I have written plenty of blogs about what customers expect of Sales People, so I thought it was about time we talked about what Sales People expect in order to perform at their best. Think of it like this; if you buy an expensive sports car you expect it to perform. Yes? But you need to put fuel in it and maintain it don’t you? The same applies to Sales People.
I’ve drawn up my list of 10 things you should do to make sure your Sales Team performs as well as possible.
Less bureaucracy – more selling time
Make subject matter experts available
Coaching not control
Be responsive internally
A useful CRM
Access to best practices
Worthwhile sales meetings
One of the best Sales People I know was fairly young when he landed a great job with a US company. He insisted on travelling to the US where he spent 10 days stapled to the best Sales Person. When he returned to Europe he found another successful Sales Person to mentor him on his first sales opportunities. When he started working on his own he was able to call upon the experience of a lifetime of successful selling.
All too often new recruits only receive product training and are then expected to get on with it. I’m afraid plenty of confident Sales People think that’s all they need. But if you give new people a chance to see how the best Sales People in your organisation operate and mentor them you can accelerate time to success significantly.
More selling time
If Sales People have to repeatedly give different management layers the same information in various formats they are wasting precious selling time. I hear some Sales People complaining they spend a third of their time on admin.
If you cut the admin down to the real essentials Sales People will spend more time selling and you will see higher energy levels and better results.
Subject matter experts
It stands to reason that the best solution requires the best brains in the business but all too often Sales People cannot get access to these people when they really need them. The team working on an RFP document may be just the people who are not too busy at the time.
Sales People will become frustrated and disillusioned if winning new business is given a low priority by the subject matter experts they need.
Coaching not control
Good people go into Sales expecting a certain amount of freedom. They hate excessive control but they welcome support that helps them progress a sale and ultimately win the business. So Sales Managers need to work on enabling and empowering Sales People and keeping control to a minimum.
We ask Sales People to be responsive because that’s what customers demand. But how can they be if they can’t get the information they need from the rest of the organisation? Often I see Sales teams who are customer-centered struggling within an organisation that is not.
The Sales Process gives potential customers a taste of what it would be like to work with a vendor so unless the whole organisation is focused on meeting the needs of potential customers as well as existing ones growth from new business simply won’t happen.
Sales training is vital but is often perceived as a waste of time. Why? Because it’s not relevant. There is a huge difference between standard training and training sessions customized to your business and specific needs.
If you want the Sales Team to get the most from training all the workshops should be based on real projects that they are currently working on. That way everything they learn in the training will flow seamlessly into the work they do when they get out of the training room. That way they see very quickly that what they have learned makes a real difference.
If CRM is just something you input data into then, as a Sales Person why would you bother? If it delivers something back to the Sales Professionals they will be keen to put good quality data in. So good reports on key clients for instance will create a two way process that seems worthwhile.
And I shouldn’t have to say this, but the CRM needs to be straightforward and easy to use.
Access to best practice
You can’t expect results to improve if you keep working the same way. You need to give Sales People information about the techniques that have succeeded. Case studies which detail how a winning Sales Process delivered new business will give everyone the chance to do the same. And of course there should be case studies of losing bids so people don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Winning football teams spend hours watching video footage of their upcoming opponents. They study all their tactics and how they deal with every situation so when they meet them on the pitch they know what to expect.
Unfortunately, you are unlikely to find recordings of your competitor’s pitches, but there are plenty of ways to study their solutions and get insights into how they present their benefits and the ways they negotiate. A good Coach will help you there. Study the competition and you will be able to anticipate their every move.
Sales meetings that give value
We have all been in those meetings where everyone sits around as each Sales Person presents their figures and the Sales Manager asks questions and gives comments. Most of the people attending are not involved most of the time and a lot of people get bored for no benefit.
Sales meetings should be more like Pit Stops where everyone can put their heads together to try and overcome barriers for people who need help. This encourages the sharing of good practice and the attendees come away with new and useful ideas.
Give them the prerequisites and they will do the job
Sales People want to do a great job. They like the buzz of success and commission certainly adds to their motivation. I rarely hear Sales People complain about prospects or even competitors, but I often hear them say their own organisation is the biggest problem.
If the organisation doesn't back the Sales Team that team cannot deliver. As a result, the organisation suffers. I am not saying that sales is hindered consciously but all the little extra bits of admin and individual deficiencies to support sales amounts to sending your Sales People into a tough competitive world with one arm tied behind their back. Support your sales team in the ways I have outlined above and they will have a far better chance of success.
Do you ask Sales People to do things which prevent them selling?
Is the whole organisation customer and prospect centered?
Do you share information that will repeat successes and prevent failure?
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