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Salespeople are not "widgets" and Prospects are not "opportunities"

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Salespeople are NOT widgets. Prospects are NOT “opportunities”.

There, I’ve said it.

Marketing vs. Sales Dominance

In today’s corporate world, senior management clings to the belief that “activity drives revenue”. I beg to differ. I believe it is “quality activity that drives revenue”.

So how did we get here? There are two forces at work that have evolved to create this environment. The first is the emphasis on marketing analytics. Management is drawn to anything that can help them measure progress. This has led to the dominance of the marketing organization over the sales organization in terms of budget, manpower and respect in most corporate environments. But also keep in mind that these analytics rarely measure quality. It is hard to predict which leads generated by the marketing team will turn into clients.

CRM Tools have limitations

The second force is the continued improvement in CRM tools with ever more finite ways to measure salesperson activity. The basic assumption here is that salespeople are easily interchangeable parts, or widgets, that can be manipulated to hit activity targets as defined by management. However, these tools can only measure activity at the task level. In essence, they measure volume but not engagement. Senior management teams have conflated the level of CRM-measurable activity with prospect engagement. This is totally false.

In my career I was rarely the team member who had the best “efficiency” numbers, but routinely the one who had the best sales results, by a factor of 2X or 3X. I attribute this success to my focus on developing true relationships with prospects and focusing all my attention on solving their business problems. In doing so, the transactional part of the relationship (demos, proposals, sales) flow naturally. Deals close in much less time, for more revenue and with less competition than engaging with a prospect on a purely transactional level.

As the enterprise selling arena is being constrained by current economic conditions, there is no better time to reconsider the unique value of each salesperson as an individual with skills that can ultimately make the difference in whether a deal closes or is lost.

Relationships and Prospect Trust are the Key to Success

Developing salesperson relationship-building and engagement skills is not something that can be achieved by enforcing more dashboards on the CRM. It requires training that will help them build their emotional intelligence, paired with a comprehensive sales engagement approach. These are the KEY skills your sales team will need to weather this current economic storm.

Building the Salesforce for this Decade

Since retiring last year, I have been developing an online sales training program that incorporates all the key fundamentals of my sales engagement approach, including a series of exercises to help enterprise salespeople learn how to form quality relationships. Each module provides tools to determine baseline skillsets and to chart progress in emotional intelligence skills over time. My goal with this program is to teach each salesperson how to “Sell bigger, better deals faster than ever before”. I will be offering this program through my G.O.A.T. Selling Academy.

I hope you will keep an eye on this space for the formal announcement of my launch.

Learn more at

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