Can your salespeople execute the sales techniques

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CEO’s and Sales managers know well that there is a difference between what sales tactics a salesperson knows how to execute and one which his or her sales DNA will let them execute. It is a little like stage fright. We have all seen examples of stage fright. Actors who prepare, know their lines and execute flawlessly in rehearsals but freeze up when in front of the audience. Many salespeople suffer from the same problem. In training they know all the moves. They know what to say in every situation presented in training. But when they get in front of a prospect they fail to execute. Why, you may ask, does this happen? It is a simple explanation. Only 26% of salespeople have the sales DNA to be effective salespeople. Your self-limiting beliefs are what make up your sales DNA. So just like I was not gifted with the right physical DNA to be able to dunk a basketball, most salespeople do not have the right sales DNA to execute under the pressure of a sales call. If you manage a sales team follow the link below and find out where your team ranks in all 21 core competencies of effective salespeople. It won’t cost you anything to see where you rank.

When interviewing look below surface

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Success in sales has a lot to do with the self-limiting beliefs of the salesperson. These beliefs can make it difficult if not impossible for salespeople to execute sales techniques they “know” how to use. For example, if a salesperson believes that it is not OK to talk about money on the first sales call, then even though they are skilled in the art of uncovering budget they will not use the techniques due to their self-limiting belief. However, most sales managers focus on background, presence, product knowledge, how they dress, experience, etc. and ignore the issue of self-limiting beliefs. There are many self-limiting beliefs that salespeople have such as “I have to call on the purchasing agent”, “I need the prospect to like me”, “It’s ok if my prospect thinks it over”, etc. The problem for the hiring manager is that these self-limiting beliefs are not evident in the interview. You have to know what you are looking for and be a skilled interviewer to uncover them. Sales managers need to dig deeper on interviews to uncover the self-limiting beliefs of the salespeople. Alternatively, you can use an assessment specifically designed to identify self-limiting beliefs and the hidden weaknesses such as the Objective Management Sales Candidate assessment.

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Role Play With Your Salespeople

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Role playing is one of the best ways to train your salespeople. When you role play with your salespeople, you should play the part of the salesperson and let the salesperson play the part of the prospect. There are 3 reasons for this. The first is that the salesperson will expose for you his or her self-limiting beliefs in the role play. They will also show you what obstacles they anticipate happening on the sales call. When you know what obstacles they are anticipating, you can demonstrate the proper way to handle the objection or the obstacle. You can also condition their mindset (i.e. give them an empowering mindset which is the opposite of the self-limiting belief). That is the second and probably the most important reason for role-playing. Salespeople will role-play the worst prospect you are ever likely to see so that gives us the third reason for role-playing. It will sharpen your own sales skills. You will get to practice against the worst objections you will ever hear.

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Updates are not coaching

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One of the primary functions of the sales manager is to coach the salespeople. However, most sales managers are severely lacking in coaching skills. One of the biggest mistakes is substituting status updates for coaching. The coaching session degenerates into a pipeline review with little to no coaching involved. Status reviews give answers to questions like: “what is the next step”, “when will it close”, “what changed since the last ‘coaching’ session”, etc. This is all valuable information for the sales manager to know, but it is not coaching. The Sales manager should be able to get all that information from the CRM if the salesperson is keeping it up to date. Coaching, on the other hand, involves debriefing what happened on the last call and providing input on what could have been done better or reinforcement of what was done right. It involves understanding the salesperson’s mindset for the call and correcting it if it was not supporting the desired outcome. The sales manager should provide guidance for upcoming calls and advice on what the salesperson could be doing better. This venue does not allow for a complete description of what to coach on and how to provide the coaching. But stop turning your coaching time into status updates and pipeline reviews. Pipeline review and coaching are two separate things.

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Measure more than the bottom line

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Everyone measures the bottom line. Sales managers typically know where they stand at all times relative to the sales goals that were set. However, that is not enough to get a true picture of the effectiveness of the sales team. Sales managers need to track activity at the top end of the funnel. How many attempts (dials or walk-ins) are the sales team members making and what percentage of them lead to a meaningful sales conversation? How many face-to-face or phone meetings are they having on a weekly basis? How many of them lead to a qualified prospect? Effective sales managers know exactly what activity is taking place at the top end of the funnel. And, they know the conversion ratios. Any change in the level of activity or conversion ratios at the top end of the funnel is cause for further investigation and possible intervention by the sales manager. Activity at the top end of the funnel can be an early warning to increased sales in the future or impending doom. Sales managers ignore this data at their own peril.

