A common mistake is viewing sales playbooks as primarily about what to do – defining sales processes, planning disciples that will enable a “specific play” or help a new sales person get on-boarded.
Many sales playbooks heavily emphasize “What to Know” and “What to Do” like a tactical sports playbook. That is good information, however, focusing solely on process only partially equips salespeople for their daily activities.
In our work, we meet a lot of sales and marketing leaders who are puzzled as to why their salespeople avoid conversations with executives and miss all the potential benefits those conversations might yield. Salespeople may have the ability to get the meeting, but they don’t feel as though they’re equipped with the right strategies to engage executives and provoke responses. PowerPoints are too dull, and interrogations don’t leave a great impression or elicit a positive response.
Companies are always looking to have more effective customer conversations. To achieve this, salespeople generally go through annual product training, but seldom do they retain knowledge from this kind of training or adopt the methods it prescribes. In our work with hundreds of companies and thousands of salespeople and sales leaders, we’ve gained valuable insights into how best to approach employee learning.
We’ve found that there is often a sizable divide between sales and marketing teams. Marketing teams focus on strategy, positioning, and creating demand. They can get frustrated by the Sales team’s lack of alignment with those initiatives and with the inconsistency of messages delivered in customer conversations. Marketing needs their strategies to be implemented. Sales needs to have compelling conversations and needs the right training to help them do that.
Digital disruption is all around. Every product, software, and services company has jumped onto the bandwagon, promising digital nirvana, whether they understand it or not. But telling isn't selling. There are serious gaps in the sales organizations when it comes to "selling digital," especially in tech companies that are supposed to be at the leading edge of this change. There's a separate problem with how sales itself is being disrupted by digital, a class of problems we should call "digital selling," which will be the topic for another discussion.