We Have Failed Our Salespeople

We Have Failed Our Salespeople

This abysmal poll is not a salesperson fail. It’s a system fail.

And any of us that touch, direct, write, or program sales activities, we have failed. We’ve also failed our customers and our prospects; terrific humans who need our solutions but we can’t break through to them with bland, repetitive messages stamped on to soggy bread, hurled at their faces. Which of course, every other sales org in the cosmos is following this exact same program.

But let’s be very clear who is at fault here and it isn’t our salespeople. Their names are on this dreck, sure. But it’s the system crafting and scaling the program and the salestech or martech affixing their names to it.

And quite frankly none of us need a twitter poll to show how little value Sales Outreach provides;  every day we are all flooded with a misery of sales outreach in mail, via social, and ffs via our LinkedIn inboxes (“we both have knees, let’s connect”).

Between the tech meant to scale outreach and “personalization” and whatever the faff du jour is on what’s unproven but accepted as dogma (speed to lead, anyone?), we invest in great salespeople and then force them to carry out these nonsense cadences. In fact, our systems are so untrusting of salespeople that we build and execute the cadences for them and just slap their name on it because … personalization … AI … scale … growth hacking.

We know this doesn’t work yet why is all the world following the literal same shite path? Why?

Laziness + infatuation with tech that promises miracles in automation and, yes, data. But is this the data we want or need?

I was lucky to start my career at the birthplace of modern selling: NCR Corporation in Dayton, Ohio. The guy who founded NCR invented sales training – brought salespeople in from all over the country, put them up in tents (this was around 1900 to start), trained them, then sent them out across the country to have conversations and sell.

I was beyond lucky to fall in to this amazing, rich B2B atmosphere right out of University, a place btw where B2B was never part of the curriculum.

I love sales people and sales leaders. Some of my best development days were riding along with salespeople and prospects, customers, etc. Seeing how the best of the best sales people handled these conversations is something that is not replicable any other way. Great salespeople are often the smartest, most intuitive people I know.

So how is it exactly that we’ve gone from that ^ to the dreck we are all pumping in to the market today?

Regardless, how do we stop this reckless, pathetic train we are all on? What can save us?

The words, the message.

Regardless the channel or the asset, your entire chain needs a message audit.

Here’s the plan:

For now, gently set down the tech and your cadences. Step away. They’ll still be there when you get back. Promise. You’ll probably even get to use them again.

Start above the funnel and follow all the way through to where SDRs hand off to AEs (we’ll go further than that in a later project). Here’s what I want you to assess:

  1. Targeted Keywords
    • What are they?
    • Who’s identified them?
    • Have Product, Marketing, Sales, Success agreed on them?
    • Do they align with the messages throughout the funnel and opportunity pipeline?
  2. What do your ads say?
    • Good news: your ads are shite as are your competitors. They add little value today. Your team is probably paying far more attention to “look and feel” than words. Want to see for yourself? Go to moat.com and look up your own ads, your competitors, ads for the global behemoths. With few exceptions, these ads are terrible, wrapped in pretty. Sometimes, not even pretty.
    • Regardless, your marketing and sales teams need to know the message bringing people in, when they actually convert on an ad, which is rare fair enough
    • But if the message was compelling, how many more conversions could we get there?
  3. Which emails are getting the most traction and what message trend can you see?
  4. What message are your leads converting on?
    • Ads, landing pages, mails – what are the consistent themes? Are there any?
  5. Is there a marketing to sales handover message? Or do SDRs start with a standard script irrespective of the prospect path to them?
    • Worse, do they mention a generic event in their first sentence to the prospect: “Hey what did you think of the webinar?” or “Hi it’s so and so did I catch you at a bad time?”
  6. What is the SDR script for all their touchpoints? Does it align to the messaging that brought the lead in?
    • Audit mails, live calls as well as voicemails.
    • Are SDRs looking at the marketing automation notes in the CRM to ascertain how to adjust their conversation and questions? Are they trained to do this?
  7. Same questions for when SDRs hand over to AEs?
    • What is the script for all their initial touchpoints? Does it align to the messaging that brought the lead in?
    • Audit mails, live calls as well as voicemails.
    • Are AEs looking at the marketing automation notes in the CRM to ascertain how to adjust their conversation and questions? Are they trained to do this?

This is not a holistic list for a full audit but a great start. At every step of the way, a cross-functional assessment team might well be horrified by the messages you’re putting out in the market. From above the funnel through to hand off to AEs. But this same team can absolutely put it to rights.

Need help getting started, ask me.

And this is the easiest part.

The hard part? Overcoming toxic territorialism between functional areas. (I know a book called Moats & Drawbridges that can help you out with the hard part).

Managing Director

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