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Track Pipeline Movement

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You must track pipeline movement to get a true picture of the effectiveness of your sales team. Most sales managers look at their pipeline regularly. However, what they usually look at is a snapshot of what the pipeline looks like at a given point in time. This is valuable information. But it is not enough. To get a true picture, you must track the movement of the pipeline. How do the deals move through the pipeline? How long does it take? Where are deals stalling. If you don’t track the movement through the pipeline you will run the risk of a false sense of security. Yes, you have a $50 million pipeline but how has the average sales cycle changed over the past month. What is the average sales cycle of the deals in the pipeline now projected to be? Answers to these questions are critical to understanding changes in the performance of the salespeople. If deals are slowing down, that foreshadows difficulty meeting numbers in future quarters and action can be taken to mitigate the problem, but only if you track movement in the pipeline.

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Difference between knowing what to do and what salespeople can Execute

It is intuitively obvious that there is a difference between knowing what needs to be done or said and what a person can actually execute under the pressure of a sales call. Any sales manager has experienced the maddening effect of salespeople who “know better” continually fail at certain aspects of the sales process. The reason this occurs is that knowing what to say is an intellectual exercise, but execution involves emotions or what we call self-limiting beliefs. The easy example is discussing money. A salesperson may “know” that it is important to talk about the budget on a sales call and will do so flawlessly in a role-play situation. However, if he believes that it is impolite to talk about money and he further believes that the prospect won’t tell him what he wants to spend, then he will be ineffective in the field around the discovering budget. To be an effective sales manager you must know what self-limiting beliefs your salespeople possess.

What is an “A” player

What is an “A” player? Turnover in sales is very high and I would venture to guess that most employers think they are getting an “A” player when they do the interview. A winner in sales must have the right sales DNA. While physical DNA defines things like height, strength, quickness, etc. Sales DNA defines your ability to talk about money, deal with rejection, etc. While physical DNA is obvious at first glance the problem with sales DNA is that it is not obvious even in an in-depth interview because the elements of the Sales DNA are more emotional than physical. An “A” player in sales is rejection proof, can talk about money easily, controls his or her emotions, has a supportive buying style, does not get emotionally involved in the sales process and has very few self-limiting beliefs. In addition to a strong sales DNA an effective salesperson has exceptional sales skills. knowing what sales skills is a little easier since some of them are on display in the interview. However, there are many that are unknowable in an interview. How are they at cold calling? Do they get to the decision maker? Can they close? The best way to find out is to use an assessment.

Raise your expectations

To raise performance raise expectations. The expectation has to be reasonable, but you should raise it above where it is right now. In many cases sales managers and CEO’s have low expectations without even realizing it. They Say “well, Joe is young. It is not reasonable for him to sell large deals”. It may not even be stated, but just assumed. Your children will live up (or down) to your expectations. Salespeople are no different. Set reasonable standards and expect them to reach them. This would apply to following the sales process, asking certain questions, updating the CRM, etc. Set the standard. Expect them to reach the standard. Don’t let them make excuses. Coach them when they fall short. Raise your expectations over time and watch performance improve. It works with children. (Expect more from a 15-year-old than you do from a 7-year-old.) It works the same way with salespeople.

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Excuse Making Prevents Growth

Growth of a salesperson as measured by sales effectiveness and an increase in revenue is dependent on many factors. Among those factors are motivation, an effective sales process, interpersonal skills, and belief systems that the sales person possesses. However, a trait often overlooked is personal responsibility. Or, said another way, the tendency to make excuses prevents you from growing as a salesperson. Here is a quote from Colleen Francis in her engage selling blog.

Now, there is obviously a mixture of key strengths an ideal salesperson should possess, but one that stands out for me is personal responsibility.

A salesperson is simply not prepared to reach their maximum potential until they take responsibility for their wins, losses, and their development as a sales professional.

When a person makes excuses for lack of results what they are actually saying to themselves (though they may not realize it) is “I don’t have to change. I just have wait for the world to change and then my results will be better.” Personal responsibility is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for growth. If I do take responsibility but don’t commit to discovering what is causing the failure and then further commit to changing it I will remain stagnant.

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