Sadly, the trend in developing sales people skills is toward a higher level of prescription. We provide email sequences, we script conversations and talking points. We try to formularize all the activities our sales people do with customers.

But the world is complex, what our customers face is complex, what our people face is complex. Things change constantly, each customer situation is unique–to them, at a moment in time.

We can’t possibly think of everything out people will face, scripting how they handle these situations. Yet, we continue to spoon feed them everything we think they need.

And the results they produce are declining.

Ironically, the greatest value we can produce with customers is sensemaking. That is helping them understand what they face, helping them figure out what problem/opportunities they face, how they might address them, what their needs are,* how to manage the risks, how to move forward.

This is where our customers struggle. This is why the majority of change initiatives, buying efforts end in failure.

Yet, what are we doing to prepare our sales people to be helpful to our customers? Do your sales enablement programs include programs around problem solving, critical thinking, project management, collaborative conversations? Do your sales enablement programs develop skills around the problems customers face and how we help them address them? Do your digital channels provide tools and content to help customers learn how to figure things out?

For some reason, sales management, sales ops, sales enablement don’t seem focused on developing the skills and capabilities to be truly helpful to our customers?

What would happen if we started changing that focus? What would happen if rather than being prescriptive in everything our sales people do, we started focusing on helping them help customers figure things out?

This seems so obvious, but I can’t figure out why we seem to be going in exactly the opposite direction.