STOP! Now! Run a List of Your Sales People Who Have Unsubscribed From Your Company's Content Emails
No. I'm not joking. Change their passwords and reassign their projects and accounts. Fire them before CoB! Pay them a couple weeks and get on with running your company.
Let's unpack why this is non-negotiable. That action (their unsubscribing):
- reveals intellectual laziness and lack of curiosity
- demonstrates they won't use the marketing created content, in which you've invested, to assist in their sales process and to empower deal "champions" to sell throughout the account
- indicates that they don't understand the compressed roles of marketing and sales, buying preferences, and therefore, how to effectively sell in today's markets
- shows that their research will be shoddy because they're unwilling to process large volumes of industry information - they won't research prospects with the rigor required for success in complex capital equipment sales these days
- hints at an arrogance which will render them uncoachable
Why Is Management Afraid Of Sales People?
How many sales teams are populated by folks that NEVER make quota? And yet refuse to use CRM; refuse to adopt coached techniques; refuse to prospect aggressively; refuse to role play & debrief; refuse to ask hard questions; refuse to identify and engage entire complex buying teams; refuse to research companies and buyers; refuse to even turn expense reports in according to policy but still expect to be reimbursed, etc...
That's a lot of refusal.
That's the point.
You wouldn't tolerate this from any other function in your company. Or from yourself.
Why do you tolerate it from sales?
If they're not closing deals, then it doesn't matter how much they are "doing" - they're a waste of your time and money.
Stop excusing mediocrity and excuses - you don't accept them from yourself, but when you accept that crap from sales, everyone in the company sees it. It lowers you in their estimation, and creates cultural barriers with the sales team.
Great sales people will yearn to be challenged, coached and trained - just as great athletes seek help to become even better. But the vast majority of sales people will resist sales training (or endure it with their heads buried in their phones) even as you constantly lower expectations hoping they'll just do something so you can justify avoiding the disruption and discomfort of doing what you know needs to happen.
The Point of This Rant is This
Capital equipment sales is hard, and getting harder. At the same time standards are being lowered in the majority of companies I can observe.
Nobody is benefiting - particularly not management that bears the weight of non-performance nor other stakeholders.
And that means even for seemingly minor actions - when they belie much larger, inhibiting mindsets and disregard for the company's collective efforts and success.
Before you squander resources on refining your manufacturing sales strategy, debating appropriate digital strategy for manufacturers or noodling your digital marketing strategy (much less the tactics which are normally the actual content of misnamed "strategy" discussions), you've got to cowboy up to fix your sales problem.
- All of this assumes you're actually producing content that is worthwhile. If the content is rubbish then you should fire your marketing team today (and consider replacing yourself if you've supported that waste of money and degradation of your company's brand!) But if you're actually answering questions that your ideal customers (you have an ICP, right?) are asking at all stages of the buying journey, providing insights via various channels (text, video, podcast, downloads, events, infographics, guest content, etc.), and introducing thought provoking ideas to challenge their business status quo, then great sales people would be eager to consume it. Ergo, if you are, and yours aren't, they aren't great. Call that a CESS (capital equipment sales syllogism.)
- If you haven't already stipulated that they subscribe (and connect social media accounts to share your company's new content automatically on their profiles) then you've dropped the ball. Do that immediately - and set up a notification workflow in HubSpot, or whatever marketing automation system you use, to automatically notify you when one of your sales team unsubscribes.
- This is one of many reasons why using a CRM is also non-negotiable. When you need to fire a rep, when one quits, is hurt in a serious car accident, etc. the business must carry on. If you're unsure whether your CRM is accurate, you'll hesitate to make the right decision for the business. When you hesitate, you establish a new lower bar for acceptable performance and ALL your reps will know. (I've even seen companies where reps refuse to use corporate email, relying instead on LinkedIn messages, so that management can't see who they're working with!)
- You might consider extending this to your indirect sales channel too. You know, those folks for whom you never provide enough leads, high enough margin, or adequate training? Seems that perhaps they just weren't interested if they've unsubscribed from your company's information
The fact that you have other obligations, higher priorities, that recruiters are expensive, that good sales people are rare, and any other excuse you might want to use, is irrelevant.
If you accept them from yourself, then you'll naturally accept them from buyers with whom you can empathize, but who you know need your solution.
You're right. You should never have hired them to begin with. Guess what...it's not the last mistake you'll make. Get over it - literally and figuratively.
And then of course, if you dawdle, be sure to quantify the opportunity cost of what's NOT happening in their territory while you wrestle with other "priorities."