Are Your Sales Practices Obsolete?
By Rowen Untivero
 
            Happy New Year CEOs and Sales Managers!
 
A new year almost always means a higher sales target, right? Are your salespeople up to par in delivering your sales growth against your competitors who are also upgrading, particularly those hungry to keep or grow their market shares? Just a reality check, are your sales practices already obsolete?
 
Age per se does not make salespeople obsolete. What makes them obsolete, wasteful and less effective is if their strategies, tools, methods and skills are outdated.  Why should this be a bother? Well, for one, your salespeople deliver your top line (sales revenues). Secondly, they are expected to win versus competitors who are updating themselves. Thirdly, a lot of them have impact on gross profit when they recommend and execute discounting of price. Lastly, each mistake they make turns over the business most likely to your most hated competitors!
 
Perhaps hard enough to swallow, here are some indicators that your sales practices are already obsolete. Remember, without humility in accepting reality there can be no progress.
 
In B2B (selling to conglomerates, companies, institutions)
 
Your salespeople rely on price to make deals throwing away precious profits. If this is their primary way of selling, then they are 4 decades behind in sales strategies and methods. Who suffers? Your company suffers. Who wins? Your competitors who effectively protect their gross profit while continuing to grow faster than you can.
 
In Retail (selling inside the store, kiosks, exhibits, mall corridors)
 
One indicator is that your sales clerks passively spend time, just arranging merchandise, hovering around the cashier or each other, just waiting for their clock-out time. At the extreme, your sales promoters aggressively push fliers in front of people, a lot of which are now avoiding their trajectory, shouting out products and announcements at customers, not realizing that they are providing negative customer experience and damaging the image of your brands!
 
In Field Selling to Individuals/Couples (involves prospecting and selling to them in their places of work, common areas and their homes)
 
Any one of these reveal tell-tale signs of obsolescence: They think it is just a numbers game and so they burn and waste the leads. They find difficulty getting appointments. They still rely on “presenting, handling objections and then closing”. They still use “FAB” (Features, Advantages and Benefits). They seem to encounter plenty of objections. Some of them even hard sell thereby turning off customers. Who suffers? Your brand and company suffer. Future attempts to sell to the same prospects become less and less probable. 
 
What Should Be Done?
 
            First of all, there must be a reality acceptance that indeed your sales practices are obsolete. Secondly, with this acceptance comes the realization that if nothing is done to upgrade your sales practices, the company is traversing a road to disaster in terms of loss of sales, market share and profitability. Thirdly, there is a need to quickly determine the extent of practices that need to be overhauled or replaced, apart from the tips of the iceberg laid down earlier. Then a development program that should be complete with properly updated framework, tools and methods must be designed and implemented to upgrade the practices. Fourthly, the updated sales practices must be assimilated into the culture and daily practices of the company, well-supported by management, tracked and followed through to ensure optimal returns.
 
            But this costs money? Indeed it does require an investment. One backward thinking company owner once told a consulting and training company, “we don’t have the budget for sales training.” The training advisor replied “you may not realize it that you do have the budget!” “What do you mean?” inquired the company owner. “Well, your sales training budget comes from the sales your company will never have”, replied the Training Advisor. That is why sales training is an investment and not a reward. Its true intent is to positively influence the outcome of opportunities your people are yet to encounter after their training.
 
Just a word of caution, having run-of-the-mill sales training using obsolete practices will obviously just waste time and resources. Quite logically, only training using cutting edge frameworks, tools, methods, matching market realities with your sales DNA-type can be able to deliver with precision the superiorly, differentiating upgrade.
 
 
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Rowen Untivero is a Partner and Chief Sales Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., the country’s leading marketing, sales, strategy and innovation training company. For more than 3 decades, Untivero has injected much science into selling by introducing innovative frameworks, tools and skill-related development programs.  He will have a half-day Mansmith Mavens Speaking Engagement on 10 Critical Sales Mistakes Very Costly To Companies and How To Correct Them” .Please send your questions, comments or feedback to mentors@mansmith.net. You can also visit 
www.mansmith.net.