Trending This Week: What Causes Substandard Sales Engagement?

Recent research shows that successfully selling to today’s buyers starts with training sales leaders in modern approaches.

May 12, 2017

  • Businessman Holding Head in Frustration

Given the well-documented ineffectiveness of cold, non-personalized outreach, it’s hard to understand why some sales reps still rely on it. We suspected that sales reps may not be getting the training they need, which is why we created an eBook that helps sales pros understand and implement a smarter way to engage prospective buyers.  

Research recently confirmed our hunch regarding lack of training. In their 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report, CSO Insights explored why we’re seeing quota attainment on the decline as investments in sales enablement rise. 

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Who’s Behind the Wheel?

CSO Insights compared sales leaders to drivers, pointing out that we all need to be taught the ins and outs of driving to earn a license. Even then, it takes time on the road to master the intricacies of driving. Ultimately, most drivers drive naturally, without giving it much thought. As CSO Insights says, we achieve a level of “unconscious competence” that allows us to respond quickly and effectively when we’re thrown a curve ball. Picture a child running out in front of the car or someone swerving into our lane without warning. Experienced drivers can usually react in split seconds to avoid a mishap.

CSO Insights draws an analogy between being trained to drive and being trained to lead a sales team. The fact is, very few sales managers receive formal training. Instead they are sent out “on the road” and expected to lead by example without a license, so to speak. They pass along whatever habits they picked up from their own managers, good or bad. And in stressful situations, the worse habits tend to rise to the surface.

Failing to Enable Sales Leaders

If their own managers did not get schooled in social selling, it’s no wonder so many sales reps struggle to excel with a modern approach to engagement. It means they are either being taught traditional tactics that no longer work, or fall back to traditional tactics at the first sign of stress.

The research shows that organizations are not taking advantage of their sales enablement investments. As the report underscores, “even if your sales managers received some training when they were first promoted, why should we assume that the skills they were taught carry forward to the roles they are expected to fulfill today? We’ve already noted that sales is in a period of rapid transformation and that salespeople need to adapt. Shouldn’t sales managers be taught to adapt as well?”

Evolving from Sales 1.0 to Sales 3.0

CSO Insights calls managers who are behind the times “Sales 1.0” managers. It then defines the next evolution of sales managers and teams:

  • Sales 2.0: This generation of sales recognizes empowered committees of buyers are in more control but still seek expert guidance in making a purchase decision. Here the sales team calls upon tools like social media to better engage buyers.
  • Sales 3.0: At this stage, sales organizations build upon Sales 2.0 to apply technology so they can even more effectively do their jobs.

The report explains that “Sales 2.0 and Sales 3.0 are all about adapting salespeople to the reality of smarter buyers’ changing behaviors…unless your sales managers adapt their management techniques, they will become a drag on performance and keep even the most forward-thinking sales enablement initiatives from reaching their full potential.”

The takeaway for managers and sales pros alike? You don’t have to rely on someone else to get you up to speed on the practices that engage today’s buyers. Inadequate training is no match for proactive learning.

To learn more ways to effectively engaging today’s B2B buyers, download our eBook, LinkedIn’s Definitive Guide to Smarter Sales Engagement