Considering a Different Strategy than “Hope” for Increasing Sales

Imagine you’re in sales leadership and you’re in discussions with a training and consulting firm to provide much-needed skill development to improve individual, team and, most importantly, corporate performance.  The discovery process is going well and there’s strong alignment between training objectives and Sales vision. And then suddenly the quarter comes to a close, sales are down, and funding for this (and other) training initiatives is suspended.

In these volatile economic times, this happens more than I’d like. As an experienced negotiator who is trained to focus on value and long-term gains over short-sighted reactions, I’ve been reflecting on ways to provocatively question this course of action.

“Hope is not a strategy.” – Vince Lombardi

While I understand the reluctance to spend money in a down time, I believe this is especially the moment to invest in what costs pennies on the dollar for the potential return. It does seem counter intuitive to spend on areas such as training when times are tough, and so we can start by revisiting the necessity and value of the training in question. Have you have identified a training partner whose methodology and approach are strategic and not merely tactical, and one that offers a framework that is straightforward to implement?  Are there precedents and industry results that demonstrate increased sales representative confidence, enhanced relationship building skills, and new strategies for increasing margin, finding more revenue, and reducing costs? At this juncture in a sales team’s questionable future, renewed motivation is often necessary to change the status quo, and when combined with practical and immediate strategies that promote strong mutually beneficial agreements, more optimal results rather than sub-optimal ones emerge.

What excites me are the numbers. Take your company’s current sales and consider adding at least 1% to it (this potential increase of a single percent is truly a minimum). With a $100 million revenue stream, add at least $1 million to it, while spending less than 15% of that result in a training investment for a sales force in the hundreds. We have gotten feedback from former clients that results by a single sales representative employing new negotiation tools led to a subsequent deal alone covering the cost of the training initiative. The math works.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

                                                                        - Albert Einstein

Something, however, gets in the way for decisions makers. Perhaps it is fear of making a bad choice and throwing good money after bad by not finding a worthy provider or solution that will change results. Anxiety over future negative performance can arise triggering the instinct to “freeze.” And yet, this reaction of inaction, while eliminating new risks, is more likely to net similar or worse results from a team that is lacking a new strategy out of which better outcomes could begin to propagate.  

So before you close the door on a training that can help your sales team shift its mindset and its behaviors with a clear connection to bottom line success, do the math, align the objectives, and include measurements and reinforcements that produce an upside to you, the team and your company. It’s a risk, albeit a calculated one, and it should be the change needed for turning the corner for sales success.

We would enjoy hearing your stories, questions, and concerns. Feel free to share them here.


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