This is the list I read this morning: best practices on how to increase sales success. Seems so obvious. If only I work harder, longer, and faster doing what I am already doing, everything will work out. Right? Just do it! Do more! If you are not reaching your sales goal, WORK HARDER! If you’ve not got enough time in your day, WORK FASTER! Be that guy who starts earlier than everyone, works through lunch, and stays later than everyone. Have no work/life balance. WORK LONGER and you will reach all your goals in life…. Or not.
I have significant problems with this list. It is making many assumptions I find a little insulting. First it struck me as implying sales people are lazy because clearly the reason someone does not meet their sales goal is because they don’t work hard, are slow, not a team player, go home early, or work on things that don’t matter.
Another problem I have with the list is it assumes every salesperson is doing everything correctly; that the sales process has been optimized and is working flawlessly. I don’t care how good someone is, the marketplace is constantly evolving, and if salespeople are not evolving with it, they are falling behind every single day. Working faster at what worked yesterday but not today doesn’t help anyone increase his or her sales success.
What if we try something else?
Work better using what you already have: your CRM. As I stated in Five Reasons Your Sales Forecast Will Be Wrong …Again, the problem is most salespeople would rather spend time in front of customers than behind a computer screen (which explains why studies demonstrated 70-75% of all CRM initiatives failed).
What if the only way to reach a sales goal is to change the way people behave?
According to the psychology of change management, people will only change the way they work IF they believe it is in their best interest to do so; they must think differently about their jobs. People want to develop. However, real change requires two things:
- The change must support their internal personal needs, and
- An emotional connection that triggers a change in perspective
Step One to Better Sales Practices: Commitment
The first step to increasing CRM adoption leading to sales success is commitment. I’m not talking commitment from your sales team. I am talking commitment across the board, all the way up, and all the way down. It is not enough for management to say, “You will do things differently.” Management must understand and accept the changes to how they perform as leaders and managers. To feel comfortable to commit to change, people must understand their role, the role of their actions, and believe the change is worthwhile.
Step Two to Better Sales Practices: Facilitate
You cannot motivate change, but you can facilitate it. Motivation is internal and varies on a daily basis. When motivation is high, difficult tasks become easier to perform. When motivation is low, difficult tasks become almost impossible. To compensate for motivational variances, facilitate change by making things simple.
In the 1920s and 30s, B. F. Skinner began motivation experiments on rats. He found if he rewarded rats with corn for completing a boring task, the rats could be motivated. If he punished the rats with an electric shock, it served as a deterrent. Companies began using this same methodology with sales people – pay and bonuses for jobs well done, punitive reactions for lack of sales. The problem was over time, even the rats became immune to the shocks and were bored of corn. Structures and processes alone do not facilitate change any more than corn motivates rats long-term.
To facilitate change, you have to remove the barriers that make change difficult. Blend daily activities with new behaviors that produce immediate results. In doing so, little successes become huge, and tiny habits grow naturally.
Step Three to Better Sales Practices: Believe in Small Things
What does E=mc2 have to do with motivation and sales? Hang with me for a second, and answer the following two questions:
A. The mass of a small paperclip (.03 ounces) has the energy of:
- Burning 20 gallons of gasoline
- One ton of TNT
- An atomic bomb
B. The mass of 100 pennies has just enough energy to:
- Melt a pound of lead
- Power New York State for about two days
- Power our entire world for a month
The answer to A is #3. The answer to B is #2. Now, did you know its mass determines a star’s life cycle? The greater its mass, the shorter its life cycle. My point is sometimes small things have more energy, and have a much greater long-term impact or potential impact than something much larger.
When learning is available when needed in small doses without requiring the user to go to another application, change is easier to adopt. Training, learning, coaching, and ultimately behavior change is accomplished incrementally. Focus on baby steps for long-term change.
Change is hard.
Understand the concept of “what’s in it for me.”
Small incremental change = Long-term sales success.