By Jason Forrest
Most likely, what your boss, peers, and team members expect you to do is exactly the opposite of what you need to do to be truly successful in your role. And, even more harmful, if it’s what others expect from you, it’s likely what you expect from yourself.
When you signed up for this job, you were told that you were in charge of the sales results for your company. The variables that you use to achieve those results are known as the 9 P’s of marketing. Download the graphic at the end of this article, which shows product, price, promotion, position, and packaging on the left and people, process, and presentation on the right. Count which P’s are covered in your job description and/or the socially accepted expectations of your role.
If you’re like most of my clients (at least when I first sign with them), most of your answers fall on the left side. The left side includes things like what your marketing material look like, whether the colors on your billboards are just right, and whether your store has the right lighting. And that’s exactly the paradox of this whole thing—because the aspects of your job that are truly going to increase your sales results are those on the right.
This book came about because I kept seeing job descriptions and titles that lumped marketing (which encompasses the P’s on the left) and sales (which focuses more on the P’s on the right) together. That dangerous lumping practice is also what I saw in my experience as a national sales trainer for a large public homebuilder. A sales professional, Christine, asked if I could come out to her office and shadow her the next time I was in town. I did and we spent three hours together. I coached her—passing along the sales processes and techniques that had worked for me when I was in her shoes. Two weeks later, she called again. She said, “When can you come out again? I just made three grand in commission creating a sale off of what you taught me. I want to learn more.”
When I asked about her sales manager, she said, “Oh, she doesn’t do those things. She helps with the paperwork side…makes sure I have enough brochures at the office…negotiates deals.” Basically, though she didn’t know it, Christine told me that her manager did the P’s on the left. At that moment, I realized that I was on to something—what I did with Christine was the future job description of a sales manager. And a sales manager actually would be a sales coach.
But I knew it would be difficult to convince builders of my controversial idea—builders were benefitting from a great housing market and stayed competitive as long as those P’s on the left were in line. Sales managers were six-figure admins and that was just fine with everyone. They didn’t want to change. And what’s more, it was a good market, so they didn’t have to change.
But when the market tanked, that wasn’t going to cut it anymore. People needed the P’s on the left to be in line, but what they really needed was to focus on the P’s on the right—the ones that could set them apart from everyone else and earn them a greater percentage of the shrinking market share. And that’s what this book is about.
Because those P’s on the right (the P’s of sales) are what the modern sales coach needs to be focused on in order to succeed—in good markets and bad.
If you accept what I’m saying and pursue this new way of thinking—be prepared to be lonely. Because it ain’t always popular. Your bosses are conditioned to believe that success lies in the P’s on the left. So that’s what they hold you accountable to. Other department heads are blinded to the P’s on the right. So they’ll have no problem complaining to you about the P’s on the left and expecting you to be in meetings that cover details you don’t need to be involved in.
Even your team members will expect your advice and leadership on the things on the left. They might even rebel when you bring up the P’s on the right. Everyone around you will create so much noise about things that don’t actually make you meet your sales goals. They’ll make it socially unacceptable to be the coach you want to be.
Don’t get me wrong—the product, promotional strategies, packaging, production, position, and place absolutely need to be in line. But this book is about the Ps on the right because the P’s on the left do little more than keep you in the game. But to win the game, you have to dominate the P’s on the right.
Your people, process, and presentation are what will help you achieve success; increase market share; and outdo your competition. As I write this, 100 percent of my clients are beating their market. It’s not because they’re producing an extraordinary iProduct that sets them apart from everyone else. It’s because they see sales differently and they coach their sales professionals to be the best version of themselves.
It’s about learning how to grow your sales professionals and improve their sales processes and presentations. And trust me—they’ll all come around. When your managers see market share increase, when other department heads aren’t feeling the pressure that comes with low sales, and when sales professionals start making more money, they’ll see the light. They’ll believe.
Excerpt from “Leadership Sales Coaching: Transforming from Manager to Coach” by Jason Forrest. For more information, visit http://www.forrestperformancegroup.com/store/
One of Training magazine’s Top 10 Young Trainers of 2012, Jason Forrest is an expert at creating high-performance sales cultures through complete training programs. He incorporates experiential learning to increase sales, implement cultural accountability, and transform companies into sales organizations. Forrest is a sales trainer, management coach, regularly featured speaker at national conferences and professional association events, member of the National Speakers Association’s Million Dollar Speakers Group, and a published author. For more information, visit www.forrestpg.com.