The law of unintended consequences can create a strange effect on managing the sales force. In my previous blog I wrote about the competence and skills that under pin accurate sales forecasting one other critical reason why sales forecasting fails is sales people don’t
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close enough deals preferring instead to focus on lead generation.
This you might think is a desirable goal after all more leads means a bigger, better pipeline and hopefully more sales but as Neil Rackham once pointed out in his excellent book on Sales Management sales managers who continuously push the more button are likely to see short term improvements in their sales whilst sacrificing longer term sustainable sales results.
What has this to do with the law of unintended consequences: by pumping more leads into the system sales people enter more games but unless they have the behaviours and skills to convert their pipeline into deals then you are playing a numbers game and the unintended consequence is you get a sales team good at pipeline focus but losing the skills to close deals against forecast. This can mean your pipeline to win ratio is low and more importantly your management of price/margin realisation can also go by the wayside, however get enough leads in the pipeline and you are bound to close some of them.
Lead generation is vital but sales managers should develop sales people in
the whole process, if your account managers are highly motivated by pace and activity (and many are) they will enjoy the lead generation side of the sales process and may disguise their lack of success in latter stages by cries for more leads/better leads where in fact the sales organisation would be more effective if it focused on quality/qualification of leads and closed fewer deals at better pricing/margins in a shorter timeframe.
For sales managers training or coaching sales people on the following behavioural competences will improve the quality of your account management practice
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and help avoid the laws of unexpected consequences and bring you closer to your forecast of closed deals:
- Building an emotional connection to engage the customer your product and the urgency to buy
- Take charge and maximise influence to pressure decision makers to take action
- Identifying needs and new business opportunities from existing clients and being driven to demonstrate to the customer how your unique proposition can help them.
Behaviours of course need to be developed alongside skills such as “positioning your offer” or/and “negotiating” all of which can be analysed using an objective assessment.
If you would like to see for yourself how sales managers can use assessment linked development to impact price margin realisation and strengthen pipeline management please call to arrange a web or face to face demonstration and
ask about our current trial offers.