Each week The Sales Way will be interviewing a thought leader from The Sales Enablement industry on how they recommend organisations deliver more effective sales and business development results. This week, The Sales Way speaks to Leanne Hoadgland-Smith from the Increase Sales Blog (http://processspecialist.com/increasesales/) on her views and predictions for the Sales Enablement industry.
As part of The Sales Way’s interview series with influential thought leaders in the Sales Enablement space, this week we will be interviewing Leanne Hoadgland-Smith from ProcessSpecialist.com. With over 30 years in sales and over 4,000 articles written, Leanne is a weekly business columnist for the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana and a regular contributor to a range of business journals. Today she shares her views on sales training and sales enablement with us.
Please can you tell us a little bit about how you came to work in the world of sales enablement, and what makes sales enablement such a special sector to work in?
The term sales enablement for me being somewhat old school is misleading because sales success is directly proportional to sales activity. Sales success is a process that begins with marketing activities transitions into selling activities and finally continues to keeping activities.
With so many businesses under 20 employees, marketing has now become integral to selling or sales and thus there must be alignment between these actions. I do not believe it is a special sector, but rather it reaffirms what Zig Ziglar said “Sales is the transference of feelings.” Within sales enablement, we are creating feelings in marketing and then diverting those feelings to selling (securing new customers) and keeping (retaining customers).
How do you think sales enablement (and industry approaches to sales enablement, training and techniques) has changed over the past twenty years?
Social media probably has been the greatest impetus for sales enablement. In the past, salespeople were more concerned about selling. They now must embrace marketing to be truly engaged. This engagement has given rise to educational based marketing versus the old traditional or product based approach to marketing.
Writing will become a critical sales skill because many decision makers are reading and seeking information on potential vendors before they pick up the phone. Salespeople for those businesses under 20 employees will need to create their own content.
With so many apps and software tools being created to aid sales people in their selling efforts, what real impact do you think these tools and apps will have on how sales people sell?
Forward thinking salespeople will find those sites and people that make great recommendations. However given the majority of CRM users are inconsistent in the use of any CRM software, I do not think it will change how people sell. If there are any changes, it will be in how people market.
Many industry analysts are talking about the ‘decline of the salesperson’. What role do you think sales people will have in the future, in order to stay relevant?
Funny, years ago when radio was invented, industry analysts talked about the decline of newspapers. Then television debuted and those same analysts said radio was doomed. Next Video and DVDs came into existence and television along with movie theaters were on the soon to be extinct list.
I do not believe there is a decline in salespeople. What I do believe is poor to average sales people will be eliminated. Forward thinking and effective salespeople will always be around.
What I see is a change in roles for the majority of salespeople. This role change will marry marketing and selling along with the respective skills and actions. Those salespeople who keep abreast of marketing will be successful. Peter Drucker acknowledged this many years ago when he defined the sole purpose of business is marketing and innovation.
What key piece of advice would you give to sales managers who are looking to improve their team’s sales results or set up a sales enablement program? Where should they start?
My first recommendation is to assess your team members. Proceeding forward without any diagnostic assessments is much like going to the doctor with a headache and the doctor immediately without ordering any tests schedules you for brain surgery.
These assessments would include:
- Hartman’s Axiology assessment where external and internal decision making styles along with temperaments are assessed. This assessment depending upon the publisher also includes up to 78 core attributes or talents.
- DISC Index based on the works of Marston looks to behaviors especially communication. For those in sales, this assessment is critical to effective sales activity.
- Values Index based on the efforts of Spranger and Allport identifies six or seven key motivators. Good to great sales performers have the economic driver in the top 50% of the motivators.
- Emotional Intelligence based on the combined works of Gardner and Goleman provides the fourth piece as sales is the transference of feelings.
The second step would look at the sales process respective to marketing, selling and keeping. Here the goal is to identify and align the talents of the team to these actions.
Step three is to share a proven goal setting process so that everyone is one the same page using the same tool. This goal setting worksheet works better when talents and all resources are included along with known and possible barriers.
When these first three steps are completed, then the fourth step is to meet weekly review the progress; update the goal sheets and finally celebrate the successes.
Note from The Sales Way
Leanne makes a really good point about how sales people must now “embrace marketing to be truly engaged” as this is probably one of the biggest changes facing sales teams – they are becoming marketers, not just account managers. In larger businesses, you may have dedicated content production teams, but as Leanne mentions, in many SMB companies, the sales teams will be responsible for creating their own content to share with potential prospects across social media and blog platforms in order to build their thought leadership position.
In terms of whether the value of “the salesperson” is declining as newer technologies and access to information increases, Leanne makes an interesting point that sales people will not be any less relevant, it’s just that “poor to average sales people will be eliminated” as they struggle to adapt and change to the new way of communicating with customers.