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All I Want for Xmas is Sales Serenity

Introduction As this year winds down, we’re all prone to contemplate the coming year.  Some things will change, some won’t. One of the latter being how companies are increasingly looking towards roles traditionally not associated with revenue generation, such as Project Managers and service delivery professionals, to contribute to sales targets. This shift raises important questions about the implications for these professionals.

The 'Why' Behind the Trend Two primary factors are driving this trend. Firstly, ever present cost savings – by leveraging existing staff in revenue-generation roles, companies can potentially reduce the need for a larger sales force. Secondly, there's always been a healthy sentiment of skepticism towards traditional sales roles in the consulting and technical services fields. There's a perception that non-sales professionals, due to their closer involvement with the product or service, offer more subject matter expertise and an authentic and less 'salesy' approach to clients.

The Argument Against Expecting non-revenue staff to take on sales responsibilities can be seen as unfair for several reasons:

  1. Skill Mismatch: These individuals are hired for their expertise in areas other than sales. Asking them to perform tasks they weren't trained for can lead to stress and job dissatisfaction.

  2. Divided Attention: Their primary role, which is crucial to the business, might suffer if they are also focusing on revenue generation.

  3. Potential Conflict of Interest: A project manager's goal is to deliver the project efficiently, which might conflict with the aim of maximizing revenue.

The Argument For Conversely, involving these professionals in sales makes sense due to:

  1. Deep Product or Service Knowledge: They often have a better understanding of the product, service, and the associated resources skills and tasks which can translate into more natural selling.

  2. Established Client Relationships: Their existing relationships with clients inspires more organic and trusted sales interactions.

  3. Business Acumen: Their supposed understanding of the business can enable them to identify and exploit revenue-generating opportunities that pure sales roles might miss.

The Gap in Sales Skills The crux of the issue is that while these professionals have the potential to contribute to revenue generation, they typically lack sales “know how”. While that know how might not be magic, it plays a role. You can try to bridge the gap by implementing sales training for this group, providing more tools and resources and orchestrating greater collaboration across the organization. The first and third alternatives here have been done before. The first, training, has been done to death with limited success. Obviously, people look at technology these days, but not just technology in its broadest sense - but artificial intelligence of course!

Leveraging Technology to Bridge the Gap In the era of a.i. traditional approaches to equipping non-sales staff with sales skills are no longer the only, or preferred, solution. a.i. driven tools can help in several ways. Currently, these tend to be focused on areas like Automated Lead Scoring and Qualification, Predictive Sales Analytics, Sales Assistance and Customized Learning Paths.

AI-Powered Sales Assistance: There’s a bunch of labels emerging, or being re-used, to categorize this collection of tools and software products: sales enablement, sales readiness, sales effectiveness. This space will get more crowded and noisier. Companies big and small are already appointing people to look at a.i. We’ll see more companies using a.i. as the first lens they look through as they contemplate their strategies. When it comes to a.i. for sellers, company leaders need to firstly decide what their view of sellers and the selling world really is, and what role does it play in their business. Then they can tool up accordingly.

This is particularly relevant to those leaders of services companies – consulting, professional services, technology consulting, etc. These companies have demonstrated indifference to the need for sellers but not the need for revenue! Hence, they park that problem with the partners and service delivery leaders. Often, when they do recruit dedicated sales teams, the support provided is weak – no training, little support, no respect – “figure it out yourselves, that’s why we hired you” type of attitude and a smirk when it fails. But the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth continues. It’s ok to decide sales teams are not your answer while remembering that revenue always is! If this is the case, then you have to sales enable your “non-sellers” accordingly.

Sales training isn’t the answer. It’s overcomplicated, clumsy, and poorly delivered. AI-powered sales assistance is a more promising area – sales co-pilots and sidekicks. This technology can significantly bolster the capabilities of non-sales professionals in revenue-generating roles. It can deliver at, or just before, the point of prospect engagement (not three months ago), thereby maximizing retention, while allowing people to maintain a sense of autonomy and self-reliance.

Conclusion As businesses continue to blur the lines between sales and non-sales roles, the key to success lies in empowering all these professionals better. Relieve the burden of sales leaders with the right tools to help revenue generators attain situational fluency. In an age where a.i. and technology are more capable than ever, it's possible to plug any sales skill gap, and elevate performance in innovative and efficient ways. This approach not only leverages the unique strengths of non-sales staff but also ensures that the core quality of service delivery remains uncompromised, and sales behaviors become more intentional and consistent.  Ultimately, it's about admitting your opinions and confronting the weaknesses (even if it looks unfashionable to do this) and thereby finding the balance required for more serenity in sales! 

Happy Holidays from us at ShadowSellerai.

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