You’ve realized that 50% of your sales team doesn’t hit their sales target on a monthly basis. Even your top seller’s performance is erratic at best.
You come to the conclusion that the only way you are going to get your team to hit quota regularly is if you invest in a sale training methodology that will create a repeatable process for them to get consistent results. A good sales skills course will include a process for prospecting for new business, effectively qualifying an opportunity, presenting solutions in a compelling manner and handling objections and negotiations. You do your research, find the best methodology and then you invest the time and the money. Now what?
Look for early adopters
This will be a small percentage of your team but utilization is easier to drive when your people see their peers using the methodology and being consistently successful. Best practices should become part of the weekly team meeting. I was recently at a sales managers summit and a manager was recognized for successfully implementing their new methodology. Since then his approach has become the standard expected by his VP for the rest of the team. The thought becomes “If he can do it so can I.”
Involve tech sales support
Sales teams often use their technical people to “run the meeting” whenever it is focused primarily on product features and technology. Technical sales teams should require the sellers to use the process to gather more information to better qualify the opportunity prior to engaging them as a resource. This will drive utilization and more productive resource allocation. I have found that the “peer” relationship between the seller and their technical sales specialist is an effective conduit managers can use to convey ideas that might be met with resistance through the normal “manager-seller” engagement.
Use the tools provided
Tools are included for a reason. The forms and the guides are designed to aid in the implementation of the methodology but also to give structure to aid in the reinforcement of its use. Also, don’t allow “changes” to the tools. Team members will offer suggestions to “make it more applicable to their job” or “easier to use”. Do not view them as early adopters (see tip 1) who just need a little customization. In most cases, the changes they want will result in them being “more comfortable with the tool” because it will match what they presently do, not the behavior you are trying to get them to adopt. Changes will only dilute the tool’s effectiveness.
Make it relatable
Sellers often don’t realize that the criteria that a customer uses to buy what they are selling are the same criteria the seller uses to buy themselves a cup of coffee on their way to work or perhaps a new surround sound system for their home. Show them that the conversation they are having with a particular prospect is no different than a conversation they have with someone they meet through friends. I have found that asking sales people to explain why they bought an article of clothing they have on makes them realize that buying criteria was established whether they realized it or not.
If you are going to implement utilization of the methodology then do so across the board. Your sales team is already challenged with thoughts of “when do I use it?” If they are expected to use it all the time it becomes part of the culture. Avoid requiring them to use it on some opportunities and not on others. I’ve spoken to managers who admit that the weekly review with their “top sellers” is “I don’t care if you’re using it because I don’t need to worry about you.” Conversely the same review with a “low performer” is a beat down as to why they are not using the methodology. That will not be sending the right message to your team.
Get buy in
There is always resistance to something new simply because it is different that what they are used to. Try to get them to realize that the methodology isn’t “something else” they have to do but more of a structure and process that they can integrate into what they are doing already to help them be more efficient. Be prepared to “sell them” on the new methodology by demonstrating clearly and concisely how the new skills will help them achieve THEIR goals.
Become proficient yourself
The old adage is “Lead by example.” If your sellers see you becoming more proficient with the utilization of the methodology then it becomes part of the culture faster. In addition, the better you get the easier it will be for you to coach your sellers to becoming more proficient because you will be in a better position to evaluate their command of the process.
It’s time to get the most out of your investment in a sales training program.
While all of the aforementioned tips will get you on the right track, don’t try to boil the ocean. Pick one for yourself and one for your team and start with that. A steady, consistent approach will be the key to get the buy in that you will need to be consistently successful.