Effective Sales Management to Avoid the Ruins of Chichen Itza

The Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza (Mexico) are marvelous to behold. They include a beautiful pyramid (that can predict the solstices), a planetarium, and a huge playing field (that looks like a Quidditch field in the Rowling Harry Potter series).

The Mayans had a very advanced civilization, which included: one of the 3 independently invented written alphabets, highly developed knowledge of astronomy, architecture, math, and a sophisticated medicine.

Other advanced Central American civilizations – including the Aztecs and the Incas – declined after the Spanish colonists and soldiers came to the Americas.

Not so with the Mayan center at Chichen Itza. It declined hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived.

History identifies these outstanding features of the declining civilization:

  1. the advanced knowledge was held by a small number of priests, mathematicians, etc. To the common Mayan, it was esoteric knowledge – magic.
  2. when things went bad (e.g. droughts, bad crops), the Mayans resorted to human sacrifice. The leaders threw the common people “under the bus”. Instead of a policy of “woman and children get saved first”, the leaders protected their own declining position.
  3. when the last rulers imposed unjust burdens – including taxes and continuing the practice of human sacrifice – the people started abandoning the cities; eventually the civilized center fell into disuse.

Businesses that repeat past behavior, without thoughtful analysis, are susceptible to inducing the ruins of Chichen Itza. This is particularly so, with respect to new business development, where ownership is grappling with an uncertain future demand and may need radical new ideas.

With rapidly changing markets, plagued by declining life cycles, ineffective sales management produces the ruins of Chichen Itza, where:

  1. sales are in decline (there is no sense of urgency, by either prospects or salespeople)
  2. if there is a selling system, it is esoteric knowledge:
    1. salespeople don’t understand why they should follow the system
    2. often top management and/or ownership have contempt for sales (no wonder sales are off)
  3. sales leadership – overseeing the decline – often sets objectives that protect and reward themselves, but don’t align with corporate success
  4. innovative outsourced solutions are dismissed out of hand

To prevent the “ sales ruins of Chichen Itza”, business owners must follow Michael Gerber’s injunction and work “on the business”, not “in the business”. Ownership needs to seek best practices and constant improvement on an on-going basis. One way to do this is: by participating in peer advisory group meetings, with an organization like Vistage.

Another is through inviting a sales consultant to help you install sales best practices, especially needed in new business development. An effective sales and sales management system:

  1. can boost sales 10-20% or more, with a limited financial investment
  2. creates or manages prospect urgency and commitment
  3. ends sales force blackmail
  4. provides concrete measurable assessments of each opportunity – answering the question: is this  prospect viable, or wasting our time
  5. teaches and reinforces fearless behavior by the sales team
  6. can become a scalable core asset, increasing firm valuation 20% or more
  7. helps sales force recruiting

Looking to the future, working on selling best practices, helps us avoid the sales ruins of Chichen Itza.