As I was preparing for our webinar today on Building High Performance Sales Teams, I was reminded just how difficult the task is. In the webinar, I dispel several myths:
- Great talent = great success: The idea that all you need to do is hire a superstar salesperson and your sales problems will be solved is probably the biggest myth of all. While there are a few (far, far fewer than you most people think) true superstars who can come into virtually any sales situation and succeed, the reality is they are virtually impossible to find and so expensive that while they may be successful, often times they are not profitable. An effective sales process will have far more impact on your business.
- If you can sell one thing, you can sell anything: This myth manifests itself in several ways. The most common is the effort to “hire away” one of your competitor’s salespeople. The reality is there are many contributors to a salesperson’s success and/or struggles. Unless you can recreate the environment where the salesperson was successful, there is no guarantee.
- The only measurement for salespeople is closing: This myth also manifests itself in many ways. The most common manifestation is the time companies take until they determine whether the rep is successful. The single, biggest and most costly mistake I see in building successful sales teams is taking too long to make the judgment on salespeople. A high-performance sales team understands what causes sales and is able to judge a salesperson’s performance within 90 – 180 days.
- Sales is different from other business disciplines: The number one reason companies fail to implement effective sales processes (well, actually number two behind the difficulty of creating effective sales processes) is the misbegotten belief that salespeople are different. That it’s more creative and salespeople need to be freer to do what they do. The reality is that just because sales is difficult to understand does not mean that it’s different than any other business discipline.
- Predictable Sales is an Oxymoron: The problem with most sales organizations is that they play the equivalent game of pool without having to call their shots. It’s like they’re constantly breaking, they hit their cue ball as hard as they can and then take credit for the balls that go in. That worked (barely) in the past when demand was growing exponentially and money was free, but in the future, successful sales organizations and salespeople will need to call their shots. One of the advantages great sales organizations have is the predictability of their sales forecasts.
The Bottom Line
Everyone of these myths is supported by the desire to find a shortcut. The reality is that great salespeople are made – they are not born. This is true for great selling organizations as well. Going forward good is no longer good enough, and the only sustainable strategy is to be great at what you do. The sooner you give up on finding the shortcuts, the sooner you’ll get to experience the rewards of great.