We—or rather my wife—had an incident the other day. We have a housekeeper that comes into our house once a week. Recently, our housekeeper told my wife, “I really don’t like what I have to do here. You have too many bathrooms, I only want to clean one—or I’d love not to clean any. I don’t like dusting the high spots on your shelves or the high ceilings. And I can’t stand picking up all of Dave’s stuff! I’ve decided to focus on the things I really like—I like cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming. By the way, I would like you to pay me more, it’s been six months since you gave me a raise…..”
Reading this, you probably are aghast. You are thinking, “This is unreasonable. The housekeeper can’t just pick and choose what he wants to do. He needs to do the whole job!” (Yeah, a few of you are probably siding with him on my picking up my stuff, Kookie has already put me on a performance improvement plan.)
I share this story, because I see the same thing happening with too many sales people. Explicitly or implicitly too many do only part of the job. It’s the parts they enjoy the most, or what, out of habit, they have always done.
It may be calling on our favorite customers—the ones we always have done business with and have relationships with, even if they have no current requirements, we keep “touching base,” maintaining the relationships. If organizations are to grow, we have to acquire new customers—within our existing accounts or net new logos.
It may be selling the same product, because that’s the one we’ve had the most success with, while ignoring the entire product portfolio for which we have the responsibility to sell. The company business strategy is based on the entire product portfolio, not just part of it.
It may be prospecting avoidance for any number of reasons: “That’s the SDRs job, I can’t get them to respond, I’ll focus on the people I’ve worked with before…” At the same time, their pipelines are empty.
Or the one I hear too often, “My job is to focus on deals, I don’t have time for all this account/territory planning or pipeline/forecasting stuff…”
Or, I don’t have time to plan my deals or my calls, I’m experienced, I can just shoot from the hip.
The problem is, we can’t just do a part of the job, we have to do the whole job; that is if we have any hope/drive to achieve our goals, or perhaps, take home fat commission checks.
If we aren’t continually prospecting, our pipelines will empty out and we don’t have any more deals. Territory and account planning focus/structure our prospecting efforts to produce the best results. Pipelines help us understand whether we are doing enough to achieve our goals. They help us understand how many deals, how much prospecting, and so forth. Planning and executing high impact calls is the way we maximize our impact in prospecting and helping buyers move deals through their buying process.
All of these “pieces/parts” are critical to the job of sales person, account manager, BDM, or whatever label we apply to ourselves. Focusing on just one part—the easiest, the one we have the most fun doing, inevitably leads us to failure. Each part of our job is interconnected with the others parts of our job. Failing to do all of them in the right balance means failure—period!
The blame for this just doesn’t lie with sales people. Too often, manager fixate on just one part—to a fault. They don’t look at how sales people are balancing their time across all the things sales people need to do for success. Instead they tend to shift priorities almost daily.
“We need to make our numbers for the end of the year—focus on closing all the deals in your pipeline! See what you can move into closing this month/quarter/year! Don’t do anything else!”
But when the pipelines are drained, “You need to be prospecting, you need to be finding more deals, I want to see you having 50 prospecting conversations a day!”
Or, “Management is beating me up. We aren’t selling enough of the brand new strategic product we launched last quarter, we need to find more deals for that, build that into your current deals, go find new deals for the product…”
The focus shifts based on the crisis du jour, as a result, there is often a flurry of effort, but starts/stops and huge wastes of productivity.
High performing organizations are very different. First, there are fewer crises, most have a solid/balanced cadence that drive performance and growth. They recognize the destructiveness of constant shifts in focus and priorities. They realize that complex B2B sales can’t be driven through starts and stops. They balance long term change initiatives with what their people need to be doing for short term results. Every sales person knows their job—the whole job.
High performance sales is always about doing the whole job, all the time. It’s a balanced cadence, executed consistently, week after week.
Afterword: Some people struggle with understanding all the pieces/parts of Sales Execution, and how they fit together. We’ve created the Sales Execution Framework/Ecosystem to help understand each part and how they interact with the others. Email me at dabrock at excellenc.com. I’ll be glad to send you a free copy!