In the spirit of always keeping up with new ways to continuously help our members grow, I’ve been investigating a plethora of new high tech, start-up, venture funded, industry experienced, revenue producing, can’t miss technologies for sales departments. Going through this exhausting and confusing exercise made me pause and reflect…
Why do organizations put so many resources against product development, but yet so few against talent development?
How much do sales teams spend on mobile phone bills and off-site meetings versus helping their sales leadership team become better coaches?
Why do people get promoted to management without an understanding of the activities and behaviors that drive results?
While most of the technologies I reviewed are likely worthy and can assist in providing information that can lead to better decisions, none of them are focused on improved coaching behaviors. For example, one can implement new technology that helps them understand and provide insights to cases in a sales pipeline. You can accurately see where sales are progressing and stalling. What one might learn is that deals are getting stuck at the decision making stage in a sales process, which may indicate that a rep may not have identified all the proper decision makers, which would also indicate the rep isn’t likely conducting the best needs analysis prior to getting to the proposal stage. The message to the sales manager… Go help your rep improve in those areas!
In the above scenario, is it a sales rep issue or a sales leadership issue? Great sales leaders would take full accountability and responsibility, for they understand the performance of anyone on their team is a reflection of how they coach those on their team. The challenge is that without the proper behaviors and tools, a sales manager won't likely know how to impact what was described in the previous paragraph. And, what our research shows is that most sales managers would respond by taking a more active role in the sales process, as opposed to effectively helping the rep improve in those identified areas.
So, data is insignificant without knowledge of how to affect those from whom the data is derived. Likewise, great coaches won’t know where and how to coach without accurate, meaningful data. (here is where I shamelessly plug our Sales Coaching Summit for those who want to improve the way they coach.)http://www.ecsellinstitute.com/sales-coaching-summit-fall-2012?&t=65280
Conclusion: Emphasize not just technology and data, but how to improve coaching behaviors that impact the numbers. Understand that improving and hence, growing sales, is a journey and not a destination. At no time would a sales leader ever think they’ve done all they can do from a technology stand point, and similarly one should never hit a point where they say “we’re done growing our coaching skills”.
Lastly, remember the timeless phrase “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten”. Make sure there are resources and best practices dedicated to grow in technology and human behavior—not just one!