Recently I had the opportunity to talk about how challenging and complex modern sales has become for both the sales rep and his or her customers with three true sales experts:
1 - Jill Konrath, Speaker and Author, Jill Konrath Companies
2 - Brent Adamson, Author, The Challenger Sale
3 - Nick Toman, Head of the Sales Leadership Council at CEB
We had a very interesting conversation discussing not just how sales is more complex but also what sellers and sales leaders can do to make things better.
The roundtable was divided into three different sections:
Part 1: Complexity for the Sales Rep
Part 2: Complexity on the Customer Side
Part 3: Practical Tips for Overcoming Complexity
It is an important topic because complexity impacts productivity AND productivity impacts profit.
Sellers are spending 40% of their day on non-sales related work. There are ways to help them streamline and pick up an hour or two per day by changing how they work, according to Jill Konrath.
I’d like ask everyone to stop saying how BUSY they are – and instead talk about how productive they have been. It is a simple idea that, when spoken by leadership, makes an impact. It’s not how busy you are but rather whether you are working on all those things that lead to helping your buyers and ultimately generating revenue.
In this “Age of distraction” one of the comments made by Brent Adamson in his keynote at the CEB Sales and Marketing conference was, “It’s hard to be a seller”.
One of the things that Nick Toman talked about is the “Flywheel effect” – within the sales rep’s world we add more tools for support and people to the equation and it compounds complexity. CEB’s research shows that it now take 4.3 colleagues internally to help navigate a deal to closure. 8.5 technologies are typically involved. The average seller has 340 “support touchpoints” in a given month to get their job done.
What do you do when the support we provide makes things more complex?
Leaders look at sales reps and see they are struggling – they say, “they must not be cut out for this” – as if it is an individual skill issue.
This conversation based on much research shows that it’s not just about learning about your buyer and your products and services. It’s about learning how to navigate your company and all of your buyers’ companies as well.
- Sales rep as Project Manager
- Sales rep as Detective
- Sales rep as Communicator
- Sales rep as Analyst
- Sales rep as Negotiator
Of course, this means that new sellers have bug ramp up times to attain skill in all of these.
Let me know how you like the audio segments and if you can relate.
Lori Richardson helps mid-sized companies grow revenues by solving key issues in their sales department - like recruiting, retention, diversity hiring, process, pipeline and leadership. She speaks at CEO groups on topics of sales growth. Clients include companies in the technology, telecom, manufacturing, distribution, and professional services industries. Subscribe to the award-winning blog, follow her on Twitter
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