Preparing A Sales Team to Win the Gold!

by Ken Eiken, Advisory Council Member of the EcSELL Institute

If you think about it, every time one of your sales people visits a customer, it is as if they are performing in the medal race of their Olympics.

Using Role Playing to prepare YOUR team to win Gold!

I’ve had great success using role playing to improve individual sales performance. Sadly, if your team resembles the typical sales organization, when you propose role playing during your next sales meeting, 50% of the group will roll their eyes and the other 50% will wet their pants. I’ve yet to find a sales person who enjoys role playing; however, the great ones use this technique to improve their skills! You as the sales leader need to set the tone and be an active participant in any role playing exercise!

Here are a few role playing ideas to try with your team:

  • Focus on your team members’ weak areas: Uncomfortable with the term “weak areas”? In sales, we don’t have time to be politically correct… we all have skills that we must improve to be more successful. If your team members claim not to have weak areas, you might be able to help them identify focus areas after a joint customer visit (from last week’s Blog). The key is to invest your precious training time improving skills rather than rehearsing areas of strength.
  • During role play, act as a credible customer: We don’t learn anything if the only possible result is failure. Even the toughest customers have some need that we haven’t discovered, waiting to be pulled out through effective questioning. While it is OK to role play a difficult customer, even a “jerk” if that’s the scenario you need to practice with your team member, engaging in a “hopeless” scenario will only build frustration and cause them to lose confidence.
  • Keep it real: A clever technique for role playing is to have your team discuss “real” customers / prospects that they’re working on for the simulations. Make sure that they give you all of the information so that you can accurately perform the role of that particular customer. When executed successfully, your sales rep may develop a new tactic for working with their customer – maybe resulting in some sort of breakthrough in the sales process.
  • The more the merrier: Some of the best role playing exercises I’ve used have a number of people; the “customer” (usually me or an executive from the organization), an observer (consultant or sales manager), and 1-3 other sales people (they’ll get their chance too)… Each one of these participants is responsible for providing feedback and suggestions to the person “on the hot seat”. Please reinforce with everyone that these role playing scenarios are “safe”. In other words, it is a learning environment where experimentation is encouraged and mistakes are not fatal!

Elite professionals throughout sports, the military, and other organizations use role playing to improve their probability of success. Role playing is a critical coaching tool for sales leaders to improve their team performance. Go for the Gold – Role Play!!!
Your fellow student of leadership – Ken

What Could Your Sales Team Learn in Two Minutes?

By Carlos Quintero

When it comes to sales training, a lot of managers mistakenly think they only have two options to choose from: bring in an outside training organization, or handle the training themselves.

Certainly, both of these should be a part of your sales training mix. As the leader of your department, it’s your job to be sure your team has the knowledge and skills it needs to compete for business, and no one knows your industry and situation better than you do. And at the same time, there is definitely something to be said for having someone with a new voice and perspective coming once in a while and freshen things up.

But it’s important to know that there is a third way, as well, and one that can be just as effective: having the members of your sales team teach each other.

In our book and workshops, we advise sales leaders start holding weekly “sales huddles” where producers can talk about issues and challenges they are facing in the field, give feedback on winning techniques, and otherwise raise topics that concern their selling situation. The only catch is, these meetings should take no longer than 20 minutes – and preferably less – and that each person can speak for no more than two minutes at a time.

This last point often surprises people, and understandably so. Don’t your salespeople need longer to fully explain themselves? Believe it or not, they usually don’t. That’s usually an adequate amount of time to talk about what’s going on and get some feedback, and short enough that most of your salespeople won’t be tempted to skip the meeting out of fear that it’s going to put them behind in their work.

Beyond that, getting a steady stream of two-minute thoughts, perspectives, and pieces of advice turns out to be just the thing to keep your sales team energized and thinking creatively. It’s not so long that they have to get bogged down considering every idea and implication, but it’s long enough for them to pick up an idea and see the benefit. And as the weeks roll on, so will the two-minute increments – meaning that your salespeople are always getting a little bit better week to week.

Short sales huddles are a great way to break up the monotony of weekly meetings. But aside from just making things more interactive, you might be surprised at just how much your sales team can learn in two minutes or less.

© Sales Effectiveness, Inc. – All rights reserved

 

Sales Coaching Decoded! A Practical Guide for Sales Managers

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12 Commandments of Goal Setting

by Della Menechella

Many professionals have a basic idea of what they want to achieve in their careers. They may want to close more sales, earn a higher income, or move into a different job. However, somehow they do not achieve the success they desire. Why? Why is it that intelligent, motivated, hard-working individuals are not achieving the success they deserve? It is because they haven’t set clear goals.

They may have a general idea of what they want to accomplish, but the mind does not work effectively with generalities. If you want to earn a higher income and you earn one more dollar, have you achieved your goal? No, of course you haven’t. Because you were not specific about what you wanted to accomplish, your creative mind could not assist you in reaching your true objective.

