Do your sales teams still wear flares? For those who missed the ‘70s, Wikipedia describes flares as “a style of trousers that become wider from the knees downward, forming a bell-like shape of the trouser leg”.
Given that the 1970s were a long time ago, your sales teams are probably not still wearing flares. However, are they still behaving like their forefathers of that era? In the 1970s information was at a premium and the often-hapless customer was dependent on the salesmen and women of the time to provide them with the information they needed on markets, products and new innovations.
In the ‘70s, sales people used desk presenters to help facilitate their pitches. Fast-forward 40 years and the only thing that has changed is the desk presenter has been usurped by iPads, laptops, online access and sales playbooks etc. Therefore while it is very unlikely that your sales team would turn up to a sales meeting wearing flares, it is likely their sales approach is similar to their flare-clad counterparts who did.
Unchaperoned by management, the modern sales person turns up, turns on their gadget and throws up all kinds of facts about their company and products. (I exaggerate and generalise for effect… but only slightly). However (and with great danger of stating the obvious) the sales landscape has changed beyond all recognition:
So, do your sales teams engage with your customers reflective of this or are they still metaphorically wearing flares! Further, as organisations are we still training them as if they do?
At the ‘coal face’ the challenges of selling in the 21st century has changed, but the training simply hasn’t kept pace. The challenges modern sales people face are much more governed by the mental side of their work, in that there are more demands on their time and mental capacity, and these have the propensity to inhibit their personal effectiveness. The demands are:
On top of all this, sales people are asked to sell to the c-suite, deliver business insights, take control of the sale and the decision making process, and deliver accurate sales forecasts – all of which demand high levels of cognition, impacted negatively by the ‘always on’, 24/7 culture.
Given the seismic shift in the way people buy, Millennial sales teams need to be trained like top athletes, i.e. on the mental side of their work. They need to be given the tools, techniques and mental constructs they need in order to enhance self-determination, clear thinking, focus, resilience, motivation and self-confidence – training which is no longer available from traditional sources. Training in process and methodology in the 21st century is adequate, but is not sufficient to metaphorically take the flares off sales people.