sales process. Study their sales process and determine if you can create something similar.
- Salespeople are being asked to do more production/administrative work which takes time away from selling. Hey folks, buying Salesforce is not the answer to less admin work. Salespeople bogged down with more tech tools and no training, coaching or reinforcement grinds them to a halt faster than anything. Solution: Ensure the investment you’ve made in tools and technology pay off by tailoring those tools and platforms to your team; provide ongoing coaching, training and updates so your team stays engaged and adoption is consistent and high.
- Sales leaders haven’t actually used the tools they ask their salespeople to use and don’t understand how they do (and often don’t) work. They, the sales leaders, have been sold themselves on something without pressing the buttons and using said technology, platform or device. Solution: As a sales leader, use the tools as your salespeople do. Do they work the way you thought they would? The more you understand the tools they are required to use, the more you will understand if they deliver what they are supposed to, and where the opportunities, and even the gaps, are.
- Sales leaders, maybe for the sake of their sanity, try to build a one-size-fits-all salespeople program rather than creating at least a couple of pathways for sales success. Why not have specific sales programs or projects that salespeople can tap into? Solution: Not everyone is going to embrace social selling, so does it make sense to make it a requirement? Although I think it’s critical to embrace it, how about not mandating it from the beginning but creating a pilot where success can be demonstrated more definitively with those who are eager to engage in social selling? The others will either come along or realize they need to move aside. Are you a leader who recognizes that not every sales person, even the most profitable, seasoned or gifted is going to be spirited by engaging socially?
- Salespeople give up on being creative and inspired. They are beaten down by the Excel spreadsheet full of calls made, meetings set up, proposals drafted, won and lost. Don’t get me wrong, I get the need for all of that, but those numbers in and of themselves may not tell the whole story. Solution: The more sales leaders provide a framework for sales success that inspires their salespeople to take responsibility for generating their own leads through referrals and their network, distinguish their personal brand and expertise through knowledge-sharing, the better. Let your salespeople become rock stars. Put them on the highway and let them drive. If they get off on a particular exit, there may be a reason and they may find out it’s a good shortcut or a dead-end. Either way, they learn and add that experience to their memory bank.
For the salespeople in companies where it’s strategy and tactics du jour, there is rarely enough runway to test if something works before something new interrupts it. Cycling in and out constantly is tiresome for most people. It also becomes hard to measure success.
Which leader are you?
The one who tires everyone out with shiny new objects? The one who doesn’t present any new ideas or strategies?
Either way, your goal should be to figure out which one best defines you and consider how you can recalibrate yourself and your management to re-engage your salespeople.
If you’re the shiny new object/idea leader, choose your strategy and tools and commit to them for at least three months, or even better, six months. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t; stay with it unless of course, it becomes so off kilter. One of my clients implemented a Center of Influence campaign for five months and in the end, the Excel spreadsheet highlighted the following:
- 45 new 1st time face-to-face meetings
- 34 proposals
- $391,000 new business won
- More than $1 million in lifetime value
The CEO, my client, committed after testing several other ideas. Once he committed, he stayed the course. Why only five months? He sold his company. The new much larger company commented they didn’t have a sales process as focused and successful as his.