26 Apr What’s the Second Step in Creating a Successful Sales Team? Have a Plan
What’s the Second Step in Creating a Successful Sales Team? Have a Plan
An Inborn Skillset; A Learned Skillset
In my own sales career, I’ve often found that the best salespeople possess an innate ability to deal with people. It’s this very ability that translates well into a sales career. That’s not to say one can’t learn to become an effective sales professional. In fact, I firmly believe that highly-motivated individuals can train and develop themselves into successful sales professionals. Additionally, even the best salespeople can benefit from regular training.
My belief in continuing training and on-the-job learning for veteran sales professionals and newbies alike is why I’ve decided to share some tips for effective selling. I’ve gathered these over my years in the field.
Working Hard; Selling Hard
I’ve often found myself reflecting on a quote by famed make-up artist Estee Lauder: “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.”
Reading this quote might bring to mind thoughts of burnout. How does one continuously sell without running out of ideas, without running out of energy, motivation, and fresh perspective? These are valid questions. The answer, although fairly simple, can be decidedly more complicated in practice. And what is the answer?
For the effective salesperson to never go a day in her working life without selling—and without selling hard—she needs a plan. That plan needn’t, necessarily, come from the salesperson herself, either, but might also come from her team, or from her manager or team leader.
Team Meetings and Communication
Managers and team leaders, working in conjunction with their teams, need to create sales goals for those teams. These goals should be part of a larger, overarching plan of attack. Leaders must also meet regularly with their teams to discuss those plans and goals, and to gauge the team’s ongoing progress toward reaching them.
How should a sales team be spending its time during these meetings? Here are a few suggestions:
1) Get to know your products, services, and company – Successful sales team possess intimate familiarity with what they’re selling and for whom they’re selling.
2) Establish a clearly-defined, easy-to-understand sales process – It’s critical to the success of your team that your selling process be clearly defined and thoroughly understood by the entire team. You can also use ToutApp, which I briefly discuss below, to help everyone adhere to each step of the process.
3) Create hypothetical profiles – What are the demographics of your team’s typical customer? Do you have multiple demographic segments? It’s important to create hypothetical profiles for your customers and prospective leads. Work to know your customers and leads as well as possible before meeting them.
4) Setting up hypothetical scenarios – These can be written beforehand or improvised during meetings. The important part is to plug your hypothetical profiles into specific sales situations you’ve either encountered or anticipate in the field.
For instance, how will Suzie Alarm-Buyer react when you tell her your company’s system costs $2,500—before installation? If you understand Suzie fairly well going in, you may be able to anticipate her reaction(s). How will you respond to Suzie’s concerns and objections to the price (or, for that matter, to any product-related questions, concerns or objections)? This is where point five comes into play:
5) Create and review sales scripts – To be as effective as possible, sales teams need a list of possible customer questions, objections, and various reactions. Your team needs to collaborate to make this list as thorough as possible.
Each potential question, objection and reaction—at least, the most common ones—need an accompanying, customized, written answer to address it. Again, collaboration among the team is key. Each team member should get to know both the customer portion of this “script” and the sales reactions as thoroughly as possible. Over time, as your team gels, grows, and meets regularly, this script will naturally expand and sometimes contract.
6) Dictate careful strategies – Combining your team’s profiles, scenarios, and script will enable you to create detailed strategies for answering questions and dealing with on-the-job obstacles. A sales team that takes the field with a well-considered, well-designed game plan has a much greater chance of success than one that doesn’t. Period.
7) Review, analyze, and discuss prerecorded sales calls – Including real-life sales calls done by members of your team can be a highly effective tool for educating the team, and for refining and sharpening your processes.
8) Motivational speeches – The value of giving your team an inspired, rousing speech to pump them up and get them ready to “take on all comers,” shouldn’t be underestimated. In many ways, sales is like an athletic competition. What coach worth his salt would send his team onto the field without a game plan and a pep talk?
9) Establish clearly-defined goals – This one almost goes without saying (and was touched on in the intro to this list), but the importance of clearly-defined, team-oriented goals can’t be understated. Every good team knows where it wants to go and has mapped out a route for getting there.
Below are some additional topics to discuss with your sales team:
- Are the team’s goals—individual and collective—achievable?
- What are the potential obstacles to those goals?
- How can your team revise its goals to be more efficient and attainable?
- What can management do to help the team reach its goals?
- How will your team hold itself for accountable for attaining its goals?
- What awards and/or rewards will you offer the team for successfully reaching its goals?
Tools of the Trade
Managers and team leaders should also provide their teams with the necessary tools to succeed. Sending your team onto the field without the proper tools is like trying to play a football game without a ball, pads, or helmets.
Some of the most effective sales tools for internet commerce include:
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator — LinkedIn is a professional social media platform targeted towards jobseekers and businesses. LinkedIn provides an add-on of feature for allowing users to better-target and connect to the right group(s). With this feature, user posts or messages are better-targeted to the right target market.
- ToutApp — ToutApp allows users to create a pipeline playbook that allows your sales team to gather leads and target accounts. This app helps ensure that team members are following-through with every prospective client and closely following the team’s playbook.
- Highrise CRM — Highrise offers a simple Customer Relationship Management solution that’s is easy to deploy across the company. Highrise provides easy, ready access to client information, serving as a dependable storage place for notes, emails, pictures, etc.
- Dropbox – Dropbox enables your team to interconnect, store, and share worksheets, pictures, and anything else needing to be accessed by multiple team members.
At the end of the day, your company’s sales numbers will be a direct reflection of the quality of your team. Whether you hired your team members or not, the goal should be to accommodate each personality, accentuating the strengths, while minimizing the impact of individual weaknesses.
It’s a good idea to add tools that help your team operate at peak productivity. And be sure to encourage more-experienced team members to mentor and teach more-inexperienced members. Most of all, the team should operate in a highly-supportive, well-structured environment where members know where to find answers.
Finally, although I’ve crafted this post based on years of personal experience, there are always new lessons to be learned along the ways. Never stop growing; never stop collaborating or learning; never stop working; never, never stop selling.
One of the best sales pitch around:
“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.” — William Clement Stone