Productivity was poor on the sales calls and we were asked for advice on how to get the team up and running.
Here are our thoughts:
I seem to recall a statistic that stated that 73% of companies believe their most valuable learning approaches are informal, yet only 30% of resources are focused there. How accurate that is I am not sure but I would certainly agree that informal on-the-job sales training can sometimes suffer from a lack of focus and structure.
Here is our advice on how to develop on-the-job training that will lead to the most likelihood for success:
- Focus on product/service knowledge first to make sure the new team know what they are talking about and can answer questions comprehensively. Nothing undermines credibility more than waffling or not answering a questions directly because you aren’t sure of the answer. Also ensure that the benefits of the product/service are clear to the new salesperson. It is natural to focus on features but remember no-one buys a drill because they want a drill … they buy it because they want a hole!
- Products/service knowledge can be embedded through some shadowing with experienced sales people, and some observation of sales calls. This also helps the new hires to get a sense of how to handle themselves with the customers
- If possible, get them into a smaller part of the sales process quickly, for instance prospecting, so that when they move into the whole process it is less daunting. Gradually build up their involvement as they develop their sales skills and understand the process
- If possible start on the easy sells. Early quick sales will build confidence and also give new hires the chance to find their feet in building relationships with the customer
- Assign someone more experienced to take them under their wing and show them the ropes. The first 90 days are crucial for someone new to sales, and unless you can help them to feel comfortable and supported they may well become discouraged and leave. The company has invested time and money into them so this is the last thing you want to happen. Ask the more experienced salesperson to keep an open dialogue with them so that they have someone to come to with questions or concerns.
- Share success stories across the team as these are a great way for new hires to learn on the job, and they also motivate the existing team. This can be done in weekly meetings, or in just sending out a weekly email to highlight successes and share sales tips
- Do a weekly check-in for the induction period. This shows the new salesperson that you care about them and you want them to succeed. It can be as simple as a quick phone call to see how they are getting on and whether there is anything you can do to help. But it is a powerful message that their success is important to you.
- If you haven’t already, start to document every part of your sales process. For new hires retaining the amount of information needed to do the job is impossible. If you can carefully documenting every part of your sales process such as scripts, frequently asked questions, CRM processes, etc, then they can easily look up the basic information they need (and that they may have forgotten) and it will save you having to answer the same questions over and over again. It also means they don’t feel they are constantly asking about everything and can just seek advice for the more detailed queries
- Encourage your experienced sales team to contribute to the documentation too as they learn new tips and tricks on how to sell your product, to ensure new information is shared with everyone.
- Celebrate big successes with the whole team to create a sense of a unified team and to motivate all members.
And it should lead to increased sales too!
Do you have anything to add from your experience? If so, please let us know by commenting below.
Being a good listener is one of the key characteristics that all brilliant sales people have. When we undertook our survey to help inform us when we wrote Brilliant Selling, we found that when we asked ‘what are your key strengths as a salesperson?’ listening was the top answer.
Many of us think we are good listeners – but are we really? Are you guilty of any of the bad listening habits below? If you are then remember that awareness is the first step towards insight that allows you to improve.
So if you recognise that you have some of the bad habits here, print out our graphic and look at it before you go into your next customer meeting, and ensure that you are truly listening effectively next time. It WILL make a difference.
You can download our Become a Good Listener to Sell More graphic here. Do you have any tips on becoming a really effective listener?
When selling, we often don’t think consciously about how we are going to do it and whether our sales approach will help or hinder our success. We process huge amounts of information every second of every day and have to simply adopt habits in order to manage this. And over time these habits become unconscious – we do them without thinking.
Everyone sells differently, and in order to sell authentically we all need to be ourselves. It is no good trying to ‘become’ someone else when we sell. What we need to do is to consciously understand ourselves and our preferences, or habits, so that we can continue doing what works and change what does not – whilst still remaining ourselves! We have many different preferences that decide what we pay attention to, what motivates us and how we respond in different situations.
When we learn something, we go through a period of time when we have to concentrate and put all of our attention on the thing we are learning – for example, riding a bicycle. After a while, this simple becomes an unconscious skill. We have developed a habit.
To change an existing habit or to create a new one, we need three things:
We must be consciously aware of our existing habits if we are to change them. We need to have the knowledge of how to change and we must have the desire to make that change now. Some of our selling habits currently support a good result and we need to be aware of these as well. The more consciously competent we are at some aspect of selling, the better we will get at it. You can find out more in The C3 Model of Influencing Field Guide.
Imagine this scene. You have just finished a lengthy sales meeting with your boss. You have been left in no doubt that you have to hit the quarterly revenue target. In fact you spent most of the meeting discussing the revenue number and the prospects and how likely they were to close this quarter. Your boss is under pressure and therefore so are you, so the focus was on ranking and likelihood of deal closing. Does that sound familiar? This meeting is about results only.
It is often said that ‘sales is all about results’. In a real way this is true, but the only problem is we can’t ‘do’ a result. If the sole focus of our attention is on the number, target or sector penetration percentage then we might know when we have got there (because it is measureable) but in order to ‘get there’ and achieve that objective we will need to focus on performance – those things that we can control or do and which either contribute or detract from achieving the result.
Contrast this with a meeting that outlines the result (you need to hit the number) and then discussed your specific action plan for each account. Perhaps for one the focus is on the next meeting and how you can plan and prepare. Maybe for another it is brainstorming how you can reach the decision-maker and what you can do to influence them the most. This meeting is focusing on different aspects of performance that will help to maximise the chance of achieving the result or objective that you want.
