The Founders of the SalesGym have worked with 100’s of sales teams and thousands of salespeople for nearly 30 years. One of the first questions we get asked by sales executives is, “what is the best, fastest way to develop salespeople so they generate better results quickly?”
Through years of research, testing and trial and error, we’ve discovered, often the hard way a few irrefutable truths that lead to the answer, which is remarkably simple. We’ve spent thousands of days training and coaching sales teams and observing them on sales calls. Those truths include:
- Although intensive live 1-3 day training events are great for launching a sales process or approach, it takes a lot more than that to develop the skills and confidence salespeople need to use top performer approaches on sales calls
- Salespeople inevitably revert back to the sales approach they are most comfortable with. They are reluctant to try new sales techniques that feel awkward for fear of what might happen live, with a customer or prospect
- The most common mistake on sales calls is when salespeople simply talk too much, don’t ask enough good relevant questions and fail to listen
- Sales results are driven by skills and habits. To improve average salespeople, their skills and habits must change.
- Most sales managers don’t have the time or training to do the kind of skills development practice coaching most salespeople need in order to change and improve their selling skills
- Selling is a verbal skill that develops much the way our physical muscles do. It requires good demonstrations, practice and repetition to get better at the verbal elements of selling.
- Top performers do a lot of things differently than average salespeople. They are better at sales messaging, the consultative sales process and they know how and when to be more assertive. They also manage their time better and have more drive to succeed.
What we’ve found is that weekly practice and repetition with a skilled practice coach is the absolute best way to quickly improve the skills and habits that average salespeople get into. Practice and repetition builds confidence and fluency with new skills which will cause the salesperson to USE these new skills on live calls, under pressure.
So, what are the most important areas to focus on when developing new skills and confidence? We have found that the best place to start, with 95% of the salespeople we meet and work with is with
Sales messaging, to us includes:
- Being able to communicate a powerful, concise and tailored value proposition, competitive advantages and differentiating factors
- Knowing absolutely cold the 5-10 most important questions you must ask to get a full understanding of how to help the prospect or customer with your products and services
- How to position the tougher, more assertive questions in a way that reduces the anxiety and makes it easier for the prospect or customer to engage and answer it honestly
- Having fantastic answers to the 5-10 questions most prospects have on their mind before they’ll decide to do business with you
- Knowing how to communicate a simple but effective agenda that gets any sales call off to a good start
- How to give an effective introduction of yourself and your team members to prospects or customers you are meeting for the first time
- How to explain your product and service in a way that really stands out and differentiates you from your competitors
- How to craft an communicate great customer success stories you can use to recommend bigger and bolder next steps
This takes practice as most salespeople are not effective in all of these areas. Just as it takes time to get into shape when we start going to the gym, it takes time with regular practice to develop these verbal muscles. After a reasonable level of sales fluency is achieved in these areas, then the next area to focus on is:
The absolute best salespeople, the top performers often called the “challengers” are able to blend both consultative selling and more assertive approaches, when needed, together to generate better outcomes. It is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to practice the sales process in a meaningful way with a salesperson that does not have command of basic sales messaging and this is a big mistake more and more training programs make. Often, training starts with the assumption that the sales team has verbal mastery of sales messaging and this is usually not the case. After rigorous and repeated practice on sales messaging, then training on the sales process will yield better results.
When we talk about the sales process, we’re talking about everything that happens from pre-call planning all the way through follow-up including planning, opening the call, asking good questions, presenting a solution, influencing all the various stakeholders involved in the decision, overcoming resistance and objections and gaining commitment.
Finally, once the sales team has strong sales messaging and process skills, then it’s time to move on to area #3 which is.
Territory and Pipeline Management
More and more, this is where sales training today is STARTING, which is a big mistake. This type of analytic, planning-based training is not going to move the needle with salespeople that have not achieved a high level of fluency with their messaging and process.
So, in closing, spend time up front on sales messaging and your team’s results will increase much faster.
- Pre-call planning
- Build rapport & trust
- Discover needs/questions
- Tailor your solution to those needs
- Overcome objections & close
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