John Shope, Retirement & Institutional Services National Sales Manager in the Banking and Financial Services Industry
Recently, we had an opportunity to connect with John Shope, Retirement & Institutional Services National Sales Manager in the Banking and Financial Services Industry. and listen to his thinking on what makes top performing salespeople different, what gives them their competitive edge and what sales leaders can do to train and support them. He shared a number of unique ideas focused around:
- Passion and Energy Win Over Experience
- Sales Managers Must Commit to their Teams Success
- Motivate Your Salespeople to Practice their Craft
- Invest in the Training and Education of Your Salespeople
Early in the interview, John said something that really framed the rest of our conversation,
“If you don’t have passion, if you aren’t excited to come to work and to help people retire well…you can’t work for me. Your ability to make a difference and be consultative is what will help make you successful.”
Sales, much like football, is a game of inches not yards. That is to say the margin between those who win and those who don’t can be incredibly slim. What makes up that margin is often that little edge that comes from a sincere desire to do what’s right for the customer. When decision makers feel that passion it creates trust and trust generates sales.
Passion and Energy Win Over Experience
John shared some more thoughts on passion and the role it plays in a salesperson’s success:
“I will hire passion and energy and excitement over experience every time. I can train someone on the business and how our products and service work, but, what I can’t train on is the motivation to get out of bed Monday morning. I always look for that innate passion and excitement.”
When salespeople infuse this type of passion into their sales interactions it can change the way they communicate with their potential clients in a fundamental way. John explains,
“We like our sales professionals to be consultative and we give them the value points to speak to. However, if you’re going to stand out and differentiate yourself from the competition, you have to put your value proposition and differentiating factors in your own words. Putting your passion into each interaction with your prospects helps differentiate yourself and your product or solution.”
Sales Managers Must Commit to their Teams Success
When we asked John his philosophy on Sales Management, he told us for him it comes down to two core concepts. First, managers have to demonstrate commitment to the success of their team. John explains,
“The Sales Manager should be fully committed to making each member of his/her team successful. Their job is to remove obstacles and continually provide education, training and coaching so each team member can be as successful as possible. If a sales team believes the manager is totally committed to their success, that allows them to be 100% focused on their prospects and closing business.”
The second Sales Management insight John shared with us is that Sales Managers have to be coaching in real time in the trenches with their people. John really drove this point home when he said,
“Managers have to be in the field working with their sales team. If the manager isn’t in the trenches with their people helping them prepare and actually participating in sales meetings, they just don’t know how to coach their team to be more successful. It’s so important to be there to help and support, not just evaluate. By being there, they can provide real time feedback which is the most impactful type of coaching”
This kind of in the moment feedback can help prevent mistakes from happening. It’s great to analyze what happened, but that doesn’t change the outcome. When a sales manager is there with their team members on calls, they can influence sales, not just analyze why they didn’t happen and this makes a big difference.
Motivate Your Salespeople to Practice their Craft
Next our conversation turned towards creating the ideal environment and culture to attract and support top performers. Sales organizations are often faced with the question “How do we create a culture that is engaging while emphasizing hard-work and discipline?” When we asked John how he tackles this challenge, he replied,
“We’re big on motivating sales professionals to practice their craft, much the same way sports teams do. In sports you constantly practice your skills and teamwork and the repetition builds muscle memory. Even the most outstanding professional players in their sport understand the value of practice and preparation. We do a lot of presentation practice and Q&A role-play to keep our team fresh and on point. Listening to peer feedback (in addition to sales management) also is incredibly valuable and helps perfect your pitch. It’s always helpful to hear how your peers deliver the value proposition and answer questions.”
Our research has shown that of the five core coaching styles the type of coaching that elite sports coaches deliver is far more likely to have the biggest positive impact on the skill level of a salesperson. The good news is, we’ve found most sales managers can learn this far more effective coaching approach, especially if someone is coaching the coaches how to do it.
Another challenge facing front-line sales managers is how to effectively walk the line between the stick and carrot. When we asked John his thoughts on balancing accountability, with incentives he commented,
“We’re big on consistent reward and recognition. You want to make sure the team understands the value they bring to the company. When there’s a win, we celebrate. It helps to offset the accountability pressure when you also are excited about the wins and celebration.”
Invest in the Training and Education of Your Salespeople
Top performing salespeople have an innate sense that stagnation and complacency are the enemies of success. This drive to always be learning, excelling, and growing fuels the fire that drives top performers but also presents some unique hurdles for their leadership and organization. John shared two interesting insights with us about how he engages his salespeople:
- “We invest in the training and education of our salespeople both internally and externally. We provide a consistent training curriculum to help people develop and stay current. We also have defined career paths to help prepare our people for the next stage and that keeps them moving and interested in their future. Keeping people fresh and invigorated is really important.”
- “It’s important to give all team members context as to how their contributions fit into and are important to the success of the team and vision for the future. Providing the company’s vision and strategy allows salespeople to understand where the team is headed and feel accountable for their portion. It can also provide insight into career pathing or additional ways they can contribute their talents in the future.”
Thanks to John for the interview and solid tips on how to generate stronger sales teams!
For videos on how to increase sales utilizing the SalesGym’s “Compete Selling” approaches, check out our SalesGym YouTube Channel!
SalesGym is a research, consulting, and training company that works with and learns from sales teams all over the world and has refined a coaching and training process that trains sales teams the way elite athletes are trained. More insights and articles from us can be found on our RESOURCES PAGE.
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