As the leader of your sales team you, no doubt, place great emphasis on the achievement of sales results. And rightly so.
But if a sales manager focuses exclusively on results, so to do your salespeople. An intense focus on results can distract everyone from the sales process, which is the all-important input side of the sales results equation. Results-orientation can cause salespeople to push customers for outcomes, which when not combined with excellent selling skills, can be perceived by customers as over-aggressiveness. In extreme cases, a customer thinks they’re dealing with a “self-focused product-pusher with commission breath.” Not good.
A manager’s focus on results can also distract salespeople from focusing on the customer’s buying process. A sales director recently told me about a conversation he had with a salesperson. The sales rep had forecasted “XYZ Account” as 80% probability to close by the end of the month. So the sales director asked his rep, “What are the two biggest problems that XYZ Company has, and why are they experiencing those problems?”, and then, “Which of our company’s differentiators are important to this customer – and why?” The salesperson’s response was described by the sales director as a “dead-fish look.” No answers. And if your salesperson can’t answer these questions why should we expect the customer to know the answers?
So, in the New Year, take pride in your drive for results. But along the way, remember to keep your eyes and ears focused on the behaviors and activities that create those results. That is where you, and you alone, can make the biggest impact on your team’s sales results. Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2012!