What makes a focus on performance so effective is that YOU are in control of it. If you think about an Olympic swimmer training for the 400m freestyle event, clearly the result he or she wants is to win the event. But the swimmer can’t control the outcome because there will be seven other swimmers in the same pool. But the swimmer can focus on his/her own performance and set a challenging performance goal which acts as the focus.
There are many things that contribute to performance in sales and you need to keep focused only on these things that you can control or things that you are able to influence. A big part of what can make the difference is being able to influence in ALL sales situations – whether it is a telephone conversation, a first face-to-face meeting or a key presentation – and not just those situations in which we feel comfortable.
We have developed ‘C-cubed influence’ to focus on 3 areas that we can all control – confidence, credibility and connection – in order to become highly influential in any sales situation. We regularly teach C-cubed influence to our clients around the world, and if you are strong in all these three areas then you will become a highly skilled influencer.
We were delighted to be invited by Nicola Cairncross, successful internet marketing entrepreneur and creator of the Business Success Factory, to take part in one of her regular podcast interviews with global entrepreneurs.
In the interview Nicola probed how we have got to where we are in life, how we built up six and seven-figure businesses, how we work together and our thoughts on selling through influence.
You can listen to the interview now (below), or you can download it from I-tunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud here.
Podcast – Tom and Jerry talk to Nicola Cairncross about their business mind, business marketing and business money:
We are very excited to have just published our new e-book The C3 Model of Influencing™ Field Guide and it is available NOW on Amazon in Kindle format. It has been published worldwide and is available in 245 countries! The Field Guide is an innovative yet simple blueprint that can teach C-cubed Influence to anyone.
If you agree with us that few people like being sold to… but everyone is open to influence, then you will understand that being able to influence more easily in key situations can have a big impact on your outcomes, whether it is in business or in your personal life. The C3 Model of Influencing™ takes the many different aspects of behaviour, thinking and communication involved in influencing and distils them into 3 simple elements that form the foundations of influencing. The Field Guide has been written to actually teach you the Model through developing your skills in these 3 key areas.
What can the Field Guide do for you? Here are some ways in which your ability to influence people more effectively will help you right now:
- Ensure your message is heard in a way that maximises the chance of agreement and buy-in
- Influence your colleagues, managers, peers and customers to take on board your suggestions or points of view
- Make your presentations more impactful and influential
- Become more influential personally in your company, sector or area of specialism
- Achieve your outcomes through personal rather than positional authority
- Retain good relationships but make them more effective for you
- Become a better manager or leader.
The Model itself has been developed from both our own research, and research from others, and we have refined and trained it around the world to literally thousands of people. The feedback we get from participants on our programmes is that the C3 Model of Influencing™ is effective, transferable and easy to learn and apply.
As leaders we have a variety of different communities and individuals who we need to influence: our own people, our peers and the people we report in to. Being able to effectively influence all of these groups is critical to our future success.
If you believe, as we do, that influence is the key to success, then visit Amazon now to buy your copy of The C3 Model of Influencing™ Field Guide.
One of the issues that is often raised with us while we are working with clients on developing their sales teams is that of Sales Managers actually getting into the field as often as they feel they should. Having been Sales Managers ourselves, we both know how competing demands on your time and changing priorities can eat away at planned field visits.
In a recent survey only 37% of Sales Managers believed they spent enough time with their salespeople. But these visits are not only an important opportunity to meet customers, they are also crucial to gauge how your individual salespeople are performing during the sales process and to identify any development or training needs. Even if sales performance is adequate, how to you assess if there may be lost opportunities that could have been pursued had the salesperson dealt with a particular situation differently?
We believe that influence is at the heart of top sales performance, but there are also many other factors to consider during the whole sales cycle. And this is where we believe that objective Field Assessment Coaching can be an invaluable tool and can add real value in helping to improve sales performance.
We are able to offer this service now that we have a new member of the team, Adrian Burt. Adrian has a background in business development and sales and marketing, and has worked at both SVP and MD level inspiring, managing and coaching teams around the world. The Field Assessment Coaching is based on best practice identified in Brilliant Selling and The C3 Model of Influencing™ Field Guide. If you would like to find out more about this service you can email Adrian@brilliant-selling.com.
Few people like being sold to… but everyone is open to influence. If you agree with us, and you believe you can improve your sales by learning how to becoming more effective at influencing, then watch this short video to find out how C-cubed Influence can help you.
We are very excited to learn that the US version of Brilliant Selling, called “How to Sell Anything”, has been awarded a Gold Medal in the Sales Book category of the Axiom Book Awards. It is fantastic to think that our book is continuing to spreading around the World – it is now available on 4 continents and in 9 languages! You can find out more here.
Throughout his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey details what it is that effective people seem to do habitually. One of these habits is that effective people only focus their time and energy on those things that are within their control or influence. If you think about it, this is common sense. But how often do we find that we are fretting or spending our time worrying about things that we can simply do nothing about?
The Brilliant Salesperson recognises when they are doing this and they stop. He or she focuses on an element of the situation of which they do have some control or influence. For example, in an economic downturn it is easy to focus on how bad everything is and spend a lot of time worrying about how competitors are hungry for the business that you are also chasing. If you ask yourself what you can control in this situation, you may realise that the economy is the same for everyone and that your efforts are best placed deepening your prospect and existing customer relationships. This activity might create more of a competitive edge for you. While this approach will not make the problem disappear, it will put you in a stronger situation because you are choosing to focus on something you can action.
What experiences have you had where this could have been the best approach?