I have yet to meet a senior executive who doesn’t agree that agility is important in business. At Forrester’s 2011 Sales Enablement Forum, Forrester CEO George Colony shared some of his research with fellow CEOs. He asked a simple question; "Are you satisfied that your sales force is advancing your strategy?" The answer was a resounding "No!" Giving their sales forces an average grade of C- [read the full post here]. George’s research found that CEOs have the following problems with their sales forces:
- “Speed.” The sales force is always 12 to 18 months behind strategy.
- “Calling too low.” Sales reps aren’t getting to power.
- “The sales force can’t tell the story.” The focus is on price and not on the full value and quality of products.
- “We have the wrong people.” Not smart enough; not tuned in to the market.
Cleary CEOs are looking for more agility from sales.
When it comes to helping salespeople be more agile, I often hear comments from sales managers and sales trainers like; "we need to keep it simple," or "we need to deliver information in bite-sized chunks." When did simplicity become the path to overcoming complexity? In the words of Alan Perlis, “Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses [overcome] it.” In other words, if you're "keeping it simple," you better do it in a way that tackles complexity head on – a challenge being discussed over in our online community right now – what does "keep it simple really mean?".
From Sales Complexity Comes Sales Chaos
During the past 10 years, I’ve worked with a lot of salespeople and across the stand-out top performers I found a few consistent patterns. Guess what one of those patterns was? That’s right, the ability to overcome complexity through agility. To rise above the chaos. To find a way to focus on the right things and not get wrapped around the axle. Before I joined Forrester, I teamed up with a colleague, Tim Ohai, and wrote a book about it. We wrote Sales Chaos to provide a no-holds-barred explanation of what professional selling has become: a place where pattern identification is critical for salespeople to learn in order to overcome the complexity they face. To read more about helping salespeople overcome complexity, check out www.saleschaos.com.