« Year of the Intelligent Organization | Main | Yet Another List of 7 »

Silver Bullets

So, let me state from the start that this is not going to have any reference to Coors Light, Super Bowl advertising, or the Swedish Bikini team. So, if you ended up here after conducting a search for those topics I am sorry to disappoint you.

Over the summer the Harvard Business Review published some research conducted by the Forum Corporation that I found pretty interesting. Both of these organizations are highly trustworthy, which makes the findings all that much more impactful. This is not always the case with research published by some companies that conveniently includes some angle that supports the marketing and sales of their products.

One of the studies polled business representatives on their opinions regarding the sales professionals from their vendors. The results are not all that flattering and include a list of the biggest complaints regarding these sales professionals. The top issues are listed below:
- 26% don’t follow my company’s buying process
- 18% don’t listen to my needs
- 17% Don’t follow up
- 12% Are pushy, aggressive, disrespectful

Well, these are not results to be proud of, and this is not to say that there are not really good sales folks out there. But, when we choose to ask, what the factors are that cause dissatisfaction or for deals to fail, we now have a better understanding of what goes wrong.

Combine this with the results of a second study published in the same issue that examines salesforce performance from the perspective of internal executives’ point of view, and things get more interesting. When senior executives were asked what factors out of a list of 16 were most influential in contributing to sales effectiveness, no factor or even category of factors were prominent. The conclusion from the study’s authors was simply that many things go into making a salesforce successful.

Out to Pasture

My conclusion is the following – there is no silver bullet, and it is definitely not technology. Many factors must be in place for a sales team to perform well. These include a wide variety of dimensions including sales management competence, adequate processes, sufficient remuneration, positive organizational climate, and the right sales tools (which includes salesforce automation software). While it can help with better follow up, no software is going to help a sales rep follow the customer’s buying process better (most likely it will do the opposite) and it certainly won’t make the sales rep less pushy or a better listener.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)