Expand +



Why Johnny can't sell

by Bill Ziska

August 12, 2010

In 1955, the bestselling book Why Johnny Can not Read was written and proposed getting back to the basics. The trend of the day was reading by the “look-say” method, but when the reader discovered a word they did not know, they were stumped. Author Rudolf Flesch proclaimed a need to get back to the basics, and over 50 years later, this same message can be applied to the similarly ageless challenge of sales.

Hundreds of books, seminars, and specialty training sessions later, the results are still not stellar. However, an endless array of professional services firms and software providers continue to claim to have solved the problem of why Johnny can’t sell and the key to many of these solutions is the adoption of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to support the sales process. As Flesch promoted phonics as a method to enhance reading, it is the lack of methods and measure that have not served our sales people well.

All too often we deploy a solution and “let it ride,” but the real value of a CRM system is the continuous improvement you can gain from the analysis of the results of the sales process. Getting back to the basics of test and measure is what has been missing for years, so sales people do not adopt the solution because they still see no value in it, causing their sales to fall as a result of it.

So how do you test and measure to continuously build best practices into the system.  One recent method I have deployed is to link best practices to activities in SAP.  For Example, during the initial sales stage, you have an activity called "First meeting with the client".  We found the 10 best questions to quickly qualify the prospect and help advance the sales cycle or reject the lead and hunt elsewhere.  By linking the 10 best questions to the activities via surveys, it allows us to test and measure if those are the right questions, and to change them quickly if we find a better question.


An email has been sent to:

More from SAPinsider


Please log in to post a comment.

Billy Menger

9/25/2013 8:46:36 PM

Bill, are the 10 client questions generic in nature or do you customize them per client? I think it's a good idea, just wondering what extent they're changed for different clientss.