The CEO of a medium-size gas production company was looking for ways to grow sales and increase the value of the company. His goal was to then sell the company once it had reached a particular size.
After evaluating the company’s sales force, we noticed that the sales people were not calling on all of the potential influencers and decision-makers. We also noticed that the sales team was not asking enough of the right questions, so that the resulting deals were much smaller in size and more difficult to close than necessary. Part of the problem was that the “sales” people were actually operations employees who had been given sales responsibility and they didn’t feel like they had the right to talk to executives.
We helped the sales people identify all of the stakeholders in a deal and determine what information they needed to find out. Then we started weekly coaching calls with the sales team to help develop some sales muscle. Each coaching call involved a combination of skills training, situational analysis, and mental conditioning.
The sales folks not only closed more deals but they also closed larger deals. Within seven months, they had closed enough deals to double the size of the company and enable it to be sold for a healthy multiple.
The Common Mistake
If you change the way a person thinks, you will change the way he or she performs. In this case study, the problem was the sales team’s discomfort in speaking with executives because they felt they were not entitled to talk to them. But the self-sabotage mindset comes in many different flavors. We see it when sales people fail to ask good business questions, fail to find value or discuss price, exhibit a strong need to be liked, insist on showing the whole 100-slide PowerPoint – and the list goes on and on. The real trick is to determine who can adapt quickly and who never will.