There can be no doubt that "attitude" is fundemental to sales success - as someone once very famously said, "Attitude, that small thing that makes such a big difference" In fact, it is no coincidence that the following equation, Attitude + Skills + Process + Knowledge = Success, always begins with "attitude."
However, today, I also wish to highlight the importance that process can play in maintaining high levels of sales team morale ...
The reality is that when their efforts don't pay off immediately, even experienced salespeople tend to become discouraged. They spend more and more time struggling to meet their sales quotas and working less and less efficiently.
Feeling increasingly powerless to influence prospects, they may also begin to press for a sale in ineffective ways - for instance, by arranging formal product presentations to prospects that they have not even qualified or who haven't yet agreed that they need the solution. They allow prospects to milk them for information without getting a commensurate commitment first - and even worse, they fail to defend margin and make unprofitable sales in order to achieve quotas.
The details of what goes wrong differs for each individual salesperson but the net result is always the same, a discouraged sales force, diminished sales efficiency (i.e. wasted investment of sales time and resources that fail to produce high quality sales) and, consequently, increased cost of sales which inevitably drastically reduces net profit.
What's the bottom line? Sales never result efficiently and with maximum revenue unless the sales process is continually and closely managed. But before the sales process can be managed, it must be manageable.
The Sales Transformation Survey by Accenture a few years ago, confirmed that a critical need today is to move a sales force away from its traditional focus on selling individual products and services and move it towards selling complete solutions or "Preferred Supplier Agreements" - effectively locking in key customers.
Such a strategy can lead to a higher level of engagement with important customers. Yet, 68% of executives said that their salespeople were not adequately skilled to take this step up nor were they sufficiently focused on solution selling but far too focused on selling "commodities" i.e. the one-off sale.
From the Sales Director's perspective, developing a consultative sales process means developing a comprehensive, formal, realistic and step-by-step outline of what salespeople are expected to do. This is just as appropriate for internal and totally reactive sales teams as it is for external pro-active ones. This outline includes the activity and calls they must make, the relationships they should establish with prospects, the documentation they should use in sales calls, the issues they must discuss and resolve with prospects and the tangible goals they must achieve in sequence along the path to each sale, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness.
It's only when such an outline is in place that sales management can be in a position to:
Monitor the sales force's activity, progress and results,
Assess issues as they arise and take appropriate action,
Redirect individual sales representatives' efforts efficiently.
Although many organisations appreciate the importance of being customer-focused and talk in vague terms about their "consultative sales process", surprisingly few sales leaders invest the time and energy required to develop a formal sales process - a process that is at once detailed and resilient enough to guide their salespeople and permit effective management of their efforts.
As a consequence, left to their own devices, frontline sales professionals can easily become discouraged, and performance levels dip.
This is just one of a number of critical sales leadership tasks - ensuring that every single member of the team is consistently performing at "optimum performance levels."