I came across a recent article on CBSnews.com which explores 8 crucial skills for sales people (opens in a new tab). Take a read of the article and see if you agree.
My experiences of working with many salesforces across the world indicate that this is a pretty good check list. For me though, the most important one is the need for thorough planning. All of the other skills are underpinned by this. It is often the case that, even when a good sales process exists, salespeople see account and call planning as, at best, a necessary evil or, at worst, a total waste of time. Many know that it should be done. Many know it delivers better call outcomes. Yet they still resist. So why is this?
There are many reasons why this might be the case.
1. Managers don’t see it as a valuable activity. It is perceived that time spent planning is ‘office time’ and detracts from time spent face to face with the potential customer.
2. Sales processes are so complex that the planning process really is time-consuming and adds little value.
3. The CRM system (assuming there is one) does not reflect the sales process. Salespeople feel that they are going through an admin exercise of box filling and ticking.
4. Individual salespeople feel that they don’t need to plan. They’ve been in the industry for so long that they can ‘wing it’.
5. Because they have never planned effectively, salespeople have never seen the difference in the result they get when they do.
During our training programmes we have heard every reason under the sun for not spending time planning. However, most of these all come back to the first point above. Managers don’t see the value. In businesses where sales call planning is a natural way of life, managers are actively involved in the planning. They review it, and use it, as part of their metrics.
When combined with regular sales call coaching, the other crucial skills mentioned in the CBS article will all start to be a natural part of the sales call.
Our sales courses all contain sessions on account and sales call planning. Contact us for more details.