Large business seems intent on bombarding sales staff with information, programmes, sales training and competitive attack battle cards. Not only are sales people sent reams of details about their own company’s latest product release and must-know features, they are now also expected to digest competitor information too.
If companies went about this in a coherent and consolidated way then it wouldn’t be a problem, but as revenues and profits start to dip, businesses desperately scrabble around for the missing link. And they think they have found it in sales.
So marketing gets to creating lots of campaigns, emails and collateral for the salesman to give to his customer. Then HR and Corporate start arranging sales training programmes, because the reason the company is failing must be to do with an under trained and ill equipped sales force. And thirdly the Product Managers of each launch create and distribute information and product training to the sales people, that conflicts in many cases with the details sent out by marketing and even other Product Managers. And finally, the Sales Management and teams themselves arrange call out days and events to show they too are getting involved in driving sales.
The sales person doesn’t know where to even start, so he continues doing what he has always done whether it works or not. And all of that expensive investment from each department is wasted and the revenues are still in decline, and the company is still blaming the sales force for the low performance.
So what can companies do to avoid this trap?
They are more than likely already in the situation I described earlier so the first step is to group the activities into different areas, such as marketing, training etc. Then look across all the activities in your organisation that you have collected and decide what parts overlap and what parts have similarities where you can combine and broaden slightly just one offering, but replace five legacy activities in the process.
Then you need to map it to a customer life cycle and story, so the sales person knows when and where to use and call on these different resources.
Finally you need clear governance to prevent the creep of extra activities as time goes on and the focus relaxes. It’s a full time job in itself ensuring that each department sticks to its allotted activity creation and doesn’t start the bombarding again. Sales training doesn’t have to be painful…
As Steve Jobs said – simple can be harder than complex.