A strategy is great and so are goals, incentives, and all the fabulous whiz-bang sales performance management tools sales teams are using these days. Ultimately, though, decision makers and influencers buy from salespeople they trust and the competency they demonstrate in the interactions to sell their solutions are exhibit A of their competency and professionalism.
We have surveyed decision makers extensively over the last 10 years and the three most annoying habits they see from a high percentage of salespeople are:
- Talking too much and poor listening
- Generic, vanilla sounding competitive advantages that don’t project much unique value
- Giving prospects the feeling they are being sold instead of being helped
Truth is, buyers say that well over half the salespeople they meet with display these bad habits and this is a major reason they are rejected. Sales skills, like many other skills, are developed through practice and repetition. Practice doesn’t really make perfect, but it does make permanent and practicing the wrong things, over and over, is what leads to these annoying bad sales habits that turn buyers off. It’s perfect practice through skillful sales coaching that breaks these bad habits and leads to change and improvement on live calls, under pressure, when it matters most.
Sports teams need practice with coaching, as do elite military and first responder units, Broadway performers, and sales teams. A key element of a sales executive’s sales tactics needs to be improving the frequency and effectiveness of practice, rehearsal, and sales coaching throughout the sales organization.
This seems obvious, but interestingly it rarely happens. We interviewed over 150 sales executives from large organizations and 92% of them told us that inconsistent and ineffective sales coaching and practice was one of their biggest problems and sales limiters.
Steps to Take Immediately to Break Bad Selling Habits
- Measure sales managers on how much practice coaching they do. You can’t manage it if you can’t measure it
- Begin by focusing on teaching the sales team to communicate competitive advantages and differentiating factors more concisely and persuasively
- Collect and share a wide variety of good open-ended questions and insist salespeople use them as part of their pre-call preparation. They should identify 3-5 of these dialogue-generating questions for every interaction
- Make the commitment to build a fantastic practice system sales managers can use … we’ll give more details on that in future posts