In order to be effective, goals must be written down in the present tense using clear, specific, vivid words. For example, if your goal were to earn a salary of $50,000 per year, you would write. “I now earn $50,000. per year in a job that is fulfilling and allows me to express myself creatively.”

Completing the following steps will help you set goals effectively so you can achieve positive results in your career.

1. Decide what you want to accomplish. The goal should be very specific. If you want to close more sales, how many more sales do you want to close? What do you want your closing ratio to be? If you want to move into a different job, what are the characteristics of that job?

2. Determine a deadline for accomplishment. A goal must have a deadline. If you do not have a date on it, the goal is only a wish or a dream.

3. Determine that the goal is believable to you. You must feel that the goal can be realized. If you believe it is impossible to achieve, you will never take the action necessary to make the goal a reality.

4. Where are you now? Take a current inventory. You will never know how far you have to go if you don’t know where you already are.

5. What obstacles do you need to overcome? Is there something that may make it difficult to achieve your goal? Be aware of the obstacle so you can make plans to overcome it.

6. What knowledge will you need to acquire? Will you need to earn a professional designation or take certain courses? Will you need to research new markets?

7. What organizations and groups should you associate with? Are there certain groups of people that can make it easier for you to accomplish your goal? How can you become affiliated with them?

8. What are the benefits to you? Write down as many benefits as possible. The more benefits you can come up with, the more likely you will be to stick to the goal until it is achieved.

9. Develop an action plan. Determine the specific steps that will be necessary to achieve the goal. Start at the accomplishment of the goal and work backwards.

10. Visualize yourself accomplishing the goal. See yourself in clear detail as if you have already achieved the goal. If you want to close more sales, see yourself closing more sales easily. Do this over and over again until it becomes part of your subconscious mind.

11. Take daily action towards the goal. Dreams and goals require action. The best goal in the world will never materialize unless consistent action is taken.

12. Resolve to never quit. Decide that you will never give up, even when times get tough, until your goal is reached.

Taking the effort to complete the steps in goal setting is not easy. However, when you follow these steps, your success is almost assured.

 

Della Menechella is a speaker and trainer who helps organizations achieve greater success by improving the performance of their people. She is a contributing author to Thriving in the Midst of Change and the author of the videotape The Twelve Commandments of Goal Setting. She can be reached at 732-985-1919 or della@dellamenechella.com. Visit www.dellamenechella.com for other free articles about how to achieve peak performance.

Are You Message-Ready to Achieve Your Goals?

By Kevin Steffey

Are your marketing messages ready to help you achieve sales plans?When you review the recent performance of your company against your sales plans and look forward on what needs to be done to accomplish your goals, a key item to review is your message to the market and your internal team.  Especially if you are adjusting your strategies to help achieve your plans, it is important to make sure your messaging is aligned to the changes.

A few items to review to see if you are message-ready to achieve your goals include:

  1. Is your message aligned with customer needs?  

Are you speaking the language of your customers and are you speaking to them when and where they can hear you?  Understanding the normal business cycle of your customers and positioning the correct message when they are ready to buy your product is key.  Review your messaging and your materials to see if you have relevant information for the different stages of their buying cycle.

  1. Is your message focused on your targeted products or clients?

If you are changing your product mix to take advantage of a hot product or targeting specific customers most likely to buy those products before the end of the year to hit your plan, do you have the materials ready to take advantage of this focus.  Often companies’ marketing materials development lags shifts in focus.  Make sure that special offers, sales campaigns, sell sheets, website, and social media editorial content all align and emphasize any update in your direction to hit plan.

  1. Is your message consistently communicated throughout your organization?

Have you communicated your short-term to intermediate-term focus to all your customer-facing organizations?  Have each of those organizations effectively adapted their communications to emphasize or capitalize on your new direction? Customer service, sales, marketing, customer training, and other areas should each have a plan for how to maximize opportunities in the focus areas.  Outline your offers, product messaging and key customer qualifying criteria that align to any updated plans you have.

  1. Is your message adapted for your different communication channels?

Messages have their greatest impact when all communication channels are complementing each other with consistent messages.  Review your website, social media profiles / posts, sales scripts, email campaigns and promotions, newsletters to ensure that the strategy and content for each of these channels is in line with your updated plans and objectives.  Also, leverage the uniquenesses of each channel to see if one or the other is better able to help achieve the short term objectives of hitting your plans.
By quickly assessing your organization against these key questions, and adjusting your activities to address any gaps, you will set up your business to capitalize on your potential opportunities.

Kevin Steffey is President of Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search, a national Sales and Marketing Recruitment firm.  Kevin and Naviga have a passion for sales and marketing positions due to their direct impact on the growth of their customers. Check out www.navigarecruiting.com to engage a partner in growing and developing your team.