One of the clients that we have been coaching recently changed jobs. They had taken the new role in the larger company initially because it was a challenge with room for them to grow. Ultimately though, even with our coaching, they became very frustrated. They didn’t have the opportunity to put into practice what they were learning.
Another one of our clients worked with a smaller startup for several years. They knew they could do more. And with our coaching, they did. But as they tried to step up more in the company, egos got in the way. They spent as much time managing their manager’s bad habits as they did trying to help the prospective customer buy. “This may be my last year here.”
In both of these cases, they were growing, but leadership was like a wet blanket. "A" players will not stick around to be managed by "B" players.
For them, there were several reasons for changing jobs. According to this article by Christine Comaford in Forbes, the reasons they left (or are thinking about leaving) are similar to the ones that many salespeople are burning out.
1- Lack of coaching and mentorship. One client hired us to coach them because their manager didn’t have the time to spend with them. They hadn’t been in this type of sales role before and knew that in order to reach their goals, what worked for them before won’t work now. Their manager was also new to their role and still learning the ins and outs of the company and their buyers. And their idea of coaching was more like a pep rally, “Who is closing what? We need to get that closed for Q1!” Any offer of help resulted in them taking over the meeting.
2-They don’t have or use the latest tools. Sorry, but having a salesforce.com account that you are required to enter data in doesn’t count has having the latest tools. Even though one person worked for a large tech company (1000+ employees) with an entire sales enablement team, the content they created was little more than a brochure. They traveled a lot, and the lead intelligence tools they were provided with wasn’t mobile friendly. They had to spend hours finding information, getting answers to questions, and endless red tape to initiate their own lead generation campaigns.
The other had no way of knowing how people were finding there site, what they were looking at when they were there, or even what they had downloaded. They were blinded with their hands tied.
3- No data or insights as to who buys from them and why. When one person asked leadership questions like “Why did our best customers buy from us? What triggered them to look for a solution?” there were no clear answers. No one knew! The other got answers that were about their features and benefits, they could have cared less about why it was a problem for their buyer, or even who it was important to.
4- No plan, strategy, or playbook. Not only did these companies not know why current customers choose them, they had no framework around who their buyer personae were, how they realized they had a problem, how they researched that problem, or why it was even a problem to begin with. There was no value proposition and no messaging that aligned with the buyer’s process. Training taught the salespeople about the tools they were selling, but nothing about the industry or why what they created mattered.
To fix sales, we need to fix the salespeople. I say this a lot, and I still believe it to be true. But what happens when the salespeople grow and get better, but have to fight against the tide of leadership to do what they know is right? They leave to find a place that they can continue to grow. So maybe to fix your sales, it’s not just the salespeople, but it is also the leadership that needs to change?
As Marty Tascona from Deliberate Selling said during our recent LinkedIn exchange:
“...I see sales success and failure as more of an organizational leadership challenge, and less of a rep specific issue. It’s a different challenge for sure, with many execs clinging to the past, regardless of category, intelligence, and competitive pressures. You can fix a 'rep' and less often a sales director, yet if the organizational culture, leadership, strategy, and more are off track, it won't move the needle at all. Recruiting is an example. You can find competent reps, yet if the FLSM or Front Line Sales Manager is inept, it won't work out. If the Owner won't develop the FLSM, or give them the reins, your hires won't work out. Nor will your training or fixed rep. Too much systemic friction by B & C player management, negative sales culture, and other points of breakdown.”
In another conversation with Wayne Herring from StrongerSalesPeople.com, he said:
“Great salespeople today are looking for the opportunity to make great money, yes…but moreover, they are looking for a culture and a team that will support them. Great salespeople want to have a full tool kit to go into battle with. The way a company recruits says a lot about how they will support that salesperson’s efforts and talents. We work to help companies that already have great systems, coaching, culture, and inbound content creation systems to adequately tell their story so that they can attract “A” talent from the organizations that don’t deserve to have these people.”
(Wayne specializes in helping companies to attract sales talent from organizations who do not support them. His system preys on companies who still think salespeople should feel privileged to “have a job”. He may be onto something...are your best salespeople talking to him?)
Are you a salesperson thinking that the grass is greener elsewhere? If you are not at your best, how will you know if it is a place where you can grow and thrive and that your contribution is appreciated? Are you at the top of your game?
Is it your responsibility to lead and create more leaders? Does your culture support or frustrate that?
What internal mindsets and activities does a coaching culture need to support? Download the Roadmap to Unbound Growth to get the framework needed to create, keep, (and become) top quality salespeople.