Over many years, I have noticed a similar pattern with some companies and individuals involved in sales. This pattern seems to have intensified during the pandemic where salespeople are seeking new ways to grow their businesses as for many, the traditional sales strategies of in-person meetings and attending conferences and trade shows are no longer an option.
However, the pattern and the thinking is nothing new:
Revenue is flat or declining, or just not doing as well as hoped.
The company or individual invests in sales training and/or a technology-based prospecting and sales tool. There is often the unconscious thought (or unspoken hope and a prayer) that the training or tool is some magic shiny object that with very little work or habit changing will automatically deliver qualified leads and closed business.
Because there is a learning curve, and because the training or tool is something new - and new can be uncomfortable and takes time - the salesperson(s) eventually returns to prospecting and selling the same way as was done in the past.
Sales improvement does not occur.
The sales training and/or tool is deemed "not worth the money" and is cancelled or discarded.
Sales continue to falter and the process starts all over again.
Whether it's a CRM system, online prospecting resources, and/or any of the myriad of sales training programs available, I see the above scenario repeat itself over, and over, and over.
Yet simple math says it should not be that way.
As an example, with sales and prospecting resources like LinkedIn's Sales Navigator, ZoomInfo, and the Sales Intel Engine, it is virtually impossible - if you spend just 10 minutes per day - to not generate at least one real lead per day. Factoring in vacation time, that’s...
240 new leads per year;
At a close rate of 5% and an average order size of $5,000;
That’s $60,000 in new annual revenue.
I'll use the Intel Engine as the example because I have the data to compare:
The cost of the Engine is $39 per month. That's less than the cost of one cup of coffee per day (and that’s gas station coffee).
Using the above example numbers, the Intel Engine provides a virtually guaranteed 12,720% return on investment.
Not Bernie Madoff, not buying and then selling Game Stop stock in mid-January 2021, not even being the first investor in Amazon provides that kind of an ROI.
The majority of Intel Engine users use the tool and use it often, some even daily. When I see who logs in on a regular basis and I ask them "how are things going," to a person, the regular user reports an increase in sales, some dramatically. Whether that's an individual who uses the Premium or a Custom Intel Engine, or a company that has invested in the Enterprise Value-Add Program, those who are regular daily users see impressive results. I am sure the same is true for Sales Navigator, ZoomInfo, and other sales tools, or they would not be as successful as they are, nor receive the positive reviews that they do.
Yet there are a few Intel Engine users who login once or twice and then ultimately cancel. When I see users who cancel their membership and then I review their usage statistics, I often see very few logins. When I ask "why did you cancel," the response I almost always receive is: "We're having a tough year so we need to cut expenses where we can."
Cut expenses? A gas-station cup of coffee per day expense is what is going to help you hit your bottom line results?
In speaking with others in the sales training world, and others in the sales and prospecting software tool business the results are, not surprisingly, similar. Those who take the time to use the training and tools see results. Those who have unrealistic expectations that somehow the training or tools will magically deliver qualified leads without any work are the salespeople who do not see results.
Investing time and money in training and tools and then cancelling without ensuring that salespeople are held accountable for using the training and/or tools, to me, is illogical. The exact reason companies or individuals invested in the training or the tools was because they weren't hitting their numbers and they needed to try something different. Now they're going to cancel the exact program that might have made a difference if they had actually given it a chance and put in some real effort. What are these companies or individuals going to try new next time?
"The definition of sales insanity is doing the same thing over and over an expecting different results."
Here's the real bottom line: sales is hard. Sales in a virtual environment is even harder. Learning how to use new tools and sell differently - for example, using an online tool to identify Sales Triggers and prospects versus cold calling a list starting at A and ending at Z - is hard. Taking the time to learn, and try, and tweak, and learn some more and implement the process every day is even harder.
Yet it works.
We know it works because there are thousands of users of the Intel Engine, and hundreds of thousands of users of ZoomInfo and Sales Navigator and millions of salespeople and companies that take advantage of other sales tools and training.
So as an organization and an individual salesperson, you have a choice. You can take the time to learn and use the technology tools, resources, and training provided to you or that you've invested in individually. Or you can try it a few times, give up because it's maybe hard and certainly different, and then repeat your cycle of frustration.
Either option will work, assuming that "the old way of doing things" produced at least some results and revenue. Yet only one option gives you the chance to improve and to hit those larger sales goals. Doing things differently is a choice. Most important, it is the only choice if you are seeking different results.