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?