One of my passions is coaching sports teams, in particular ice hockey. I’ve been doing it for several years now and it never ceases to amaze me how inspiring it is to watch players master new skills that help them become better players. The best part is how they react when they finally ‘get it’. You can actually see the proverbial light bulb go on.
Typically, we’d start by working on fundamentals. We’d do the drills, day after day, over and over. Some players may pick it up early, while others can take a little longer. In either case, when the light bulb goes on, you see the most wonderful thing: confidence. They’ve mastered it and they’re doing it instinctively. They realize they have empowerment, and now there’s no limit to what they feel they can accomplish. It’s truly an amazing thing and I never tire of that special moment.
So what does “getting it” mean to sales? I believe that there is a similar parallel in business, and within sales team management in particular. As any coach will tell you, you have to be confident that your team has all to tools they need to win every time they step into the arena. But, I’d be willing to guess that, if you’re like most, you probably take a good percentage of that confidence for granted. Very often, companies assume that everyone has mastered the corporate playbook and they should instinctively know how to do their job. After all, it’s what you hired them to do, right?
But, that’s where the problem often lies. To be successful, teams can never take anything for granted. It’s why they spend countless hours on the practice field in preparation to get it right on game day. And in business, you need to look at it the same way. Here’s how:
- Have a game plan – Developing a clearly defined sales process that employs all of your best practices is worth the time and effort. When your team knows the landscape and the milestones, you dramatically improve their chances of success. They’ll now know what to do, where to expect the typical hurdles, and the best ways to overcome them.
- Drill them on the fundamentals – Most sales professionals know how to sell effectively, but are you confident they know how to sell YOUR product well? Don’t just dump sales sheets and brochures on them, or tell them to read the website. Develop ‘drills’ that encourage and challenge them to know your product inside and out. The sales axiom of “it’s easy to sell what you know” is never more appropriate. Make them know your products in their sleep. It’s really worth their time – and yours.
- Give them the skills/tools they need – Companies spend millions every year hiring outside consultants to train sales people to ‘sell smarter’ or whatever the latest buzzword is. But more often than not, it’s about learning a technique and not how it fits with your product. Like I said earlier, many salespeople already know how to sell. But, your people will deliver much more if they’re shown the best practices for selling YOUR products. That’s where having a defined sales process comes in and where sharing what you’ve learned over time will make a significant difference. When you share knowledge, everyone benefits.
So, when your sales team knows what to do and how to do it, instinctively, you’ll see their “light bulb” go on. They’ve just become better salespeople; fully prepared and confident that they’re ready to step into the arena and be successful. While you may not get an overwhelming emotional, parting-of-the-heavens-angels-singing reaction, you’ll certainly be inspired by the effect it has on your team, and, of course, your bottom line.
By Kary Zate
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