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According to Ventana Research, inconsistent execution in sales process is the number one problem sales leaders are looking to solve. When Enkata looks at performance data, we consistently see wide variations in how people approach their work, from how they manage leads and potential opportunities to how broadly they go into new accounts and how they manage their territories. Some variation makes sense based on personality, tenure and the specific opportunities being worked. At the same time, there is enough variation that it’s clear that lower performing reps have things they can learn from top performers about what they can do to close more deals.
Inconsistent sales process is especially a challenge for sales organizations when they are adopting new sales methods or processes. These changes can be disruptive and even counter-productive. As part of of a new sales process roll out, organizations need to make sure they have a way to ensure that people are adopting the change. Just training people and telling them to do it simply isn’t enough. Enkata’s research has found that there are several stumbling blocks that keep people from making changes, even when those changes are critical for success in their job.
The first stumbling block is that old habits die hard. Ingrained work habits are incredibly strong, and can tell you everything from how long someone will spend in email in the morning to how many times they’ll try to contact a lead before they give up. When introducing a new process means changing old habits, the old habits win more often than not.
A second stumbling block is lack of skill. People naturally avoid situations that make them uncomfortable or unsure of themselves. If the new process requires them to do something they aren’t used to doing, they may find ways to put it off. The longer they wait, the more they’ll forget the training, and the less comfortable they’ll be with the whole change.
A final stumbling block is lack of faith. Sales people who’ve been around a while have all seen new regimes come and go when it comes to the best process to sell. They may smile and nod in the meeting, but be thinking that they already know what to do, and this new process will crash and burn like the last one.
All of these issues can be addressed. They must be addressed if the new process is going to take root and be successful. The core to solving them is visibility. Managers need to be able to know if sales people are changing, and sales people themselves need to be able to see that the new process is being adopted and in fact helping people reach their sales goals. Sales people are always looking for ways to improve their skills, close more business and make more money. If they can see how the new process supports these objectives, they’ll adopt it. But if they can’t see that, even if it’s a great idea, they’ll stay with business as usual.