Is your sales team helping or hurting your business? Are you sure?
Without sales a business doesn’t survive. And right or wrong, the Sales division always seems to be where businesses look first when the numbers are not in line with projections. The reality is the reason for poor sales could be any number of issues from poor marketing, the actual product, manufacturing lead times, the economy, and so on. The sales team is always the easiest target…the scapegoat when results fall short of projections.
We have written over 30 articles on the topic of selling. All of them provide useful insights into the secrets of selling success. A few of our recent posts that generated a lot of discussion were the Challenger Sales, the Power of H-D-H, and Advancing your Sales.
You may not have time to read all of them…ok, we know you don’t. So, for your convenience here are a few of the recurring themes from each of these.
Have a Sales Process:
If you don’t have a sales process your sales team is never going to achieve their fullest potential. Have you ever tried to assemble something complicated without instructions? Bake a loaf of bread without following the required sequence of mixing the ingredients and letting the yeast work it’s magic before baking? Your team must have a repeatable process they take their clients through. If you think they all know it and it is in their heads, have each of them write it down and compare what each person writes, you may be surprised.
Educate your prospects:
People love to buy, they hate to be sold. If your idea of a good sales presentation is a one-way conversation with your Ace Salesperson telling the client how great your product is, you may want to reevaluate your message. Your customers want to be educated. Share with them how your product is going to help them solve a problem. But how do you know what their problems are? Try this….
…Ask Questions & Listen:
The stereotypical sales person is a big talker; the out-going, life-of-the-party individual. That doesn’t always bode well for implementing a listening strategy into the sales process, but it is critical to their success. You have to ask questions and listen. You can’t solve a problem, if you aren’t taking the time to ask the client what their problems are. Even if you know your product is going to solve a specific problem for them, you are doing them a disservice and devaluing your product by telling them your new widget is going to solve their problem without first getting them to admit it is a problem. You can tell an alcoholic he has a drinking problem, but he will never stop drinking until you have asked him the question that gets him to admit it is a problem.
Understand & Agree:
This is an area where many sales professionals break down. The sales person is getting so wrapped up in asking questions and listening they forget about staying on track. They forget they have a process to follow (assuming they have one). At the core, following that sales process is what they are supposed to be doing. It is what they have to do if the company is going to sustain itself. They have to be following a process to get from point A (the initial contact) to point B (the prospect becoming a paying customer). You do that by understanding and reaffirming the answers your prospect has given you. Maybe you write them down on a note pad, maybe you just verbalize them back, but you must let the prospect know you are hearing what they are saying. In doing so, you can get permission to go onto the next step of your selling process. And when it is done properly, each step of your process should bring you one step closer to sale.
What do you think? Is your sales team helping or hurting your business? How would you grade them in these four areas of selling for success? How would you grade yourself as far as giving them the tools? As always, we welcome your comments in the space below.
Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach