Why Sales Transformation May be Your Easiest and Most Meaningful Initiative Ever

These days many people cringe at the thought of a transformation project. After trying or surviving digital transformation, cultural transformation, business process transformation, and organizational transformation, does anyone really want to endure another transformation project?

The very word transformation implies difficulty. Oxford languages defines transformation as “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” It is in essence a 180° turn from what we do and how we do something today. Sounds overwhelming, exhausting.

But imagine how that changes if what we do now, and how we do it today, is actually the hard way? What if today we are swimming upstream, or for my cycling friends, we are riding into a strong headwind. If that’s the case, this “transformation” or 180° turn is actually going to have us going with the flow. It’s going to make our lives easier and allow us to move at a significantly faster pace. For most companies, that is exactly what sales transformation is about. 

Today, most sales organizations are actually fighting against the natural flow in three very important ways.

Sellers and Buyers Have Competing Objectives

First, when it comes to how salespeople engage with buyers, the approach generally has buyers and sellers at odds, with different and sometimes even competing objectives. This creates tremendous friction and tension that reduces the pace and undermines effectiveness. Here’s a simple example to illustrate the point. When it comes time to present a recommendation, most salespeople have a singular objective – to convince the buyer to select their solution. However, most buyers have a very different objective – to figure out what is best for them. This difference in objectives often causes buyers to shut down, to withhold information about what they really think about our solution, making it even more difficult for salespeople to achieve their objective.

However, something magical happens when salespeople abandon their objective of winning a sale and instead embrace the buyer’s objective of determining what’s best for the buyer. Buyers open up and share more information, allowing for a more productive and candid conversation. Issues can be discussed and often properly addressed. If the solution really is right for the buyer, the two parties can figure that out together in a more efficient and relaxed way. If it isn’t right, the seller wastes less time on an opportunity that they will not win anyway.

That’s just one example, but throughout the typical buyer-seller journey there are many more opportunities to transform the engagement in ways that radically improve results while reducing effort.

Training Events Don’t Align With How People Learn

Now let’s move to the second major way in which sales organizations are typically fighting against the natural flow – how people learn. In most organizations, implementing a new sales methodology, improving the team’s skill in a particular area, or preparing them to sell a new solution is accomplished primarily through training events. To be sure, these are more often virtual than they used to be, and more often on-demand than they once were. However, they are still events in that salespeople are presented with content that they are then expected to consume and apply. While there may be considerable effort put forth to make the experience pleasant and the content engaging, this approach is actually contrary to how people develop skills and apply knowledge.

The learning cycle for acquiring a new skill or becoming incremental more proficient with an existing skill is actually well understood and documented. For our purposes here, we will use the Learn, Practice, Apply, Evaluate or LPAE model. For each new skill to take hold and become a part of the salesperson’s toolkit, they must complete the full cycle. However, each cycle also requires sleep, which is where our minds actually do much of the work associated with learning. So, we cannot stack multiple skills on top of one another in a two-day or three-day training session and expect anyone to get good at them. In fact, those people who do acquire new skills after attending this type of event generally don’t do it because of the event, they do it in spite of the event. Believe me, I know. We spent two decades training salespeople in traditional training classes before numerous studies conducted on our behalf by Western Michigan University’s Evaluation Center with our clients made clear, people who were using what they learned were acquiring the skills after class by breaking the learning down into small pieces that they would develop one at a time.

So, a radical transformation in how we train and develop salespeople would be to abandon traditional sales training classes in favor of a model where everyone on the team is expected to acquire or further develop a new skill every week, as a standard part of what they do. Instead of putting people in classes once or twice a year and overwhelming them with more than they can digest or apply, they would become comfortable at developing a new skill or acquiring new knowledge on a regular cadence. When it comes to skills associated with a sales methodology initiative, this can dramatically increase adoption and impact. Instead of 20% adoption of new skills, this approach, has allowed some organizations to achieve 80% adoption. Not only is it more effective, but it’s also dramatically easier to execute as scheduling hassles are significantly reduced.

Managers Provide Feedback Instead of Coaching

The third area in which most sales organizations are fighting against a strong headwind is in how managers interact with sellers. Unfortunately, this topic requires a more in-depth exploration than we have space for in this article. But not to worry, if you’d like to read more about transforming managers into exceptional coaches, simply click here to download our free Guide to Sales Coaching. This brief paper will show you how transforming the way companies set sales goals and how managers interact with sellers can drive continuous improvement and dramatically better results, with considerably less stress.

While it’s true that a transformation requires effort, anyone who has turned to downstream after paddling against a river’s flow or turned downwind after pedaling into a headwind can tell you, the benefit far outweighs the effort. For most organizations this is exactly what sales transformation will be like.

Not sure sales transformation is right for your organization? You may be correct; it isn’t right or even possible for everyone. If you’d like to learn more, let’s schedule a brief call to talk about your organization. We’ll give you an honest assessment, not a sales pitch, so you can figure out if sales transformation is an initiative worth exploring in your situation.

At Axiom Sales Kinetics we’ve spent thirty years helping sales teams coach, learn, and sell more effectively. We offer a unique, mindful alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about Selling the Axiom Way, our Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at www.axiomsaleskinetics.com.

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