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The Three Silver Bullets That Often Miss Their Mark
I was interviewed at the Highspot Spark conference in November in a session titled Excellence at Scale: How Revenue Organizations Translate Strategy to Execution. One of the topics we covered was three silver bullets that often miss their mark.
When executives want to increase revenue, there are three common strategies used to improve the performance of sales teams: training, compensation, and recruitment. While there’s nothing wrong with these tactics, the issue lies in how they are implemented.
Typically, they aren’t used as part of a cohesive strategy to create a great sales experience and sell differently. They are done in staccato fashion, and often delegated to HR or middle management with expectations that they will immediately solve the problem at hand.
Here are a few reasons why your silver bullets aren’t hitting their mark, and how to redirect them.
  • Training: Executives spend a lot of money on training. When their sales people don’t leave a training completely transformed, they wonder what happened or worse, why didn’t it work? But developing talent cannot be an event-oriented practice.
  • It takes time and sustained effort in coaching to see tangible improvements.
  • Compensation: When executives want to improve performance on the sales team, they often incentivize them with a revamped compensation package. But this doesn’t enhance their skill sets.
  • Compensation can be an important driver to get your sales team to put in more effort or focus. But it won’t make them better at their job.
  • Recruitment: Executives might expect to bring together an entire cadre of new sales people at once. What they often find is that it’s rare to bring on a large team of super sales people at the same time.
  • Finding and developing a sales team that you can send out into the marketplace with confidence doesn’t happen overnight. Be willing to bring people on at different skill levels and provide them with the resources they need to become high performers.
With a cohesive strategy and an understanding of the effort and time needed, these approaches, despite not being silver bullets, can have a strong impact. It’s all in how you do it and who leads the effort.
You can watch the entire Highspot Spark Conference interview here.
Stop Presenting Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets and slides filled with numbers are not effective visual aids in a presentation. The audience immediately turns their attention to the slide to digest the information and look for what they find interesting. Most importantly, that means they stop listening to what you are saying. But I’m consistently surprised at how many people present an entire excel file from a projector or during a Zoom/other videoconference. Doing so never fails to derail a presentation.
To keep the focus on you and your message, follow these presentation principles:
  1. Reduce the amount of data or content on your slides. Keep with one or two big ideas per slide that you build from in your comments. People can only absorb so much at one time.
  2. If you have a spreadsheet, consider highlights on 2 or 3 key areas and fading the rest to background. Or better, consider a slide with just the 2 or 3 key pieces of data.
  3. Don’t read from your slides. Your audience can read. You are there to add content, perspective, insight, and expertise.
  4. Maintain control of the conversation by keeping the focus on what you are saying about the data, not the raw data itself.
  5. Take the slides down. Once you present the data, bring the focus back to you by blacking out the screen or stopping your share.
Don’t overwhelm your audience with information. Only present the pieces of data that are critical to the current conversation. The rest can be sent as a follow-up to fill in gaps or answer any lingering questions.
Harriet Lerner, author of the book Why Won’t You Apologize once said that kids tell her that their “I’m sorry” will invariably be followed by sermonizing or “add-ons” that make them want to get away as quickly as possible. If you want to teach your child to apologize, learn to say, “Thank you for the apology.” STOP THERE.
As I read this, I couldn’t help but think how applicable it is for us as adults too. This is not to say that an “I’m sorry” should foreclose any further conversation about the issue if it’s warranted. But recognizing when it’s time to stop the expression of the grievance and accept an apology is an important part of embracing any attempts at repair being made.
Current Read
Writing is a key communication skill. Yet, most leaders are mediocre at succinctly and clearly expressing their ideas. Just read the many email exchanges you receive in a day! Kip Tindell, former CEO of The Container Store, said “One of our foundation principles is that leadership and communication are the same thing. Communication is leadership.” I completely agree with him.
I recently read an article that discussed the importance of written communication for leaders and showcased two common mistakes. The first mistake is when people write in a drastically different way than they naturally speak and the second is failing to provide enough context on a topic or insight. Basically… they overcomplicate things.
Read about how to keep your writing simple in the Strategy+Business article Leaders Need to Be Good Writers Too.

Edinger Consulting