This html-coded online version of the Wombat Final 15/5/06 9:12 AM -- wombatbook.pdf, was prepared by Darlene Sartore with some additions, clarifications, minor adaptations, color texting, and numbered paragraphs to make the text easier to use in follow-along reading and referencing during dialogs.... This version is for use only by course presenters certified by An Ever Better World Internet Academy. Permission granted from author on March 5, 2007.
1. How good are we at sales training? Unfortunately for most of us, the answer is ‘Not very!’ In fact, we are very, very poor at sales training. It is a well-documented fact that in the US a mere 20 per cent of salespeople account for 80 per cent of the nation’s gross sales. The results are about the same in Australia. Although this is well known in the sales profession, the American economy still spends billions of dollars annually hiring, training, subsidising, and finally replacing salespeople, and then it starts all over again.
2. In 1996 in the US, just before the Internet revolution, sales executives spent over US$5 billion in the process of locating and training sales personnel. More than US$12 billion was spent in just the direct costs (advertising, executive time, testing, instructing) involved in finding, training and then losing sales people. At least 25 per cent of recruits changed jobs during the first year and a staggering proportion of the remaining 70 per cent lost sales, burned territories and were destined to change jobs before the end of the second year.
3. Back in the 1920s, the insurance industry funded an intensive project to address this costly agent turnover, which stood at more than 65 per cent in the first year and up to 85 per cent in the first three years. Measured again 70 years later, turnover of agents in the insurance industry was still 65 per cent in the first year and 85 per cent in the first three years.
4. In the last 70 years, billions of dollars have been spent on teaching oldsell methods to salespeople. Never before have there been so many training and motivation courses covering things like sales analysis, psychoanalysis, transactional analysis, closing techniques, objection handlers, reverse selling, positive thinking and so forth, in the form of books, tapes and CDs, films and DVDs, seminars, incentive programs, conferences and camps.
5. There are commissions, prizes and bonuses and trips and contests and conventions. Yet the situation has not improved even one percentage point!
6. Consider the astonishing cost to shareholders of the failure of sales training. The waste of company resources, time, money and energy spent on recruiting, testing, selecting, training and supervising salespeople each year, only to start over again the next year. Imagine if this happened in the other professions!
7. Yet, this is nothing compared to the cost to the economy in lack of productivity or the human costs in ‘psychic currency’: missed opportunities, burnt territories, customer disservice, tarnished company reputations, poor morale and the stigma of failure. Perhaps the time has come to step back and take an objective look at the situation.
8. The Failure of Sales Training
9. The breathtaking failure of sales training is one of the legendary business phenomena of our time. When compared to other managements, sales managements around the world have demonstrated a poor level of professional competence in this critical area. In fact, a management that regularly turns over 80 per cent of its workforce can hardly be considered management at all! If an investigative journalist team examined the sales industry at management level, they would uncover the greatest business scandal since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
10. Marketplace Distrust of Sales Profession
11. In 1980, George Gallup told me that in the annual Gallup Poll on honesty and ethics, which asked the US marketplace to rate 24 professions and occupations on whether ‘the honesty and ethical standards’ of those in the field were from ‘very high’ to ‘very low’, the five worst professions were:
20 labor leaders
21 state officeholders
22 insurance salespeople
23 advertising practitioners
24 car salespeople.
12. Here’s a profession that cannot even sell itself to the public so it’s no surprise that its failure to sell its products and services has been so massive.
13. In the 2005 Gallup survey of honesty and ethics, firefighters topped the list, followed by nurses and members of the military in second and third places. Pharmacists, medical doctors and the clergy also received high marks. The biggest change was in the higher ratings received by the police, up 13 percentage points from the previous year. Car salesmen come in last, as they have for the past two and a half decades.
14. The Blaming of Salespeople
15. What is sad about this state of affairs is that sales managements have passed the buck onto their employees. Sales managers have behaved as though the conditions described here are the fault of the salespeople, when clearly they are the responsibilities of management.
