Sales Tip of the Week

Why Sales Managers and Business Owners find it so difficult to “Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”

Many business owners and sales managers we speak to seem to have a common problem or theme that comes across when we first meet with them: Their frustration with having to go over the same sales issues and obstacles that impede their company’s growth with the same sales people continually. By the time we speak to them they have jumped to the conclusion that you cannot teach an old dog a new trick. Many business owners spend the majority of their time pulling their hair out over why certain people just won’t deal with certain objections, hold margins, fail to call at the top, or over those who simply don’t call at all! Regardless of management’s approach to rectifying the problem, whether through motivation, coaching, new techniques or financial bonus structures, the results, or lack thereof can often be attributed to a number of factors.

The primary reason certain sales people, regardless of the help or training they receive, do not apply their sales knowledge translating their efforts into sales productivity is because of subconscious filters.


Subconscious Filters

We all have subconscious filters. Subconscious filters essentially allow us to assimilate what we like, what we agree with, what we are comfortable with and what goes along with the routine we have developed during the course of many years of doing what we do. Although sales people, may on the surface agree and convey their understanding of why certain strategies or techniques are necessary, they simply do not use them until and unless these subconscious filters are removed. While training individuals, regardless of their background or industry we notice a common occurrence-we see heads nodding in agreement or in disagreement at various points during training. We know that this overt expression of agreement and disagreement is the manifestation of subconscious filters at work, allowing the individual to either “take in” or kick out” strategies, methods or techniques.


Mirroring the Purchasing Process:

Another reason why many sales people go through entire careers with certain sales related problems-such as long selling cycles, failing to confront objections (leading to big pipelines and small bottom lines), call reluctance or failure to hold their price is because they mirror their own purchasing process. In other words, how you buy, is how you sell!


Case Study

The President of a local software company called us in recently because his group’s extended selling cycle was adversely impacting their bottom line. Many business owners, sales directors and unfortunately many in the sales training or sales performance business would simply treat the symptom. The symptom here is a long selling cycle. Most treat the symptom with techniques or strategies that usually will not be utilized because of the subconscious filters and personal buying habits previously mentioned. While investigating the problem we uncovered the buying process used by their sales manager contributed to the company’s problem. One example that reinforced this belief was how the sales manager had purchased a new car. In questioning the sales manager about how he went about the process of buying that vehicle he proudly told us he took seven months and shopped 29 dealerships from Dallas down to Fort Worth! He meticulously gathered information and boy, did he ever “think about it” prior to making his decision. He knew more about that vehicle than the plant that built it!

Monday morning while he was back on the job in an actual selling situation he was faced with an information gatherer who stated “I am simply looking”. The question here is how effective will this sales person be when subconsciously they keep telling themselves “I would probably do the same thing”! Hence, the selling cycle within this organization was out of line for two reasons that would override any coaching, motivation or training. First and foremost the sales manager could not and would not do what was necessary because of the subconscious filters which impeded his ability to adopt strategies or techniques that went against the routine he had developed and had been using for years. And this unproductive routine was a direct result of his and personal buying habits.


Hope this Helps.


Karl Graf, President Acuity Systems, Inc.

Realize the Potential

2665 Villa Creek, Suite 104, Dallas, Texas 75234

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