What is your company’s real sales problem?

From the constant stream of sales training enquires we receive at BOOM! Sales every year, the most common enquiry is a request to help address a “conversion problem”. 

What’s interesting and indeed insightful about this particular problem is upon deeper investigation, the commonly identified “conversion problem” is rarely the real problem; it’s nearly always a symptom of a more complex and deeper issue.

It must be said, historically salespeople have been known to bend the truth from time-to-time, but the numbers don’t lie. In fact, our research data, compiled over 10 years working with high-performing salespeople and teams across industries, tells us that 92% of diagnosed conversion related problems are not diagnosed correctly. 

So what’s the real problem all sales driven organisations face and struggle to overcome? 

One of my old business partners had a rather unique philosophy for explaining this. He believed, with gusto, “that people are inherently problematic”. He applied this, albeit dubious, filter when evaluating employees. While I never saw eye-to-eye with him on this view, there is some merit in his mantra. In fact, the more we work with and observe modern sales teams, the more we see and understand the real problem. 

The most common thread in all sales teams is of course, people. The most frequent mistake organisations make is in failing to hire and develop the right people and right sales leaders and guiding framework. For that reason, ‘people’ are the real problem. 

Your people are inherently problematic when they are:

  • Not fit for the role in the first place;
  • Rarely coached, trained or supported;
  • Have no clear role, process and purpose;
  • Disengaged and uninspired by their sales leader;
  • Drowning in a complacent culture;
  • Not appropriately measured and held accountable; and
  • Don’t see a future or inspiring vision ahead.

If conversion was the real problem, this issue would be a relatively quick fix. All that is typically required is the application of strategy and levers to negotiate more effectively. People, on the other hand, require more time, care and investment. Never a quick fix and for that reason routinely missed and overlooked. 

So the next time your sales analytics team raises the alarm and yelps, “conversion problem!” , carefully consider the root cause before reacting and cutting the bottom out of your margin. Remember, discount is the poor salesperson’s friend!

Instead, address the real problem first with the appropriate measures, leadership, coaching and support.

And surprise, surprise, you’ll no longer have a people problem, your biggest issue will be managing accelerated growth — a much better problem to have!

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