Sales training is more than 100 years old. With few exceptions, it's not very sexy. Many salespeople believe (PDF) they've been through enough of it to last a lifetime. For many reasons, most of their managers don't see any value, so they take a tactical, event-based approach just to check the "trained my people this year" box.
On the other hand, Sales 2.0* is sexy. It's new. There are terrific, proven, Sales 2.0 solutions that can support the sales and marketing function in being more efficient and effective. There are also enough white papers, advertisements, websites, articles, blog posts, conferences, books, tweets, strategies, tips, definitions, claims, approaches, experts, studies and hype to confuse any sales leader who is wondering how to come out the other side of this terrible economic situation. The promise of success from this Sales 2.0 wave is overwhelming.
What should you do?
First let me state that ESR doesn't sell sales training or Sales 2.0 applications. We sell independent research and informed advice.
As an objective observer, let me suggest a simple way to assess your situation: Neither sales training nor Sales 2.0 will deliver any real, long-term value (measured in any number of ways: more sales, more profitable sales, bigger sales, shorter sales cycles, etc.) unless you have the right people and processes in place first. (Hopefully this isn't the first time you're hearing this.)
Tens of thousands of companies invested in CRM, skipping one or both of those two critical success factors. That's why something like only one in six companies claim their CRM systems are contributing to their selling efforts. And how about this: less than two in ten companies get sustainable, predictable performance improvement out of sales training!
If we invest in Sales 2.0 solutions without the proper foundations in place we aren't just going down that same road? You bet.
Do you have the right people selling for you? If not, start fixing that right away. Is there isn't broad compliance across your team with the use of a flexible, pragmatic sales methodology? If not, get that in place. (The foundation of the methodology should be based on the current and expected attributes of the markets you are selling into and the buying preferences and tendencies of your customers, e.g. if your buyers use Twitter to communicate with their suppliers, that capability should be built into your methodology...)
Spend your money on people and process first. Then tools. Sales 2.0 isn't a shortcut or a replacement for those or other critical, foundation components of a sales infrastructure. Neither is tactical, single event-based training.
One more time, listed in the right order: (This is only a partial list for purposes of illustration.)
- Get the right people on board;
- Build or rebuild a flexible, pragmatic buyer-centric sales methodology;
- Train your team on the methodology;
- Then, provide them with the right Sales 2.0 tools to make them more effective and efficient in use of the methodology.
Tell me where I'm wrong or off base about this.
* Sales 2.0 is a registered trademark of Sales 2.0 LLC
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