I was recently on a conference call with Sauro Lamberti, Managing Director of Nuovamacut in Italy. We were talking about the digital transformation that Nuovamacut is proposing for their EMEA salesforce when Sauro said something incredibly insightful about transforming their sales team:
“In the 1960’s, a runner ran under 10 seconds at the Olympics. If the world was happy with that, we would still be running 10 seconds. But year-by-year, there needs to be incremental improvements. Milliseconds separate winning and losing. The small things are the big things…
My sales team is exactly like the those Olympic runners. Year-by-year, we need to increase the yield and performance of each sales rep. If they don’t improve, the will lose the race!”
I had never heard sales performance improvement analogized like this. It was so clear. Greatness is separated by incremental improvements, not necessarily wild diversions.
So then the next question appeared in my mind. If incremental improvements in sales performance was so logical to Sauro, why was it so foreign to thousands of other sales leaders?
Here is my Freudian Analysis:
1) Sauro recognizes the importance of continuous learning
Like other digital leaders we’ve worked with, I know Sauro is a continuous learner. His knowledge of modern sales best practices is impressive. This knowledge comes from books, podcasts, social networks, webinars, live conferences, anything to learn more about the digital wave hitting the shores of sales. Sauro knows, just like a runner, that learning a new stance, block position or shoe model, will be the difference between winning and losing.
In a 2015 Deloitte Study, Global Human Capital Trends 2015, 85% of the respondents cited learning as being either important or very important. Yet, according to the study, more companies than ever report they are unprepared to address this challenge.
By its nature, social selling encourages continual learning through insight sharing. If reps and managers follow a simple 30-minute routine every day, they’re exposed to content that constantly affirms, challenges or adds to their professional viewpoints.
2) Sauro is hands-on with his coaching, and can clearly see there are gaps in the sales process
I know Sauro is a coach because he knew exactly what the sales team needed to improve. This doesn’t come from managing behind a desk, watching Salesforce.com and spreadsheets. This comes with 1-on-1’s with sales reps, being on calls and hearing the customer. Sauro knows, just like a runner, the coach doesn’t coach from the press box, but on the track.
According to the International Coach Federation, “the average company can expect a return of 7 times the initial investment in coaching.” And research from Corporate Executive Board shows that “sales reps who receive just three hours of coaching a month exceed their goals by 7%, boosting revenue by 25% and increasing the average close rate by 70%.”
3) Sauro is data-driven and sees how incremental improvements at scale drive massive resultsco
I know Sauro is a data-driven leader because he knew his numbers. As Peter Drucker famously says, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Sauro also probably knows that top teams are 3.5x more likely to use sales analytics. He’s probably seen how leads are driven socially, and how social networks create incredible referral opportunities. Sauro knows, just like a runner, every day, week, month, year, dropping a millisecond is the difference between winning and losing. And data can help you stay that millisecond ahead.
The question I want you to ask yourself is this: Are you going to find any competitive advantage you can to drop milliseconds off your runners time?
Are you going to give them incremental sales performance opportunities to better run? Or are you going to let them loose the race?