Don’t Tell Me What You Want. Show Me What You Do to Be Effective.

Don’t tell me what you think the market is going to do. Show me what’s in your portfolio.Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

A friend of mine was trying to hire a sales training company to help him improve his sales. He looked at several companies, and in doing so, he paid careful attention to how they sold their services. Since all of these companies also were in B2B sales, he believed that the way they sold their services would be the best way to understand what they would teach his sales force. Instead of conceptualizing it, he would experience it.

His experience was not at all what he thought it might be, with most of the sales groups performing poorly, most acting in opposition to what their programs might have recommended. More still, none of the groups followed up, and because he provided them with an RFP, they all limited their communication with him, being respectful of the process.

It was impossibly difficult for him to choose a company to help him, having experienced a conflict between their word and their actions.

Your Actions and Your Words

Don’t tell me what you believe about selling effectively. Let me see what you do.

There isn’t anyone who works in sales who would tell you that they don’t want—or need—more sales. None would say to you that they don’t want to make more money or experience more success. Few would be willing to admit that they don’t wish they had more opportunities in their sales pipeline, the starting point for making more sales.

More Opportunities: It is one thing to say you want more opportunities. It’s another thing altogether to pick up the phone and ask prospects for a meeting, let alone design and maintain a prospecting sequence that allows you to professionally and persistently pursue your dream client over time. Wanting more opportunities and not doing the work to create provides the same outcome as not wanting the opportunities.

More Wins: There isn’t a b2b salesperson anywhere that doesn’t want to win more of the deals they compete to win. Few, however, work to improve their ability by reading books, watching YouTube videos, taking courses, or studying and following proper processes and the practical methodologies that would improve their win rates. Instead, we do what we’ve always done, getting the same result and having the same sales year over and over.

Treated like a Partner: A modern sales approach requires the salesperson to possess the business acumen and situational knowledge to be able to provide their client with advice that would improve their results. They need to be subject matter experts at the intersection of their company and their client’s company, understanding their challenges and how they best overcome them.

While b2b salespeople will suggest they want to be treated as a strategic partner and a trusted advisor, too few do the work of reading, studying, and paying attention to what’s going on in their client’s world.

Higher Price: No one wants to discount their price to win deals, something that damages their margins and often harms their clients by reducing the investment in the results they need and making it more challenging to execute for them. Mostly, salespeople complain about being treated like a commodity without making the adjustments necessary to be treated differently.

Because they sell a level of value that is too low to command a more significant investment, they struggle to justify the investment or differentiate their offering from their competitor’s offering (See Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition).

Activity and Effectiveness

When there is a gap between what you profess to want and your reality, there are two variables you need to consider, one or both of which prevent you from producing better results. The first is activity, and the second is effectiveness.

If you really wanted more opportunities and more deals, you would spend more time prospecting and meeting with potential clients. A more accurate description of what you want might be something like, “I want someone to give me the opportunities without me having to do the work to create them myself.”

The chasm between what you profess to want and the outcome is your activity or your effectiveness, or both. Mostly, it’s probably a lack of action, which is always cured by more work, although it never hurts to improve the effectiveness of your approach.

Your win rate is a measure of your effectiveness in pursuing and winning new deals. It is not an activity problem; it is an effectiveness problem. Everyone wants to win, but few do the work to improve their effectiveness. To improve your effectiveness, you would have to develop yourself personally (See The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need) and professionally.

You’d have to give some part of your time to studying your craft, learning how to engage better as a sales rep and serve your clients, and in doing so, making it easier for them to prefer you over your competition.

If there was a video camera watching your every move, would it prove you are pursuing what you want?

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