Over the past couple of years, a recurring theme has popped up at conferences for sales and sales enablement leaders. The main theme: growth is attainable, but sales performance is on a continual decline. Here’s the rub – everyone seems to be scrambling for the tool or missing piece that can take their team to the sales promise land.
This is probably why the latest productivity tools are so hot, with the latest AI tools at the top of the list. It seems like everyone is interested in leveraging AI to read the prospect’s mind.
There are now over 3,000 sales and productivity tools on the market, and the number grows each and every year, with each one claiming they have cracked the code. Everyone, it appears, is looking for something to make it easier to sell – and more power to them.
Selling is hard and any edge you can get is worth pursuing.
But here’s the truth about selling – There is no secret sauce, silver bullet, magic fairy dust (choose your favorite metaphor) to mastering the profession.
Make no mistake, we’re a big fan of the tools, pro tips, insights, and anything that will make it easier to sell. Our company has invested heavily in tools. But just like learning to play golf or the violin, there’s a defined set of capabilities sellers need to succeed. There are no shortcuts.
If a golfer struggles to hit the ball in the fairway, yes buy them the latest driver but rigorous practice is required to fix their swing.
As long as sellers are talking to customers, there is no shortcut to mastering the art of influence.
So this begs the question, what’s the most effective strategy for developing a seller’s capabilities?
Is it delivering real-time micro-learning to your team? Nope.
Here’s what we’ve learned from 20 years of research, conducting control group studies, and analyzing the highest-performing organizations – If you want to change performance there is nothing more effective than focusing on your front-line sales leader.
Training, micro-learning, and productivity tools are all critical to improving performance but nothing has more impact than the leader/coach. The leader drives the culture and engagement and is the key to developing the seller’s competency.
Simply put…change happens one to one and not in a workshop.
I know this idea on face value, isn’t revolutionary. You’re probably a big believer in coaching. You love the whole coaching movement. Almost every organization I’ve worked with supports the ideas.
But then I spend some time on the field and ask a few questions:
- When was the last time your manager rode with you?
- After a “coaching session,” what’s the plan to build a new skill set?
- How are you measuring a seller’s competency level? Engagement level?
- What are the sellers’ personal development goals?
Bring these up in a room full of sales leaders and you will inevitably get blank stares.
Most coaching sessions are really management meetings or strategy sessions. They are discussions about what went wrong, what went right, what’s the plan to win or how do the numbers look?
Even if it’s an incredibly collaborative exchange where the seller successfully diagnoses opportunities for improvement, nothing changes without practice. And honestly, even the best rep can’t accurately assess their abilities without another set of eyes.
My point – Effective coaching takes time and most organizations are still looking for a quick fix.
The best tool in the hands of an incompetent rep will yield very little. To learn to “play”, we all need a coach to help us see our blind spots, encourage us, challenge us, and continually support the skill development process.
No judgment, I get it. Our organization struggles with coaching on a regular basis and when we fail to make it a priority, performance suffers.
If you want to change performance, ask yourself, are front-line leaders the number one priority? If you sense a shift is needed, maybe we can help.
Leadership Assessment With ASLAN
There is no denying that change is hard, and enacting change as a sales leader can seem like a tall task. Like the old G.I. Joe saying “knowing is half the battle.” When you understand which areas you need to focus on, driving change becomes much easier. For those who complete the assessment and then don’t know what to do next, we are here to help.
ASLAN has spent the last three decades working with sales organizations across the globe. We know the challenges you face as a sales leader, and we want to help you and your team. Our Catalyst™ and QuadCoaching™ programs are a great starting point, but they aren’t for everyone. We take a radically different approach, but the results speak for themselves.
Feel free to explore the different programs, and ASLAN’s unique approach to sales leadership training and see if it makes sense for a deeper discussion.