The Guide Selling System™

What is a sales "knot?

Apr 23, 2023

A fly rod and reel deliver a “fly” to an area where fish reside in the hope of catching one. (And, usually releasing it.) It is a system. A tangled line prevents all the benefits of the rest of the system. The goal of delivering the “fly” to the appointed location is blocked.


As a beginning fly fisherman, I frequently found my lines knotted up. I spent more time untangling my line than I did fishing. Untangling the flyfishing line was monotonous work and kept me from my goal.


The same thing happens with a sales “knot.” When something in your sales system is “knotted,” you miss your goals and hinder your growth. You won’t be landing new business.


What are some of the typical sales “knots?”

  • Not hiring and retaining the sales talent you need
  • Not winning your fair share.
  • Not delivering reliable revenue.
  • Not providing tools that help.
  • Not creating a consistent pipeline.
  • Not growing your client base.
  • Not running a positive and collaborative culture.


Not hiring and retaining the sales talent you need

Unlike your salespeople, your organization has no other role that deals with rejection and loss. Hiring salespeople requires a different process than your other employees. Different competencies, temperaments, and skills are necessary to succeed in sales. To compound things, most of what you’ve probably heard about sales is inaccurate.


For example, the best salespeople are highly outgoing and driven only by money. Depending on the role, that may be true. But, if you have a complex and consultative sale, that outgoing person may not have the temperament to deal with the complexity. It may require a more reflective, introverted person.


Not winning your fair share.

Is your team delivering more bad news than good? Are you seeing deals slip past the appointed time and then fade away? This “knot” may have a few reasons, and more training might not be the best approach. A few questions you can ask:

  1. Was the sales manager coaching through the deal?
  2. Were they dealing with the decision-makers?
  3. Did they know the decision criteria?
  4. How was the team differentiating your company?

You’ll need to dig into some of the deals to understand why your team is losing. Hopefully, your CRM contains the data, and you can see the communication trail. Otherwise, you must talk with your customers and the sales team. You will probably find that the team didn’t fully understand the problems and obstacles the client was facing. The client probably didn’t either. They presented too early and didn’t differentiate your solution. They probably were not dealing with the decision-makers.


Not delivering reliable revenue.

Pipeline slip, in some cases, is inevitable. You can have the best sales process and CRM; still, clients have issues that cause delays. You can’t guarantee outcomes. However, if you see the same deal constantly sliding back, you know there is an issue. It usually comes back to a sales process and methodology problem. Your team did not anchor the solution to a problem significant to the client. Investigate your sales process, sales coaching, and accountability to fix this.


Not providing tools that help.

Number one is a CRM that helps your sales team win more deals. A quick tip, if your current CRM has “Force” or “365” in the name, they most likely hinder instead of help. CRMs have come a long way since the days of the “No Software” badge. While it ushered in the modern age, SalesForce is no longer the best. The biggest, yes. Not the best by a long shot. More on this topic in future posts.


Not creating a consistent pipeline.

Like the revenue and wins, this also adds the element of prospecting and business development. Does your team have a consistent practice and process for finding new business? Accountability, coaching, and a solid plan helps feed enough into the pipeline. Using your customized sales process and good coaching coupled with accountability make it stay full. A well-coached full pipeline will improve your win rate because your sales team won’t be desperate for wins.


Not growing in your current client base.

One of the most overlooked growth areas resides in your current client base. For years, companies have missed the opportunity to add value to their clients while growing revenue. Approaching their clients with programs like “Increasing our share of wallet” or “Account Management.” These seller-centric approaches often miss the mark due to their selfish approach. The modern buyer expects their client partners to behave like partners. The question should be, “How can we add value to our clients?” Not, how can we gain more share of wallet? What insights can you share? How can you make their businesses run better? More profitably? Or more safely?


Not running a positive and collaborative culture.

Leadership is responsible for everything regarding the sales team - except effort. The CEO and leadership team set the culture. Does the leadership team exhibit and expect accountability? Does the leadership team engage and encourage coaching? Does the leadership team support giving time to clients and not just feeding the machine? Leadership owns the culture and is responsible for creating a high-performance organization.


Tackling these “nots” and untangling them will increase your revenue. It will encourage your team to produce more and boost morale. You can turn around an unproductive team by removing your sales “nots.”