Don't Bother with Sales Training or CRM Until You Face the Facts

by Michael J. Webb

Can You Handle the Truth?

Can You Handle the Truth?

Increasingly sophisticated software is becoming available for coaching salespeople. These systems respond to context, such as the industry the prospect is in, the contact's department, and the stage of the sales process. They may even collect answers to questions for future use in the selling effort. Some even offer elaborate strategy support, with color-coded organizational charts and more.

This should make sales training and CRM ought to go hand-in-hand, right? 

Unfortunately, no matter how fancy the systems are, salespeople don't often use them unless forced to.

If it were a technical, procedural or a user interface issue, it could be fixed. But it isn't.

Instead the issue is the company's assumptions around what enables these software systems (and the people involved) to work. 


Why are improvements difficult to create in sales and marketing

A reader asked: 

  • Why do improvements seem so difficult to create in sales and marketing?
Leadership listening and acting

Leadership listening and acting

This is a good observation and a good question. The VAST majority of attempts to improve in sales and marketing don't improve anything in the end. Scratch the surface of most consulting interventions, and you will see this.

Yes, there may be a new kind of sales training, or a new kind of CRM system, or whatever. Yet, in what way did productivity improve? Does the organization even measure productivity? Do they know how to measure productivity? Can they measure value to the customer? Can they measure anything, besides end results (orders, revenue)? Maybe the managers can rank order the effectiveness of their salespeople. So, what are they doing to make sales easier, to improve productivity of the team as a whole?  (more...)

How is Lean Different From Other Sales Process Methodologies?

The Sr. VP of Sales for a high technology company asked:

“How is Lean (sales process excellence) different from other sales process methodologies (e.g. QBS, Forum), in that many salespeople will quickly discard and revert if they don’t easily perceive results?”

Lean and process excellence enables relentless increases in business productivity. This doesn’t just mean eliminating waste. It also means increasing the value perceived by the customer. Lean thinking begins with what the customer wants, and works backwards from there. Four characteristics distinguish a Lean process approach to sales and marketing from traditional approaches: (more...)

Three Key Changes To Realize Quick Sales Improvements

By Michael Webb

 You can achieve quick sales improvements if – and only if – you know which part of your sales process is broken, and how to fix it. Let’s take a quick look at how poor business managers go about this, and then examine the right way.

What part of your sales process is broken? (And how do you know?)


Financial Impact

What Impact Does Your Sales Process Have on Your Financial Statements?

By Michael J Webb

(pdf of this article)

Most companies want to improve their sales results. Like any other productive work, marketing and sales adds value, and that value can be measured. In a manufacturing plant the product is tangible and the value added is visible in the form of inventory. Managers clearly understand the impact of changes in productivity and inventory levels on their financial statements.

This is not the case in marketing and sales. First, the value added in sales is in someone’s head. This doesn’t mean that the value is just a matter of opinion. But it does mean that different techniques must be used to identify and measure it. Second, most people have only a rudimentary understanding of the relationship between the cost of sales activities and a company’s revenue. Essentially, they see sales as responsible for the “top line” and production as responsible for “the bottom line.”

In fact, marketing and sales has far more impact on the bottom line than most managers realize. But heightening this impact in a positive way calls for control and predictability that are missing in most companies. That’s because most companies fail to employ a process approach to understanding their marketing and sales activities.

This paper defines the basic approach for defining, measuring, and improving marketing and sales processes, and uses a case study to illustrate how the activities and results of the sales process impact a company’s financial statements.


Need to Fix Low Sales Productivity?

Here are Three Root Causes
Every Senior Executive Needs to Know

by Michael J. Webb

Improvement in sales productivity doesn’t grow on trees. Once you understand what is really involved, the causes of statements like these jumps out at you:

  • Company President: “I really like the new sales process you helped us design. Now, I expect my Sales VP to implement it. After all, I pay him enough.”
  • Director of Marketing: “I understand how the Voice of the Customer (VOC) could help us improve product development, customer satisfaction, and retention. However, what does VOC have to do with sales conversion?”
  • CRM company executive: “The sales process in most B2B companies is quite rudimentary. Yet, when we show the Sales VP what our system can enable them to do, their eyes glaze over. Why is it like pulling teeth to get them to see the value of this?”
  • Sales training executive: “B2B companies pay to train salespeople, and yet they resist buying reinforcement training for sales managers. Why can’t they see this is the reason training doesn’t stick?”


Five Things Sales and Marketing Can Learn From Lean Production

Some companies already know a lot about the transition from traditional to lean production operations. As it turns out, there are remarkable parallels between the lean journey in manufacturing and the lean journey in sales and marketing (sales kaizen).

When implemented effectively, both the benefits and the challenges are remarkably similar:


Oh, Now I Get It!

Ahhh! Vacations are great.

I had only half of one in the last two weeks and now that I'm back things still seem brighter and happier than before.

The highlight was spending time with my wife and kids. (My daughter is in high school, my son is a senior mechanical engineering student at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan.)

One of the evenings, sitting around the picnic table with his sister and mother and me on the deck of a cabin we rented in Chimney Rock, NC, my son was talking about his work.


Four Steps to Improving B2B Sales Performance

If you are like me, you've been studying how to improve the performance of B2B sales organizations for a long time.

Here is a treat for you: a new video describing a simple, step-by-step approach that aligns everyone involved by making them an offer they can't refuse. It starts on the home page of


How to Escape the Conversion Paradox

Four Dangerous Assumptions
That Disintegrate Sales and Marketing
– and How to Avoid Them

The head of sales and marketing for a systems integration firm was stumped.

His good marketing created impressive traffic to his company’s trade show booth. He and his team members had great conversations with more than a hundred people there, and arranged many follow-up conversations. On the flight back home he wondered how his team could handle all the opportunities they had found.

Yet a week after the event, it was as if the conference had never happened. These same prospects did not respond to emails or return follow-up phone calls. Those he managed to connect with were not interested.