As I skimmed through Zite earlier today, a blog by Mark Hunter (“The Sales Hunter”) caught my attention. The headline: “Sales Motivation Video: Just Go For It! Stop Second-Guessing Yourself!” In all fairness, I don’t know Mr. Hunter. With that said, I find him to be an engaging speaker. However, based on this video, I suspect he is genuine in his desire to help salespeople.
Firstly, what struck me is the sheer volume of motivational material available to salespeople. In fact, my search for “Motivational Videos for Sales” returned 7,000+ links. Clearly, salespeople need motivation. That got me thinking! I wonder if doctors, lawyers, and other professionals are equally in need of motivation? So I did my own, albeit highly unscientific study. Here is what I found.
|Motivation Video for Sellers||With Quotes||Without Quotes|
Clearly, sellers need much more help with sales motivation than other professionals!
Professional Self-Help for Sales Motivation
Secondly, I doubt many people would be surprised to learn that salespeople, not doctors, nurses, or even lawyers, struggle with call reluctance. After all, why wouldn’t we? How many people hang up sellers? Contrarily, how often do clients no-show for meetings with their lawyer, doctor, or nurse? Relatively few, I suspect. Even I’m reluctant to talk with salespeople who call my office. Most want to enlighten me on their mind-blowing new solutions to every conceivable issue. Clearly, the sales audience needs better self-help material. I am certainly not suggesting these videos and books don’t offer dejected, beaten-down salespeople much-needed hope. Instead, what I’m suggesting is that fundamental change is needed if we are to truly transform our profession. I believe salespeople deserve the same respect other professionals enjoy AND to get paid.
Selling as a Service
However, this requires both a change in heart and a change in tactics. We all know the statistics about the power shift in buyer/seller relationships. But in case you don’t, I will illustrate the point. We don’t need salespeople telling customers about their products and services. So, does that mean, as Brian de Haaf noted in his blog “Why This CEO Will Never Hire Another Salesperson” that the entire profession is dead? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that the sales profession must evolve. Sellers must start bringing true value to their customers. It is time to cease cajoling prospects into buying things that bring little or no real value.
The future of selling is serving!
Furthermore, salespeople must possess the skill and knowledge to SERVE their prospects and customers optimally. With every engagement, one must earn respect and deliver real value. It is possible to be a good seller and earn good money ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Perhaps Brian is correct about the need for a different compensation model. Perhaps not. However, one thing is certain. When salespeople learn to help customers by leveraging expertise that brings tangible value, the battle for motivation will be at an end. Soon, call reluctance will become as outdated as overhead transparencies.
Sales Motivation: More a Journey than a Destination
Thirdly, I’d like to point out that this isn’t a simple change to make. We have a long history of training salespeople in everything from product hawking, to solution selling, to overcoming objections. Oftentimes, training actually pits sellers AGAINST the very people they serve. If I had a nickel for every time I heard an aspiring salesperson utter the phrase, “buyers are liars”… Wait, my age is showing. Anyway, we have some history to overcome. The very existence of our profession depends on our ability to transform into trusted advisors. Frankly, evolving the profession requires the same commitment to continuous learning and development as other professionals. It requires hiring the most talented people possible and ensuring that they possess key traits such as emotional intelligence and a servant’s heart.
The need for change is certainly not lost. There is a crop of new training programs for selling. Each promises everything from making your sellers more insightful to challenging customers. Another promise is to make sellers better storytellers. And while many have merit, few address the larger problem. Sales training has a very limited impact. We need to do more than simply update content. We need to transform the model for how we develop salespeople in order to transform customer engagement. Doing so results in better business.
It’s Time For a Fresh Perspective
From classroom training events to the standard Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), we need to rethink our approach. This includes taking a new look at mature technologies like CRMs. It’s vital to integrate learning and development into the cadence of how people sell and manage. Implemented properly, CRMs can enable salespeople to continuously improve. This allows sellers to compete for customers more effectively by better leveraging their ever-evolving skills and knowledge.
Naturally, this transformation comes at a cost. However, the potential payoff is tremendous if we evolve into a profession that attracts the best and brightest talent. For companies that take the lead in this transformation, there are tremendous advantages. These include better financial performance, more effective teams, lower turnover, and improved culture. Even now, some forward-thinking companies see the shift happening. Furthermore, many receive tremendous returns on their investment.
Does Anyone Really Want to Become a Salesperson?
While attending a conference at a well-known university that offers a degree in professional selling, I was reminded of how few people intend to work in sales. The speaker recounted a survey conducted on students enrolled in their introductory sales course. Can you guess what percentage of students actually intended to become sales professionals? Zero percent! Amazing, isn’t it? Surprisingly, even people taking a class on selling don’t expect to become sales professionals. And yet, a significant portion of any given graduating class will likely end up in sales. This is despite having earned a degree in other areas, such as marketing, engineering, or art history.
Lastly, it’s worth saying that, n the future, this same survey will produce dramatically different outcomes. Someday, our most talented college graduates will compete for the chance to enter sales. In fact, sales will soon be known for its ongoing learning and development, in addition to the customer service it provides. However, this means a significant reduction in the number of motivational videos and books out there. And yet, it also means an unparalleled level of trust and respect for salespersons.