Scenario time. Let’s say you schedule a massage in your home because your back is killing you and apparently that’s just what happens when you age. You’re pretty sure a sneeze is what triggered these back problems, by the way. Getting old is hilarious…
The day of the massage arrives. But when the masseuse shows up, you spot an instant red flag: He’s not carrying anything. No table, no lotions, no oils. Nothing. (If you’re wondering what a masseuse has to do with sales enablement, carry on. This will make sense shortly.)
So, the masseuse greets you warmly and asks where your pain is. But instead of working it, he first talks for 15 minutes about the science of pain and why massage therapy is helpful. “My man,” you say. “I don’t care about this. I have pain, and I just need help with it.”
And that’s when it hits you.
The masseuse is basically an underperforming salesperson.
If a salesperson is struggling to sell, the easy explanation is that they’re not cut out for the job. That could be the case. Not everyone is cut out for it. But there’s another, more rational explanation—one that can be a lot harder for organizations to admit because it means they have to see themselves as part of the problem. Many times, an underperforming salesperson is not a bad performer. More often than not, this person is woefully underprepared and/or underequipped. The silver lining? If organizations are part of the problem, they are most definitely part of the solution!
Your sales reps need a little sales enablement in their life.
The assumption most companies make is that salespeople know what they’re doing. They believe ongoing sales training is a waste of time, especially when their team members already have some years of experience under their belts. It’s typical for sellers to complete an initial onboarding period of two weeks or so before being sent into the wild, left to their own devices and expected to perform.
Here lies the problem as consequently, most sales teams find themselves underprepared, and like Steve the masseuse, underequipped to help their customers. Sellers need more than traditional onboarding. They need more training, more coaching, more (and better) content…more enabling…
Of course, they need training when they first begin, but many professions require continuous education. And sales is no exception. If you fail to steadily invest in the development of your sales force, you should not be surprised if quotas and revenue targets are not met. Two weeks is barely enough time to start using a CRM tool correctly. If you throw your reps in the arena that quickly, they will perform like Steve the masseuse. They will do their best, use some boilerplate messaging, but they won’t be ready to address their prospects’ pain.
Prospects meeting with your salesperson are in pain of some sort. These pain points need to be effectively addressed. If they are, sales roll in. If not, sales fizzle out. It doesn’t matter how passionate your salesperson is about the product or the company. If they can’t share unique information and give some pointed insights that make a prospect feel known and cared for, they have no shot.
And speaking of shots…
Sales is not a battle to be won
If you see sales as a war, you are not alone. Many in the field still approach sales with a military mindset. Conquer a specific territory (win an account), crush the enemy (beat the competition, defeat your customer’s resistance), finish on top.
Not convinced? Listen to the language that’s used to motivate salespeople. You equip them. You arm them. Why? They’re soldiers, and there’s another battle coming. The company’s success—and their own success—hinges on their bloodlust for the sale. Victory is not optional. While there are scenarios where this approach does make sense, it has its shortcomings.
What if that language, and that way of doing business, is as ancient as a Spartan shield wall?
Warriors are meant to hurt the bad guys and help us win…wars. Your prospects, on the other hand, are not targets that need to be eliminated or disposed of. They actually need something very different from what hardened warriors are trained to offer.
Sales Reps are not warriors, they are more like…Doctors
Now more than ever, a lasting and fruitful relationship with customers happens because they feel care, expertise, and empathy during the conversation.
In the past, sales was descriptive. “This is the product I offer. Take it or leave it.” But today, it’s prescriptive. It’s a conversation powered by knowledge, the ability to listen and to demonstrate you know more than the average Googler. A skilled salesperson is aware of the customers’ issues and knows what to prescribe to help their specific pain points.
That’s the ideal situation. Imagine a physician who prescribes the same thing for every patient they see. Not the best habit, is it? Especially when patients have access to the exact same info online and could have gotten the same prescription from any doctor. A prescription treating only the symptoms they are all too familiar with, rather than the root cause of their pain. Yet that’s exactly what we ask salespeople to do. We tell them to sell, then give them a one-size-fits-all way to go about it. It’s no wonder they struggle.
Rethink Your Sales Strategy: Sales Enablement is about ENABLING your sales reps to create nurturing relationships.
If you or someone on your sales team is equipped with the outdated SALES IS WAR mentality, it’s time to take a hard look at your sales strategy. Sales is not a battle to be won. It’s a collaboration. You don’t need to unleash a warrior and let her barrage your prospects with information that may or may not be useful. You need to cultivate a sales team with better bedside manner. Can they listen to the prospects’ “pains” or challenges and make knowledgeable and personalized recommendations for how to solve for them? Can they effectively communicate how your solution goes beyond masking the symptoms to actually add value for the organization?
Additionally, quality marketing assets and smart content management are rarely done right. Which means, much like our friend the masseuse, a struggling salesperson often shows up with unhelpful materials in hand. The only useful tools they have to sell are their own skills: knowledge of the product, knowledge of the person they’re talking to, speaking ability, and personality are all 100% their own.
That’s where Sales Enablement comes in and shines. It equips sales reps with the right knowledge and the right training. It doesn’t add busy work or drown sales teams in administrative tasks that don’t make anyone money. It empowers them with the right coaching, the right tools, and the right content so they can turn prospects into customers that feel understood and cared for. It frees salespeople up to sell effectively!
A pep talk for the salespeople among us.
Few professions are vilified more than sales. The job is filled with hurtful stereotypes, loss and disappointment, and—ironic considering how people-focused it is—consistent solitude. We meant what we said earlier. This is a hard job, and it’s not for everyone.
But it is for you. You’re good at this. Remember that as you go about your workweek, and remember this as well: What you do is difficult, and you are appreciated. You are a helper. You diagnose, you implement, and people get better as a result. What you’re doing matters, and it has a lasting impact.
Give your sales reps some love and look into Sales Enablement technology today. The benefits far outweigh the cost of doing nothing. Don’t believe us? Request a demo and see for yourself.
Contributing Author: Luke Trayser