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  • Writer's pictureBrian Shea

Too many sales leaders have forgotten this childhood lesson

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

We all remember the Tupperware "Shape-O" toy. It was a round puzzle that taught young children how to fit the right blocks into the right holes. This simple toy was designed to educate and entertain while teaching manual dexterity and shape distinction. Parents would celebrate when a child learned that square pegs don't fit into the round hole.

During a recent discussion with a senior sales leader about their team's pipeline development challenges, we asked the leader to take a step back and map out how their buyers are buying today. The sales leader was then asked to compare and contrast to how buyers were buying before the pandemic. (One observation, the sales leader struggled with accurately mapping the current buying journeys)

As identified in the 2021 Korn Ferry Buyer Preference study nearly 80 percent of today's buying tasks are completed before engaging with a seller. Gartner research shows only 31% of surveyed buyers rely solely on sellers for learning while making a purchase. The other 69% interact with suppliers via either a mix of rep-assisted and digital channels, or solely through self-navigated digital channels.

The sales leader quickly learned that the firm's sales team was selling using a pre-pandemic playbook, meanwhile their buyers were using a modernized playbook. The key away: The sales team had lost manual dexterity and shape distinction skills.

Solving pipeline development challenges today is a blend of researched backed people, process and technology ingredients. Gone are the days of boiler room/Glengarry Glen Ross where smiling and dialing were the 'best practices'. The shift to digital first prospecting requires a complete redesign of people, process and technology, anchored to how buyers are buying today, where buyers acquire knowledge, identifying key influencers within the organization, and a heavy emphasis on getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. Below is the framework for how we enable Scalable Digital Prospecting.

As a founder-led CEO, your sales leaders can no longer drive improvements in performance by smashing a round peg through a square hole. You must ensure their approach to people, process and technology are aligned to your firm's go to market strategy. The playbook requires new workflows as the formalized frame supporting the revenue engine.

This work is hard. Our team at are experts. We can help.

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