All sales people should change career NOW – or maybe not.

My reply to a recent headlining statement.

The pretext

This week it was revealed by Brian de Haaff, the CEO of Aha, that he would never hire another sales person. He quoted various statistics surrounding client purchasing engagement with sales people being involved in the last 10% of the sales cycle. You can’t argue with statistics right?

How I see it

So let’s use these statistics and work backwards in the sales cycle. There are 7 stages of a decision making cycle:

  1. Decision:
  2. Implementation:
  3. Changes over Time:
  4. Recognition of needs:
  5. Evaluation of Options:
  6. Resolution of Concerns:
  7. Negotiation:

Typically your average sales person is only asked by a prospect to get involved at the end of number 4, and therein lies my beef with Mr de Haaff’s decision to never hire a sales person again. (We’ll come back to this).

An astute, well trained and hungry sales person will be aware of business and cultural changes happening within the industry he or she serves and will start their engagement, at best at the beginning of stage 3, most likely part way through.

Your absolute top performer, however, that person will be engaged throughout. Even if the decision has just been made it is at this point that the next purchasing decision has begun and this person knows this, nurturing this potential client through the difficult stages of implementation all the way through until the next decision is made, only this time in their favour.

There are then the super sales persons, the one in a million who can still turn things around in the last hour. Take look at this 2015 Sales Kick Off meeting hosted by Anthony Iannarino. 1 hour and 9 minutes in Jeb Blount tells a story using the exact same statistics Brian de Haaff used, but with a totally different outcome as a result of a sales person.

My Beef

So here’s the thing: I appreciate that in some circumstances an outright sales person, for some businesses, is not entirely necessary. Small, web-based, transactional sale items could be serviced by a Customer Success team. However if your business requires a more complex sales structure then you will save much more by investing in the right training for your existing sales team than you would be replacing it with something that is not financially motivated to the success of your business.

Conclusion

It is lazy sales people who have given Mr de Haaff every reason to believe what he has written to be true, and I really cannot blame him for this. If you fall into this category then yes you should most certainly look at a career change. If, like me, you believe that now more than ever there is a real need for great sales people then start by doing the things that great sales people do. Pick up the phone, nurture your dream clients, learn from the best (a couple of which I have mentioned in this post) but most of all believe that what you do is vital to the success of the company you are working for.  You and only you can make your company grow.

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