2023 Planning Addressing Bias

After spending 40+ years in a multitude of sales and sales management roles your often asked to deliver “the secret” to a successful sales process. As with most everything worth knowing nothing ever comes down to a simple answer. Why do sales teams succeed or fail? The answers range across the board from the salesperson, the sales process to the organization and its expectations. Ultimately no matter what the answer is proven to be it always starts with a simple question.

Why?

Why should your customer or prospect invest the time to meet with your salesperson? What is in it for “them”? If you can’t answer that question in a brief 30-45 second soundbite, chances are you’re not ready to be investing in the time and effort to ask a customer for their most valuable asset. Their time.

So, then Why? Ok before having that discussion it is imperative to call out the elephant in the room.

Bias

Bias by its nature tends to carry a negative connotation, and as a result the presence of bias is dismissed offhand as a sign of weakness. In fact, we all carry biases across a multitude of topics. We may call them preferences (ford vs Chevy) (Italian vs Chinese food) etc. etc. We don’t view our personal preferences as negatives. In fact, they are the output of years of experience and trial and error. They are accepted and embraced in our personal lives and rarely reviewed. Bias is the natural result of experience and the way we are wired. So, by their very nature they are not negatives or positives they are simply “there”.

From a business planning and development perspective the need to recognize bias when assessing your people is critical. Failure to plan without a full qualitative analysis of your people is often the root cause of failure to achieve sustainable results.

Does your planning process does not incorporate a 360-degree view of your sales team from the customer perspective but more critically from your internal stakeholders? I have seen many large corporations with volumes of processes build goals and objectives without even considering the feedback from internal stakeholders. 

Questions you should consider asking yourself as you plan for 2022 and align your goals and assess your salespeople.

  1. Who is leading your assessment and planning process? Have you consider taking this outside the team to gain the benefits of clear set of eyes.
  2. Is your assessment one based solely or largely on recent success, likely tied to sales quota achievement?
  3. Have you encouraged feedback from your reps and directly or indirectly from your customers as to how they view your people
  4. Have you conducted 360 internal anonymous stakeholder surveys to gather feedback from your own business. Many hard charging goals achieving salespeople achieve their goals at the expense of internal stakeholders. It is great to have a team of ace fire fighters if they are not “winning” by exhausting their internal support teams
  5. Do you have a clear understanding of your goals and what you hope to achieve from this?
  6. Most often the most neglected is, do you have a facilitator who can focus on keeping the process on track once you leave your [planning session. Most great processes die from assignment of tasks without a process to ensure progress is being made. The result will be another year where goal achievement results more from external factors than a clear well executed and managed process.
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