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The Mind Controls The Body

The other day I caught the almost throwaway line uttered by a sports commentator that: “The Mind Controls The Body”.

And, in sport it seems that this is the major focus of the sports people themselves as well as their coaches and commentators, in fact anyone who passes a judgement will as sure as not refer to the “Mind Game” as much as the Skill of the Player.

What about in business? I would say; lip-service only. What about in Sales? Well, especially in sales there is a belief that those who can do. Read that how you will.

It is an oft quoted mantra. Either a person can sell, in which case, why bother to invest in development, coaching, support, or they cannot, in which case, however much is invested will not make a person capable of selling, so why bother?

To paraphrase what has frequently been said to me by MD’s and CEO’s: “I pay top dollar for my salespeople, I do not intend to waste money taking them off the road to train them!” Sell or leave, I guess?

Another frequent refrain I have heard is that footballers are paid massive sums and yet spend most of their time…training. Go figure.

Indeed, one of my Private Equity Investor clients maintained that if you put a “true salesperson” into a new position, he or she would be 60% of their quota in six months and have surpassed it in nine months.

That all sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it? And yet, the harsh reality is that without sales companies die and people lose jobs and investors lose money. The harsh reality, too, is that huge sums of money have been spent on, development, coaching, implementing processes, enablement, operations and yet with what return, with what result, with what outcome? Given the investments that have been made you would imagine that all those companies who have shelled out their hard-earned cash would be booming!

I know of one organisation that spent the best part of £250k on a sales process programme, embedding it their CRM and training their sales team only for it to be discarded in under 12 months. Why? A change of Sales Leader who did not really believe in processes, he (it was a he) hired “Sales Athletes” instead. Did it work out? Well, yes and no. Yes, in the sense that the sales athletes he did employ did meet and mostly exceed their targets. No, in the sense that he could not find sufficient numbers of sales athletes to fill all the positions and no, too, in that forecasting accuracy and predictability suffered, non-sales-athletes-sales-staff turnover increased and the severance and recruitment budgets were exceeded to say nothing of the effect on staff morale and, consequently, their motivation. It did, though have the, perhaps unintended, consequence of reinforcing the oft quoted mantra: “Those who can do” (the sales athletes) and the others, clearly, needed to leave!

Lest I run the risk of over stating the case, the point is nevertheless well-made that many well-intentioned investments do not produce the sales results that were projected at the point of justifying the investment in the first place. Why should this be so?

I would offer the following.

Most people go to work each day with the full intention of doing the best they can for their employer and yet performance frequently does not match targets and expectations. Why so?

Assuming that the organisations have good products and services and work to ethical standards then the likelihood is that such training as sales people and their managers receive concentrate on the company and its products and services and with some time spent on how to organise their working lives to be both effective and efficient.

Any programme that has been acquired will have been decided at an SLT level, maybe by HR, possibly by Sales Enablement, certainly by the Senior Sales Leader and, depending upon the size of the operation, perhaps by all but, in my experience, never by the sales people themselves.

Think about this, no matter what process, what training, what commitment from the SLT, when it comes down to it, the whole outcome relies upon the conversations that the sales person has, 1-on-1 with the buyer or committee of buyers.

How much of the success of those interactions is a function of the mind?

And how would it be for managers to focus upon training and coaching the minds of their salespeople as well as their domain and product knowledge?

And, how would it be if the prime skill of managers was the ability to train and coach the minds of their salespeople?

And, how would it be also if salespeople had a big say in the choice of programme?


If you are curious about this, register your interest by contacting me, John Busby, to discuss at:; + 44 7968 066 165

Copyright©2015 John Busby

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