Why Johnny Can’t Sell

Johnny never worked in a bull pen. He was never surrounded by other salespeople, so he never heard their conversations with prospects, and he never heard their conversations with clients. Johnny never listened to how his peers dealt with the friction that is part of business. He also never heard the collaborative conversations that are necessary to winning deals.

Johnny works from home. He has to figure out for himself what he is supposed to do, how much he is supposed to do, and how to do it. Johnny is smart, and he is resourceful. But he doesn’t have a very good model of what his days and weeks should look like, so he lives in reactive mode, waiting for things to do to show up in his inbox, and responding as best he can.

Johnny’s manager never worked in a bullpen either. In fact, his manager never spent much time in the field with prospective clients at all. He was hired for his experience as a manager, and most of his background is in marketing. Johnny’s manager wants to help him, but a lot of what he does is really about serving the organization, not the salespeople themselves.

Johnny makes his face-to-face sales calls by himself. His manager has never been in Johnny’s territory, and he has never been on a ride-a-long. He feels like he does a good job in front of his prospective clients, but he doesn’t really have a frame of reference. He has no ideas what other people are doing differently, and he has no idea where his blind spots are.

Johnny spends four hours a week on internal meetings. Well, not meetings, but web meetings. He’s learned to use his iPad to browse the web, so that the meeting software shows him as attentive when he is logged in on his laptop. Most of these meetings are a waste of time, and his long sales cycle doesn’t really require a forecast update twice a week.

Johnny wants to do well. But Johnny can’t sell.

Filed under: Sales Acumen

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