In times of tougher sales and market conditions, we frequently observe three problematic patterns related to sales performance. First, there is an increase: more management, more pressure, more numbers. Second, trainings in classic sales techniques are intensified. Third, every sales person is hold accountable only for the own activities and numbers. These measures seldom work convincingly, more often they are counterproductive.
Ignorance towards the quality of conversation
When headquarters start to put pressure on sales, it also means that typically decision power on lower levels is reduced. The conversation focuses completely on numbers, especially on numbers not achieved. No doubt, sales people start to feel responsible for achieving the quantities. But they are mislead to not feeling responsible for the quality of their sales. By this, sales becomes an island disconnected from the rest of the company. And how do sales people experience such an development? In their eyes, the headquarters becomes the center of the negative energy.
Tapping the market knowledge and creative power of sales
Headquarters are fairly distant to markets. By nature, they cannot be as close to markets as the sales people who are in touch with the customer day in, day out. So, when it comes to improve sales performance, you need to tap the market knowledge of the sales community. Additionally, it is important to have sales people understand the consequences of product sales inside the company. And they need to be challenge as a group being responsible for the sales results jointly. This means to shift the conversation inside sales away from a pure focus on numbers towards quality of sales and innovation. But the biggest challenge in such a change effort is not on sales level, but rests on higher management who needs to treat sales not as a machine, but as a creative force.