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Something Else to Chew on Over Thanksgiving

Just for gigs I recently went on Chat GPT and asked a question about how many “things” B2B sellers are supposed to do and be these days. I gave Chat 5 categories, as follows - the prospect company, the prospect industry, the prospect stakeholders, all their individual agendas (both personal and professional) the seller's company and solutions, the sellers thought leadership, POV and views on the prospect company and industry. I told Chat to stop when he got to 25 items within those categories. Chat came up with 25 in about 3 seconds!

Today, sellers are expected to be part strategist, part industry analyst, and part relationship manager, all while keeping pace with the changes in their industry and within their own solution lines. However, this multifaceted demand on sellers has reached a point where it's unfeasible. Recent data indicates a worrying trend in the industry. According to a survey by CSO Insights, only 53% of sales representatives are meeting or exceeding their quotas, a decline from previous years. This statistic starkly highlights the growing disconnect between what is expected of sellers and what they can feasibly achieve.

Acknowledging the Unrealistic Expectations

The first step in addressing the challenges faced by modern B2B sellers is to admit that the current expectations are unrealistic. The breadth and depth of knowledge required, coupled with the need to stay agile and responsive places an immense cognitive load on sellers. This overload not only hampers their effectiveness but also leads to burnout and decreased job satisfaction. And just to let you know – the Sales Enablement team is often referred to as Sales Disablement and often just provides another ball for sellers to juggle. Sellers just cannot remember everything – the result? Sellers forget things, even the basics. Add to this that buyers devote less time to sellers, meaning sellers have to be on top of their game all the time, every time.

The Burden of Carrying Team Quotas

This decline in quota attainment isn't just a problem for individual sellers; it has significant implications for companies, sales teams and leaders. With a smaller proportion of the team meeting their targets, the pressure mounts on top performers. In many organizations, it’s a small percentage of the salesforce – often referred to as the 'top 20%' – who end up carrying number. This imbalance not only creates a stressful environment for the top performers but also demotivates the rest of the team, leading to a cycle of underperformance and high turnover.

The Double-Edged Sword of Internal Responsibilities

In addition to external selling activities, B2B sellers also face a mountain of internal responsibilities. They are required to meticulously consider, plan and document their account strategies, presenting them to their managers to demonstrate a clear, coherent approach to each account – and defend them when inspected! This process, while crucial for ensuring strategic alignment, resources and accountability, adds another layer of complexity to the seller’s role. Balancing client-facing activities with internal strategizing and reporting is a tightrope walk, often leading to burnout and reduced effectiveness in both areas.

Conclusion - Shedding the light –

  • More training never worked and never will

Traditional sales training is yesterday’s news. It fails to address the complexities of modern sales roles and lacks the immediacy required in real-world selling scenarios. Traditional training methods are not available at the point of engagement with prospects, where sellers need support the most. This is where a tool like ShadowSeller shines. By offering on-the-spot guidance and information, it ensures that sellers have access to the knowledge they need exactly when they need it, thus enhancing their ability to engage effectively with prospects.

  • The Role of Technology in Alleviating Cognitive Overload

Sellers are also faced with the paradox of choice when looking for tools to help them. A few tools are fabulous, most are disappointing. Enter ShadowSeller, an ai sidekick which combats the issue of cognitive overload. Even the most experienced sellers are prone to forgetting crucial information or steps in the sales process, a problem that Shadow addresses effectively. By providing real-time, context-specific advice and insights, Shadow helps sellers navigate through the complex web of their responsibilities. Shadow gives them ideas, a road map, strategies, and tactics, all of which can be re-tasked to present to internal management. Shadow acts as a virtual coach, reminding them of what they already know (in some cases) and sharing new ideas in others.

With all the information out there and a growing list of responsibilities – we all need some help. The first stage is to admit it – and that’s ok, it’s part of life. The real problem is with the refusal to admit it or admitting it but doing nothing about it. In that way think of Shadow as as not just dealing with cognitive overload, but turning Cognitive dissonance into cognitive “offload.”

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