The 3 most common causes of sales engine failure

The 3 most common causes of sales engine failure…

Much like an engine is part of an overall system (electrical, cooling, fuel, etc.), so is sales part of a larger system (marketing, operations, finance, etc.).

And just like the engine in a car, if sales performance is broken, the whole system is affected.

Unfortunately, many people – even experienced sales leaders – will work on fixing the wrong part of the engine to drive better performance.

They will inject new processes, new marketing campaigns, or even – tragically – new technology to get the overall business into high performance mode.

But these are often not the true issue at hand.

I will write more about each of these in future blogs, but let me offer three of the biggest root cause issues affecting your sales engine and – hopefully – get your team’s energies focused on the right things now.

Issue 1

The common symptoms:

  • Customers ignore your core messaging
  • Not enough “at bats” with the right customer altitudes
  • Sales teams consistently underperform/miss sales targets

The root cause issue: Lack of sales methodology alignment

The common fix: Shift your sales methodology from being centered on your product (or services) to being centered on your customers’ problems.

Extra tip: Want to test if your reps are product-centric or problem-centric? See if they can talk about ONLY customers and their problems for 10 minutes without mentioning themselves, your company, or your products/services. If your people cannot do this, your sales methodology is broken.

Issue 2

The common symptoms:

  • People fail to team effectively
  • Poor accountability
  • Managers complain that their teams are weak /ineffective/wrong

The root cause issue: Lack of goal clarity

The common fix: Implement clear definitions of success that include: (a) the desired outcome (b) how you will measure success and (c) all of your expected requirements to include in their efforts. Then empower people to pursue them.

Extra tip: Want to test the strength of your goals? Ask people to define their goals for the year/quarter/week and see they can define the outcome, metrics, and requirements for the time period you are talking about. If your people cannot be specific (and aligned) in their answers, your goal clarity is broken.

Issue 3

The common symptoms:

  • Customers reject attempts to up-sell/cross-sell within their organization
  • Processes consistently break down
  • People complain about “them” all of the time (“them” could refer to both customers and/or fellow employees)

The root cause issue: Lack of role clarity

The common fix: Redefine the roles of your customers FIRST – then redefine the roles of your sales team to align with EACH of the customer roles.

Extra tip: Want to test how aligned your sales roles are with your customer profiles? Ask people to describe how they “switch hats” when talking with different customer roles. If your sales team doesn’t all give you the SAME ANSWER for each customer scenario, your role clarity is broken.

What do you think? If you’d like to dive deeper into the health of your sales engine, leave your comment or question in the comments section. I totally geek out over topics like this and would love to engage with you.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

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