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Are Your Sales Metrics a House of Cards?

May 13, 2024
Focusing solely on numbers, at the expense of training and teambuilding, hurts organizations in the long run.

“Talladega Nights,” which happens to be one of my wife’s all-time favorite movies, is famous for lines like, “Dear 8 pound, 6 ounce newborn infant Jesus” and “Shake & Bake!” But perhaps the biggest catchphrase in the movie is one touted by so many in sales and leadership:

“If you’re not first, you’re last!”

Driven by metrics, quotas, and revenue goals, it's easy to see how mantras like these drive a mentality where the #1 salesperson makes the most money, gets the most resources and is promoted to higher levels at a faster rate.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying any of this is bad. As they say in the Navy Seals, “It pays to be a winner.”

However, it has also created a paradigm in sales of winning at all costs. While numbers are important, how you achieve them matters even more. The excellence from which the business is earned is a standard that should never be lowered in the pursuit of producing numbers.

Not only that, this standard of excellence should be the driving force behind every aspect of our business and the foundation of how we build our teams and engage our customers.

Think about this for a second:

80% of B2B customers expect a B2B experience that is as good or better than a B2C experience. (Source: Accenture B2B Customer Experience Report, 2021)

89% of B2B customers are likely to switch to a competitor after a single negative experience. (Source: Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, 2022)

85% of prospects and customers report dissatisfaction with their on-the-phone experience with sales reps. (Source: Customer Service Benchmark Report, 2022)

90% of business executives think customers highly trust their companies, but only 30% of consumers actually do. (Source: Edelman Trust Barometer, 2021)

86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. (Source: Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report, 2022)

Here’s the good news: All of these challenges can be overcome with an intentional focus on training and development.

Purpose over products: At the core of every business is the purpose for why they exist—not for the numbers, status or money, but because someone saw a need they believed they could fulfill. They are serving customers with products, services or solutions that help them achieve their goals, overcome challenges and alleviate pain. A Deloitte study showed that purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow on average 3x faster than their competition.

In her book, "Selling with Noble Purpose,” author Lisa McLeod shows that salespeople with a noble purpose—who truly want to make a difference in their customers' lives—outperform financially driven sales professionals.

Train professionals like professionals: Companies that invest in continuous, comprehensive training—not just onboarding sessions—see remarkable improvements. Sales teams that are regularly trained on not just sales techniques but also on customer service and emotional intelligence report:

  • 50% higher net sales
  • 10% higher win rates
  • 218% higher income per employee
  • Reduced annual turnover by 30-40% (Sales Management Association, 2011)

Implementing these strategies involves more than just periodic workshops; it requires a commitment to an ongoing, evolving training program that adapts to new challenges and technologies. This can include everything from traditional workshops to virtual-reality simulations that allow salespeople to practice and hone their skills in realistic, controlled environments. 

Schneider Electric, one of 2022’s Best Companies to Work For, offers training and development to all of its employees, giving them multiple different ways to access the training, whether it’s in person or virtually. They encourage their employees to set goals around personal development, and then provide them with opportunities to grow in those specific areas—along with others that the company deems important.

Measure impact to drive improvement: It’s essential to track the effectiveness of your training programs using metrics that reflect both sales performance and customer satisfaction. This dual focus ensures that training programs are not just improving bottom-line results but are also enhancing the customer's experience with your company.

By rethinking sales training to focus more on the quality of customer interactions and aligning those interactions more closely with company values, businesses can not only increase their sales and customer retention rates but also build a more motivated, engaged and loyal sales team.

This holistic approach ensures that excellence in customer service becomes a key differentiator in a competitive market, leading to sustained growth and profitability.

Jonathan Darling is the North American Sales Leader for Robex, a robotic integrator focusing on end-of-line packaging automation.  He is 3x author, has spoken for universities and Fortune 100 organizations and has coached sales & leadership to teams from all over the world.

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