Is It the Best of Times? Or Is It the Worst of Times? The Choice is Yours.

Seems like there’s a new disaster every day: Wildfires, hurricanes, volcanos, shootings, terrorist attacks, threats of nuclear attack; the list is endless. Yet, behind all the sensational and scary headlines, there’s good news. There are incredible advances in medical science. Many people are alive and thriving, including me, who would not have made it a few years ago.

Look beyond the headlines and you’ll find all kinds of evidence of the goodness of mankind, all kinds of “feel good” stories.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

  • Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Playing loosely with the words, Charles Dickens wrote over 150 years ago, it can be the best of times or it can be the worst of times. It all depends on your perspective. 

“Is the glass half full or is the glass half empty?”

Those of us in sales and sales management, live in a time of great change. Our customers have access to incredible amounts of information. Some people even suggest traditional salespeople are going the way of the dinosaur. They would have us believe that professional selling is being replaced by social media. Not true, and here are a few statistics:

  • Worldwide spending on sales technology, CRMs and sales software has tripled since 2010. In 2017, it was estimated to be $31 billion. It’s expected to reach $80 billion by 2025.

  • Sales training topped $2.6 billion worldwide in 2017.

OK. That’s some good news. Companies are investing in sales force development, making it the “best of times.” 

More good news, even though it’s kind of rooted in bad news. People are so overwhelmed with information, they have a tough time figuring out how to use it. They need professional salespeople, salespeople who are experts in the use of their products and service, to help them make the right buying decisions.

It can indeed be the best of times for those of us who embrace technology to help us better serve our customers. It keeps us on track, makes us more efficient and helps us stay in touch. Sure, it requires ongoing learning, but successful people never stop growing.

The bad news? It can be the worst of times if we expect technology to do our jobs for us. It won’t! People still buy from people. Yes, we’ve come a long way with technology, but Artificial Intelligence is not at the point where it can have a heartfelt conversation with our customers. Personally, I don’t think it ever will, but I’ve been wrong before.

“The sales process may have changed somewhat but, at the end of the day, it’s still about human interaction and relationships.”

What can you do to make it the best of times?

  • If you’re a salesperson, keep learning and use whatever technology and advances make sense for you. But, don’t ever forget, it’s all about what’s in the best interest of your customer. And never underestimate the value of relationships.

  • If you’re a sales manager, don’t be an armchair general. Sure, study the numbers and run virtual sales meetings, but spend most of your time with your salespeople. Here’s a little food for thought:

    • 85% of the resources invested in sales force training and development is wasted. That’s right. Not a typo. 85% is lost and gone within 90 days.

    • Why? Because of lack of follow-up and accountability from sales management.

    • Great sales management has been proven to be the single most important factor in making the numbers. Unfortunately, 90% of sales management executives do a poor job.

  • If you’re an owner or president, focus on building a great sales organization. Understand that companies who are reaching their sales and profit goals don’t just throw money and technology at their sales teams. They focus on great sales management. They also put the right salespeople and processes in place. As Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, said:

“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

I’m Oliver Connolly, an eternal optimist, and I help owners and sales managers build a sales organization that makes the numbers.

Contact me at oliver@streetsmartsalesmanagement.com and see if I can help you.

Check out my website https://www.streetsmartsalesmanagement.com for some FREE STUFF on sales and sales management.

Oliver Connolly