Imagine being a tennis coach and one day, you tell your team you want them to start playing golf. You hand out brand new, top-of-the-line golf clubs, and send them back out to the tennis court to play golf. What do you think will happen?
Since they have no idea how to play golf, we’re pretty sure they’ll revert to playing tennis. And it won’t take long to realize that golf clubs won’t help with their tennis game, so they go back to using a tennis racket. Think this scenario is ridiculous? Think again. It plays out over and over when companies roll out new sales tools to their sales teams.
It takes more than new tools to change the way sales teams do their job. It takes a combination of people, processes and tools to manifest real change. Changes to one element require changes to the others. As we saw in our example, replacing rackets with clubs does not turn tennis players into golfers. Neither do new sales tools, on their own, transform reps into a high performing sales team.
New Skills for New Behaviors
Let’s assume your team is capable of learning a new process and applying new tools. Even if they’ve been playing tennis for 10 years and you now want them to play golf, they will likely adapt if you teach them the techniques and skills they need to play golf. But if you don’t teach them how to properly swing a golf club, they may try using their tennis swing to hit a golf ball, and not very successfully. Some may learn on their own, but the majority will quickly become frustrated and revert to playing tennis with a tennis racket.
Relative to value-based selling, you must show the team how they will become more successful by shifting from a sales process based on features and functions to a process that focuses first on the customer’s problem and then the value of solving that problem before ever introducing your solution.
Then you need to teach them how to sell based on value. This will not likely be a one-time event, but an iterative process. To ensure their success, you might even include hands-on coaching.
Change can be hard for many people. Asking your team to change without convincing them why and training them how is likely to fail.
New Rules and New Scorekeeping
If you expect someone to start playing golf, you can’t just move them from a tennis court to a golf course. You need to explain the rules of golf and let them know how the score will be kept.
In B2B terms, introducing a new tool or set of tools means you need to modify your sales processes and metrics to support the use of these tools and align with the new expectations. We have seen this implemented in various ways in value-based selling.
One client wouldn’t allow a sales rep to schedule a demo until they had documented the estimated value that the client could receive. Another wouldn’t allow a proposal to be generated until a cost-justified business case had been created.
These may seem like extreme measures, but they’re not. If you don’t change processes and how business is conducted on a daily basis, very little will change. It’s also important to change your metrics to measure changes in behavior as well as in sales. In the end, what gets measured gets managed.
New Tools for a Different Game
If you want someone to play golf, you give them golf clubs. If you want them to golf well, you give them top-of-the-line golf clubs. But what good are the best tools available if people don’t understand why they should be playing golf, don’t have the skills to use them, or don’t understand the rules of the game (process)?
You might be surprised to know that we have seen the flip side of this. What do you think happens when a company changes its sales process, trains its sales team in the new process, but never provides the tools needed to help them achieve the desired outcome? It’s like teaching a tennis player the rules of golf, teaching them how to swing, but then sending them to the golf course with a tennis racket.
Whenever you want to make a change in how your team sells, you must address all three elements to be successful: people, process, and tools. Don’t give them golf clubs without teaching them how to swing. Don’t send them to the golf course and continue measuring their output with tennis metrics. And don’t expect them to play golf with a tennis racket!
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