Results Driven Sales VP’s Check Under The Covers

” Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” Charlie Munger

Let you in on a dirty little secret in sales training. Most people don’t implement.

Yup, people are human. Change is hard. Most people, sales reps included, will resist altering habits, no matter how poorly the present practice is performing or how obviously beneficial a new method would be.

That’s why the best performing teams I have seen have sales management that checks under the covers. Are the scripts being used? Are meetings conducted in accordance to plan? Or, do reps drift away from well planned solid practices because 1) they can rationalize why they should, and 2) they can get away with it.

People are far less likely to steal from you if they know systems are in place and they know they will get caught. And guess what? Reps are far less likely to resort to lowest common denominator, what’s easy at the moment, skim the cream off the top sales practices if they know their manager is going to peek under the covers to make sure they are adhering to the plan. If they go off plan they know they must be able to articulate a damn good reason why they did.

Received a call recently from a sales VP that told me a new rep wasn’t opening up the first meeting with a well structured “commercial” but had developed some top notch questions, seeking advice on how to get that rep to open up meetings correctly.

I was surprised to get a call like that because they are too rare. Once companies invest to reach conclusions about how best to close more sales and teach reps those methods, most of the time, they are not implemented. Only the top-performing organizations regularly check under the covers to make sure that reps are implementing according to plan.

There should be no hiding in sales.

“If you don’t do what Scott says you can’t work here.” Yikes. That is how an EVP of sales opened my training sessions for new reps. It wasn’t because I was super special. He said that because they had a way of doing business, prospecting for new opportunities, how to conduct initial sales meetings, that worked for them. Either the reps were willing to execute the sales strategies and behaviors that this company felt gave them the best chance for new business, or they could not work there anymore.

And guess what? Management checked under the covers to make sure reps were doing things correctly. They gave reps plenty of support and guidance to be great salespeople, but at some point, if they weren’t willing to follow company practices, it was buh-bye.

Guess it worked as the company went from $15m to 100M in about six years.

There is not a more powerful force on this planet greater than people’s ability to rationalize why they don’t have to do what they don’t want to do.

Reps will do mental gymnastics worthy of Olympic champions to rationalize why they don’t have to do something they are not comfortable doing. Even “you would have to be an idiot not to do this” type change is resisted.

So you have to check under the covers.

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