No experienced football coach would ever consider sending his team onto the field without being right there on the sidelines--observing their every move.
The same applies to your sales team. Too many sales managers expect top producers to meet their sales goals without their observation, feedback and coaching. Instead, I encounter many sales managers expecting great results without their personal involvement.
If you haven't spent time with your salespeople in the field or on the phone recently, do so. Here are eight questions to ask yourself when observing your salespeople in the field:
How well does your salesperson:
1. Establish credibility with the buyer?
What words does your sales rep use to start a sales call? How confident are they interacting with the buyer? What was their use of collateral, case studies, anecdotes and testimonials to develop trust? You want your sales reps to be confident from the moment they enter the office or when they get the buyer on the phone. Be sure you practice with them how to enter into a professional conversation and how to transition in to "sales talk".
2. Modify their personality style to accommodate the buyer's style?
Selling to everyone the same way minimizes results. Instead, be sure your sales reps know their personality style and how to modify to accommodate the style of their prospect/customer. Not modifying causes tension in the relationship and can alienate the buyer. A good sales assessment can help your sales rep understand their style and how to modify to improve sales relations.
3. Ask business-focused questions?
If your sales rep is caught up in product/price focused conversations they've just commoditized themselves. Instead, ensure they ask questions that relate the business issues at hand and the impact those issues have on the cost, productivity, sales and margins of the business. That way they separate themselves from some of your competitors and elevate their status in the mind of the buyer. Here are six questions that most decision-makers need to have answered by sales reps.
4. Listen to the buyer's responses?
You don't talk your way through a sale--you listen. Easy to understand, but hard to do. Here's a simple listening technique your salespeople can employ to help them listen better during a sales call.
5. Qualify the buyer to determine if/how they should proceed?
How often do your sales reps send out proposals, quotes or contracts that don't come back signed? Why is that? They might be attempting to sell to unqualified buyers. You must first define the characteristics of a qualified buyer, then teach your reps the qualifying questions to ask to ensure they're not wasting time with someone who will not or cannot buy. This will improve closing ratios and decrease "junk" in their pipelines.
6. Provide a targeted solution?
Do your sales reps customize their presentation or is it just a standard pitch of product features? Buyers want a custom solution, even if that means a custom presentation of benefits that relates to their objectives. Remember, your sales reps should be selling based on the buyer's perception of value. So presenting that value requires some modification to the presentation to ensure an on-target solution in the mind of the buyer.
7. Handle objections?
Never let your sales rep leave the office ill-equipped for handling objections. That's what sales meetings are for. With the sales teams input, write out all of the objections they receive. Next, starting with the most common objection, develop the words for your sales reps to respond appropriately and address the concern. Finally, role play with your sales reps to ensure they can handle that objection well or prevent it from coming up at all. Do the same for the remaining objections on your list.
8. Ask for the sale?
Do your sales reps buy back your product or service after the buyer is sold? Do your reps fail to even ask for the sale? Do they have the right words and know the right time to ask for the sale? Frankly, if they've done the previous steps correctly and they're selling to a qualified buyer, asking for the sale is the next natural step in the process.
Take this list of questions with you on your next sales call with one of your sales reps. Add it to your coaching resources. Doing so will increase your knowledge of your salespeople that lays the groundwork for development... and, ultimately, the sales results you're looking to achieve.