“Good sales managers monitor key behaviours” – interview by John Smibert
In this interview John (JD) Dean tells about specific behaviours that the better sales managers look for in salespeople – behaviours that that can be early indicators of poor sales performance.
JD’s research has led him to identify 10 key behaviours that lead to less than satisfactory results. In this interview he covers 4 of these. He emphasises that consistent display of these behaviours by an individual means coaching is required – or replacement. A more endemic display of these behaviours across the sales force indicates a cultural issue that needs to be changed if the organisation is to achieve success.
CEO’s, COO’s, Sales leaders and sales managers are likely to find this interview of value. It will also be of assistance to individual salespeople to help them identify where they might need to improve.
John (JD) Dean is a revenue and growth strategist, a board member, an author and a keynote speaker.
John: Welcome back, JD!
JD: Thanks for the opportunity again, John!
John: JD, in your recent book I Dare You, you talked about key indicators that the sales force may not be performing to optimum.
John: I’d like to share probably the top three or four of those with the audience today.
John: Particularly for sales managers to get a feel for the sorts of things they need to be looking for, but also for the salespeople as well.
JD: Right, okay – behaviours. We spend a lot of time looking and talking to organisations about behaviours, and so we’ve seen a whole variety of poor behaviours that we’ve been able to indicate the nine top ones. The first one is the worst one, obviously. The first one is a deal slip every month.
John: Yes, a forecast issue.
JD: The forecast issue, deal slip. I’m really not in control, as a sales rep I just haven’t done the qualification any justice. I mean, I get deal slip, I understand that things happen within businesses, but when it happens on a continual basis – for two reasons, the sales rep needs to stand up, and sales management needs to have more interrogation on where the deal’s at and what we really know about it.
John: And there’s some reasons why it might be slipping and we need to get to the bottom of that.
John: But some salespeople behave badly on that regularly, I find, and they need good coaching to understand that “Hey, you need to up your skills on selling, you need to up your skills on qualification.”
JD: Yes, completely. Qualification becomes a gut-based thing that the rep does rather than a process within a business, and a really healthy review culture of making sure I’m continually in control of opportunities.
John: Okay, that’s a good one. What’s the second?
JD: One of the indicators that that lead us to was that in the CRM, in the customer relationship management system a deal is either forecast last day of the month, or it’s a round number. So, again, am I really in control? Is the board really going to make them have a meeting the day before or three days before? Am I really going to get the contract finished? No.
John: That real hockey stick at the end of the quarter or at the end of the year – yes, big problem.
JD: Absolutely. They don’t really know who’s on the board. One of the questions we ask often is: how many people are involved in the decision-making process, in what we’re proposing? We typically get an answer of between four and six. In reality, in some organisations that need to go before a board for a business case we might have up to 20 or even more signatures. We don’t have to meet all those people necessarily, it’d be good if we could, but we just want to know that it’s not the one or two people we’re talking to.
John: And we want to know what influence those others are going to have, and maybe there do need to be some that we have to touch.
JD: Either touch, or understand what they’re thinking about. What are the indicators that they really need to do so we can put that in our business case template?
JD: Probably the next one is, they’re after a template for everything. They kind of don’t want to do the hard work, they want a template for proposals…
John: “I want the standard proposal off the shelf!”
JD: Yes, exactly!
JD: “Why don’t we have one already?”
John: Or “I want the value proposition.”
JD: Exactly, the value proposition. So, they want a template for proposals, they want a template for presentations. All they do is cut and paste the logo, they don’t really understand the fundamental drivers of a customer, and they’re just going through yet another race to the bottom.
John: They haven’t got the insight that we talked about in the earlier discussions, right?
JD: No – absolutely. Not only do they not know that, but they believe that doing a proposal means that the client’s going to buy.
JD: And, as we know, the proposal is just one part of the process. It’s really nothing, it’s irrelevant to whether the customer’s going to buy from us or not.
John: “The customer’s showing interest, let’s put a proposal on the table and…”
John: “And then try and close.”
JD: And then how do I make that proposal reflect all our discussions and not just the templated process and here we go. They’re probably some of the main indicators. But, again, there’s a series of poor behaviours that we see. Why people keep those individuals, I’m stunned about. But….
John: Sometimes, though, it’s an endemic problem in the organisation itself.
JD: Yes, absolutely.
John: It’s a peer behaviour, they’re all learning from each other, and the organisation hasn’t changed behavioural style.
JD: Yes, or the sales leadership in the business isn’t as strong as it needs to be, so they’re not as hot on some of these components, and so things slip and “You know, Fred’s a nice guy so we’ll keep him on board.”
John: So, you cover all of these in I Dare You, your new book.
JD: Yes, absolutely.
John: I look forward to reading those in more detail, and I look forward to our next discussion!
JD: Thanks, John!
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