Monthly Archives: April 2015

Selling Without Supervison

Sometimes I wonder the hell managers are thinking.  Did I say that out loud?  Well, it’s true, and when I read survey results such as those I’m going to share with you, my wonderment moves towards serious concern.  Today’s bit of business insanity is about salespeople.  I love salespeople, particularly since I spent many years being one.  One thing in which we prided ourselves was knowing the product.  It wasn’t just knowing the ratings history (we sold TV) or the nuances of the talent and event coverage.  We also knew the competitive landscape and could discuss it in detail.  Most importantly, we were grilled on it by managers and went over it in sales meetings.  At times there were even external sales training sessions to reinforce our listening and presentation skills and to help us better understand our individual selling styles. I still have some of those materials since that’s the sort of stuff that doesn’t get supplanted by new technology!

That’s a roundabout way of preparing you for the survey results.  I’ll let the press release speak for itself:

Corporate Visions, Inc… today announced the results of a sales messaging survey that polled more than 500 business-to-business (B2B) marketers and salespeople from around the globe. The results revealed 85 percent of companies agree their sales teams’ ability to articulate value messages is one of the most critical factors in closing deals, yet only about 41 percent of companies ask their salespeople to perform stand-and-deliver or role-play practice of their messages. In fact, an alarming 34 percent of respondents indicate no one is responsible for coaching and certifying that salespeople are proficient in delivering their company’s value messages at all.

I wonder if as media is moving more towards a programmatic future, an emphasis on sales competency has gone out the window.  That’s ridiculous.  Maybe the nature of sales will change and what’s being sold isn’t the medium but the platform. I can’t believe, however, that the educated, informed salesperson won’t continue to have an edge over the person who stands before a potential customer just flapping their lips and saying nothing.

Can you imagine a manufacturing company where no one is responsible for product quality?  Why should a third of sales organizations be permitted to shrug their shoulders about that issue and let salespeople say whatever they choose without supervision?  Putting aside the potential legal risks, we only get so many chances with buyers.  Superior selling organizations make sure their people understand the product, know the research (not just the talking points) and deliver it clearly every time.

Do you share my wonderment at companies that do otherwise?

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Filed under Consulting, Huh?


I have rivers on my mind today.  Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time over the last couple of days talking about streams of information and of video.  The nature of media these days is that we’re on a mostly self-directed rafting trip immersed in these streams.  Except that they’re really rivers since “streams” speaks to something much smaller than the torrents of content with which we deal every day.

Coincidentally, I came across something in the Phi Beta Kappa blog that resonated on both the nature of our content world and our business world:

It was the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said that you can’t step into the same river twice, giving us a memorable illustration of the principle that things change. The very nature of things is change.

Amen.  I’m not the only one to have written about FOMO – the fear of missing out on something changing in your social or other streams because it happened while you weren’t paying attention.  There are lots of tools available to assure that doesn’t happen by sending you alerts when a significant person posts or an important bit of data comes to pass.  Nevertheless, I’m sure many of us feel a need to dip our toe in the river constantly, both to stay in touch as well as to take the temperature.

It’s more the change that occurs in business which is my focus.  I laugh when people talk about five-year plans.  Where were your video marketing plans back in 2010?  How about mobile?  Is what you’re doing today what you contemplated then?  I doubt it.  That’s not a complaint; it’s a recognition that the river keeps flowing and the water you photographed when you did your strategic plan is long gone by the time you’re ready to implement it.

Keep the notion of a river in mind as you approach business.  While it runs within the same banks it’s never exactly the same.  You need to embrace that flow and learn how to swim with a changing current.  There is a reason that so many songs and literary works deal with rivers as central to a community and to life.  How you deal with it is the difference between a wonderfully exciting ride or drowning.  Your call!

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Filed under Thinking Aloud

The Delusion Gap

Some mornings as I’m writing this I feel like I’m Chevy Chase reading the news that Generalissmo Francisco Franco is still dead because so much of what crosses my digital desk as news is just so “duh.”  When I read about the latest report out of the folks at IBM and Econsultancy called The Consumer Conversation Report I really did say “and Franco is still dead” out loud.  Here is why.

There is a huge gap between marketers’ intentions and their customers‘ satisfaction.  As the report says:

A common theme throughout this research is that brands’ belief in the strength of their customer experience doesn’t line up with their customers’ reality.

For example:

  • Only one in three consumers believe that their favorite companies understand them.
  • Of those consumers who switched consumer services in the last year, most did so for reasons companies should be able to predict and prevent.
  • Of the nearly 50% of consumers with a significant service issue in the last 12 months, only 28% say that the company dealt with it very effectively.

That’s a pretty important point.  We can’t pat ourselves on the back in business.  Our partners and customers are only ones who can do that for us and in this case they’re telling us something very different.  When 90% of the responding companies felt they were able to resolve customer conflicts in a satisfactory manner and not even 60% of customers felt the same way, there is a problem.  Let’s call it the delusion gap – the space in between our beliefs and those of our customers.  We all know that anger and frustration lie in the gap between expectations and experiences.  I’d suggest that the delusion gap is a direct corollary to that difference.

We need to use all of the data we gather to develop honest answers.  They might not be the ones we want to hear but they’re the beacons that point us to serving our constituencies better.  If two-thirds of those groups believe we don’t understand them and we believe otherwise, someone is delusional.  You?

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Filed under Reality checks