I was having work done to the exterior of my car the week before last. While there I struck up an interesting conversation with the owner of the company doing the work.
I expressed an interest in how the company produced the quality of work for which they were known. With excitement, he invited me back to his shop to watch a car run through his facility.
The process this organization implemented for doing their work fascinated me. Every step in the process was logical and clearly defined. Each department and individual had assigned responsibilities; each executed their part of the process with exacting precision. The result was flawless work.
The Sales Revolving Door
The owner bragged quality work is why he was able to provide an unconditional guarantee for his company's work. As we walked back to the waiting area, the conversation turned to sales. He told me he had three sales people: One who had been with him for eight years, the other two he described as part of the "sales revolving door."
When I asked what he meant, he told me that besides his one successful guy, he couldn't keep salespeople. He estimated he had run through at least two-dozen salespeople in the last eight years. Being curious, I asked about turnover in his shop. He told me he hadn't lost a person in over three years. Hmmm.
So, I'm talking with this successful business owner where employee turnover in his shop was dramatically lower than in his sales department. The obvious question was, "Why?" His response, "Good sales people are impossible to find. The people I find simply can't produce." My response? "It may not be a people problem. I'm curious, what PROCESS do your sales people use to sell?" After a few seconds of blank staring he responded, "I have no earthly idea."
How People View Selling
Here we have a business owner obsessed with process when it came to his production facility. However, when it came to selling, nothing.
He left it up to his reps to determine how they sold. It was completely random. The excellent results for his production facility were by design. The failure of his sales organization was a lack of an established sales process.
It should be no surprise that CSO Insights' Sales Management Report shows that among sales organizations surveyed, only 44.8% of reps in organizations using random sales processes make their quota.
Business owners like the one referenced in this blog have to change the way they view selling. Just like any other aspect of their business, the process for selling has to be clearly defined.
The same obsessive approach to process applied to production, accounting, or inventory control has to be applied to the sales organization. If they don't, they'll continue to live with low sales production and high turnover.
Bob Nicols has 34 years of experience in sales, sales management, executive management and sales force development. He founded Burton Training Group, now AXIOM Sales Force Development, in 1990 after being a top and highly recognized performer in sales, sales management and executive positions within the technology sector. He has managed and mentored thousands of sales people, sales managers and senior managers and been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. For more than 21 years he has developed and delivered sales programs that have become the standard for many Fortune 100 companies including AT&T, BellSouth, Disney Enterprises, Alltel, Verizon and ESPN. AXIOM programs have been implemented in over 30 countries including Japan, the UK, Germany, Dubai, Brazil, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Slovakia, Sweden, and The Netherlands. Bob's highly energetic and insightful lectures and workshops have resulted in invitations to be a featured presenter at dozens of national and international sales meetings and conferences. He is a trusted advisor to the presidents and senior managers of multiple organizations, both large and small and has been a board member of a national technology company. Bob is the developer of AXIOM's “Selling Sciences ProgramTM” and co-author of the “Selling Sciences” CD series.