Every Chief Sales Officer must seize growth opportunities. Yet these days, they face an uphill battle. Now more than ever, prospects view salesmen and saleswomen as time-sucking annoyances. In fact, they say 90% of sales calls are a “waste of time*.
That’s harsh—and it’s all the more reason for sales teams to bring their “A games” to every prospect conversation by sharing their companies’ insights and wisdom. That’s a lofty, but attainable, goal.
Or is it? Here’s the irony: most sales teams are trained to fail. The current way businesses teach and tool-up sales teams work against prospect expectations. Training time is overwhelmingly dedicated to learning product details and using sales tools. Only a fraction of training is spent practicing the stories that will add value in selling conversations.
Effective reps are storytellers. They cultivate connections and credibility through powerful, authentic, memorable stories. In contrast, the current approach of automating bad conversations rapidly replicates the number of time-wasting calls a sales team makes. This alienates prospects, and often ruins the ability to nurture key relationships.
At scale, this destructive process undermines a sales team’s value proposition so badly, prospects simply won’t want to talk to anyrep from the company. There’s no value in the company’s value prop—only exasperation and mistrust.
When sales teams scorch the earth in this way, they resign themselves to years of underperforming territories and missed quotas.
But what if there was a new approach to sales enablement? One that recognized that the sales conversation is the critical sales-success activity? What if there was an approach that likened salesmanship to musicianship—where training for lively give-and-take experiences was the norm, not the exception?
Consider the difference between classical musicians and jazz musicians.
Classical musicians live in a highly structured and predictable world. Weeks before their concert starts, they know every single note they’ll play, how they’ll play it, and when they’ll play it. This rigid methodology mirrors the conventional sales approach: a rote sales process, product knowledge, and sales tools are assumed to be enough for a rep to march from lead to close.
Jazz musicians, on the other hand, live in a highly interactive and dynamic world. They may know the starting point and structure of a song, but they don’t know the notes they’ll play as they step on-stage. In fact, their performance will often wildly change, based on what their bandmates are playing—and the collaborative, memorable experience they want to deliver.
Like the jazz musician with her ears attuned to the lively moment-to-moment mood of the room and armed with well-practiced riffs in her back pocket, salespeople must also be prepared to participate in interactive, wide-ranging and memorable selling conversations.Sharing relevant ideas, insights and memorable stories during the sales conversation will transform a sales rep from a time-waster into a valuable prospect ally.
Growth opportunities still abound, and prospects’ expectations continue to evolve. Sales teams that prioritize a conversation-focused enablement approach will create fertile ground for more personable, positive—and persuasive—experiences with prospects.
Paul McGhee founded SharperAx in 2013. SharperAx develops role-play automation software.