16. For example, think of the number of sincere, enthusiastic young people who have been thrilled at their successful hiring and graduation from sales class. Trustingly putting their futures in the hands of incompetent sales managements, they have gone out into the field into hopeless selling situations that no experienced professional would ever dream of taking on. Failing (of course), they have been allowed – even encouraged – to think it was their fault. Meanwhile, management has already placed the advertisement for the next batch of sincere, enthusiastic young people . . . Believe it or not, this situation is still considered ‘normal’ by many sales managements in the insurance industry. They dispassionately call it ‘agent turnover’.
17. The Selling Profession
18. The economy needs competent sales management, since the selling profession is the back on which the economy rides. As a profession, it is principally responsible for the standard of living of the rest of the nation. Although, in a modern society, selling is easily as important a profession as the law, medicine, the church, science or the arts, the community scarcely perceives it that way. For this we pay a price we can ill afford. In a Woody Allen movie, the ultimate punishment in prison if you misbehaved was to be locked up in isolation . . . with an insurance salesman! Judging by the audience’s laughter, there were few who did not appreciate the joke.
19. Strategically, it never will be possible to change those 20/80 percentages until we do something to change the way the customer-base feels about the selling profession. This responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of current and future sales managements.
20. Rejection and Reluctance
21. One of the biggest causes for the failure of salespeople is rejection. I once saw a survey on the habits of salespeople which showed ‘call reluctance’ as the major area requiring the attention of sales management.
22. So sales managers tell their people, ‘Make calls! You gotta make more calls!’
23. Yet anyone who is in selling already knows he or she has to make calls; so what really is the problem here?
24. The real killer-blow of rejection is delivered to the salesperson by his own sales manager when he or she returns to the office. What does the sales manager say?
25. ‘DID YOU GET THE SALE?’
(I call this DYSHing the salesperson –
DYSH – Did You Sell Him/Her?).
26. ‘Er, not exactly, you see what happened was this, ah . . .’ and the salesperson really feels like a jerk. As a consequence, one common way salespeople avoid the rejection they feel when their sales managers DYSH them is this – they don’t make any calls.
27. No calls means, of course, they’re out of business. Dead. Killed by their own sales manager’s ‘Did-you-get-the-sale?’ preoccupation with results. So often we have found that salespeople with sales managers perform less productively than salespeople without sales managers. The only justification for the existence of a sales manager is the degree of service he or she provides to his or her salespeople. Mere scorekeeping is not the same as serving.
28. No Villains
29. To be fair, there are really no villains here. Salesperson abuse is like child abuse, it’s often hereditary. The reason so many sales managers abuse their salespeople is because they, themselves, were abused by their sales managers and it’s just been handed down from generation to generation. But the opportunity now exists or a new generation of sales managers to break the chain and to switch from DYSHing their salespeople to serving them as they would have their salespeople serve their customers.
30. Management is Service
31. If the sales manager is not serving the customer, then he or she had better be serving someone who is! .... Serving salespeople is the role of the professional sales manager..... Here’s what others have to say about the leader as servant:
And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all.
MALCOMN S. FORBES
Everybody has to be somebody to somebody to be anybody.
For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and
whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Who has not served cannot command.
The high destiny of the individual
is to serve rather than to rule.
32. A New Way of Selling
33. We have already discussed the insurance industry’s problems with agent turnover. To varying degrees, this problem affects the whole of the selling profession, which suffers more job losses than any other industry group. Sales managements spend more time recruiting, training, DYSHing and losing salespeople than they do serving them.
34. What if there were a better alternative to oldsell?
35. What would happen to rejection?
36. What would happen to call reluctance?
37. What would happen to the turnover of salespeople?
38. What would happen to the recruiting problem? How would customers feel about a salesperson?
39. What would be the image of salespeople and the prestige of the profession?
40. What would happen to salesman’s jokes?
41. There is a better alternative. It’s a new way of selling. I call it newsell.
This html-coded online version of the Wombat Final 15/5/06 -- wombatbook.pdf, was prepared by Darlene Sartore with some minor adaptations and color texting, for use only by course presenters certified by Ideal Network Academy. Use permission herein granted from author Michael Hewitt-Gleeson on March 5, 2007.
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