Recently I spoke with Lindsay (not her real name), the head of sales enablement of a market-leading organization with one of the most buttoned-up sales operations I’ve ever come across.
Lindsay’s team delivered the right content, in the right format, at the right time, for the right buyer persona and at the right stage of the buying process – so that the salesforce could maximize the effectiveness and value of their interactions with prospects and customers. Talk about slick! No wonder her organization attracts sales talent in droves.
However, there was a problem. Lindsay shared with me that even though she armed the field with all the insight and tools they could ever want and need, even very experienced and previously successful new hire sellers were not attaining quota.
I asked Lindsay what she thought was the cause of this. After jointly diagnosing, we came to the following conclusions:
- Even your most experienced salespeople can forget what made them successful in the past when they are so busy trying to learn and remember all your new company’s offerings, products and services (new information can overwrite previous knowledge and behaviors). I really identified with this, because it’s happened to me.
- Because all your new company information is top of mind, these experienced hires are too eager to share newly acquired insights and demonstrate expertise in front of your prospects and customers. They simply forget the importance of their discovery skills. Without properly understanding the needs of your clients, customer interactions will turn into “show and tell” sessions – and not create the value that your clients want and that your company can deliver.
- Sequence matters. Your salespeople need to know about their products, services and solutions. They also need to remember that it’s more important to understand your customer needs and wants first, then be able to match the appropriate solution. Lindsay’s sales enablement process assumed that experienced salespeople would automatically do discovery – when in fact they needed to be reminded of the importance after ingesting all their new company information.
As I mentioned above, I’ve certainly found this to be the case in the new roles I’ve started – and unfortunately learned the hard way. You may have, too!
So how can you avoid this?
A good solution to stop experienced new hire sellers from turning back into rookies and ”spilling their candy in the lobby,” is to top off company/product/service training with solid discovery skills training - to re-balance our natural urge to advocate before we’ve done a good job of inquiry. Even old dogs like me need a reminder now and then!
That’s what I think. What are your thoughts?