The single most significant insight I have had recently is that measuring and then developing sales people’s strengths will help me understand whether they can sell BUT understanding their weaknesses and minimising their impact will confirm if in fact they will sell? Just stop and think about that statement for a second and it should resonate with your personal experiences.
This is especially true when it comes to the people that affect the daily activities and focus of salespeople and that is typically their Sales Manager/Director. The direct manager of any salesperson naturally sees the world through their own filtered perspective and this multiplies the affect of sales weaknesses. This multiplier affect can be disastrous for the CEO/Business owner, especially if it continues to happen without everyone being aware of it!
This is not isolated to some sales people or some industries, it has been confirmed from working with literally thousands of salespeople from a huge variety of industries and all walks of life.
Let’s stop for a moment and consider whom these sales weaknesses ultimately impact the most.Understanding the significant impact of sales weaknesses and the Sales Manager combination is what has recently enabled me to provide substantially better advise to the people that are actually affected the most – the CEOs, National Managers and Business Owners. These are the people who can’t just quit and get a job somewhere else. They have a personal stake in the organisations success and any failure will directly affect either their long-term income, their reputation and possibly even more directly, their personal financial position. Ultimately any salesperson or Sales Manager that fails to limit the impact of their selling weaknesses is doomed to repeat their mistakes and everyone suffers.
What Weaknesses Impact the Most?
Whilst there are a multitude of factors that can indirectly and directly impact the behaviour of salespeople, there are a few categories that appear to have the greatest affect. As an example, a salesperson may have great communication skills but a tendency to become too emotionally involved and this often results in them losing their perspective and destroying the sale. They might have great rapport building skills and then not have the courage or desire to ask for the business because they are fearful of rejection. These critical weaknesses in their sales skills are the difference between being able to sell but then not actually being successful at doing it profitably and consistently.
Gaining an Objective Assessment
Through my relationship and training with the Objective Management Group, I have been able to secure an objective assessment of my client’s sales teams. This takes place as part of reviewing their sales force’s alignment to the organisations systems, process and strategies and what frequently shows up is the following 5 key areas of major sales weakness;
- the inability to control their emotions
- self limiting belief systems
- having a non-supportive buying cycle
- issues around money and wealth
- the need for approval
I will delve more into each of these key areas of sales weaknesses in future articles as I believe understanding them better will prove to be extremely valuable.
How Does This Get Multiplied by Sales Management?
Imagine you knew a Sales Manager whom normally shops around to get the best price (especially because they don’t trust salespeople). Their personal perspective (sales weaknesses) will directly impact on how they manage their entire sales team. They expect that it will take several appointments to close any deal (after all, they would shop around!) so they are far more likely to accept their team’s excuses for not closing. They expect that a salesperson will fold when pressured for a discount (that has been their experience) and their negative inner view of sales people in general will affect the outlook and energy of their whole team. In short, they are the main problem and when we evaluate them in the context of the whole sales process, they negatively impact on business profitability more than most believe possible at first!
I am sure we have all met or maybe even worked with someone like this?! Sales Managers are often keen to have their team assessed but they rarely want to admit that they are part of the problem. They are happy for the typical psycho-graphic style assessments to be done but don’t want to have the mirror held up to them. Sales management skills are different to their sales skills and both need to be assessed independently to see if they are what the team needs to be successful. That is why I typically consult directly with the executive level of management. Occasionally I come across an emotionally secure, professional and proactive Sales Manager who wants to know the truth and they benefit enormously from the insights they receive from completing the objective assessment process.
What Can I Do About It Now?
If you want to know more about limiting the impact of the sales weaknesses, stop and think about how you buy and what behaviours you have that you would not like to see in your clients? Do you feel the need to carefully think over every buying decision or do you act too impulsively? Do you need to be liked by everyone you sell to? Do you talk about yourself and your achievements during appointments sending the message that you need to be validated somehow? If you are selling multi-million dollar solutions, does it affect how you think and act (especially if you could not afford to buy one of them yourself)? If someone else is getting better results than you, what do they believe, how do they behave and what else can you learn from them? Are you willing to admit to your weaknesses and start limiting their impact on your sales success?
Feedback and Comments
Do you know someone who has great potential but their sales weaknesses keep them from actually selling successfully? Do you know of a Sales Manager who is having a negative multiplier affect on their sales teams performance? As always, your thoughts and feedback are valued. You can choose to comment anonymously if you wish. Feel free to ask more questions if this is an area that you know would improve your professional selling skills.