This article hits a key component to the overall success of your company – how effective your sales team is when representing your brand. It is vital for your team to understand communication and how to communicate effectively. Each person must endure training that helps him or her develop the necessary skills for success in a dog-eat-dog world. No matter what field your company is in, there will be competition. As the leader, it is your job to develop and train members of your team, delegate to more experienced members, keep them driven and goal-oriented, while also addressing potential downfalls and scenarios that could have a negative impact on their self-esteem. Prepare your team for success and they will go far. Your company will go far. Lay the groundwork properly and watch it develop and flourish over time.
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Does your team know how to communicate effectively?
Communication includes verbal AND non-verbal communication. When it comes to training a team, teaching them to use both verbals and nonverbals during conversations with potential customers is a must. If a salesperson is not passionate about what they are selling, potential customers will see it written all over his or her face. Therefore, it is important to hire people who are passionate about what the product and/or service stands for. Have you ever listened to someone trying to sell something he or she knew nothing about? It’s painful, to say the least. This is how your customers feel when you send someone out into the field that has no idea what he or she is talking about. Therefore, it is important to ensure your team understands every aspect of communication and how the delivery of the information will directly impact the sale. “The word communication is derived from the Latin word, communis, which means common. The definition underscores the fact that unless a common understanding results from the exchange of information, there is no communication” (Keyton, 2010). Communication also involves understanding. Sales representatives must understand what they are introducing to the potential customer in terms the average person is able to understand. Otherwise, the sale is lost before the rapport is even established. Before you send your sales team out, make sure every individual understands how important effective communication is in the sales process.
Does your sales team listen more than they talk?
This question ties into effective communication. However, I felt it necessary to allow it to stand on its own due to the overall impact it can have on daily goals. Here is a great quote you may want to use when training your sales teams: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen” – Winston Churchill.
I once listened to a podcast interview with a man named Jim Kwik. He is often referred to as the world expert in speed-reading, memory improvement, and optimal brain performance. In this podcast, Jim discussed the importance of remembering names as a business owner. He brought to my attention something I had never thought of up to that point: when we meet someone and they tell us their name, we are often thinking about something else (what is on our agenda next) or what we are going to say next. We are NOT listening. I found myself practicing this more in my daily routines – turning my brain off for a moment in time and intentionally listening to the others I came in contact with. While I am still a work in progress (as we all are), I did realize by becoming aware of this, I was able to remember more names and more about the people I met. I practiced the art of listening. In sales, we must be able to listen. When we listen, we learn more. There is no point in trying to convince someone we are the expert. In all reality, most people just want someone to listen to their needs. The more you listen, the more you can focus on the next phase of training your team: what makes your company stand out?
Does your team know what makes the company stand out from the competition?
Have you ever heard of buy-in? Buy-in is the ability to create a team that believes in what you have to offer. They see it as you see it. They believe it and feel it as you believe it and feel it. The team has unity and develops strategies based on the values of the company, not personal goals. The team becomes the company. Without buy-in, the sales team will not have the ability to genuinely show potential customers what makes your product or service special. What does the customer receive? Do they feel important or are they thrown to the back-burner once the sale is made? Does your company go above and beyond? What exactly creates distance between you and the competition? Before you can send your team out into the field, they must truly understand the concept. They must understand the why. Why did the company start? What was the passion behind it? What keeps it going? What is leadership like? Is the morale positive or negative? These are things you must find out as a leader. It is not about the product or service. It is about the quality of service the customer receives after the sale. Do you have social proof? Feedback from other customers? Do you offer a brochure someone can look at that shows all these things? Are you what you say you are? Are there areas of improvement needed before the value can truly be provided? What is the extent of service the customer receives? Are they confused after the introduction or confident? Has communication been effective enough the person knows, without a shadow of a doubt, you are the company he or she wants to do business with? So many questions. Nevertheless, this is an important aspect of figuring out who you stand out from. If your sales team can’t portray these things in the conversation, they most likely will not bring in the sale. Therefore, having a thorough understanding of the why and how is vital to the sales process and the team’s overall success.
Does your team collectively know how to overcome objections to the sale?
The cold hard truth is that not everyone is going to want what you have to offer. Some members of your team will inherently understand this and have the ability to move on. However, there will be a few who get impacted by rejection in such a way that it can take them down a rabbit hole they won’t have the ability to bounce back from. Make sure you have set your team up for rejection. Let them know rejection is perfectly acceptable so long as they have communicated the information in the most effective and genuine way possible. Many of us have allowed others to have such an impact on our thinking that we are unable to recover from rejection. This could be due to many factors, including past rejection from friends and family – loved ones who have rejected us. If there is anyone on the team that has dealt with any of these things, it may not surface until rejection occurs. Therefore, it is up to you as the leader to prepare them for whatever could potentially occur. Maybe they get a door slammed in their face when the potential customer is having a bad day. The sales team must understand the attitude of others can’t be taken personally. The team must collectively learn to accept rejection and move forward. This is the job of the leader to ensure they are prepared for any scenario. Prepare them today and you will end up with a quality sales team that develops resiliency and discipline over time. Check-in with your team. Delegate someone else to take lead if you are unable to. Regardless of what it takes, ensure the team has a meeting before the day starts to help develop a proactive and positive mindset and debrief them at the end of the day to see how things went overall and what can be improved upon going forward. This is how we keep morale high and keep our sales team from becoming burnt out. Use your more experienced sales team members to enhance teamwork and comradery every day. Schedule regular mentorship appointments with your sales team members periodically and find out how they are doing. Don’t assume they are just going to get it. Some people take a bit longer than others. Nevertheless, the more we, as leaders, do to assist our team along the way, the more successful we are overall.
Does your team understand what motivates your customers to buy?
In this section, it is important to determine the pain point for your customers and ensure your sales team understands this thoroughly. Why does your product or service help your customers? Does your sales team understand the concept and the potential customer? A great way to receive feedback is to ask questions to the customers. What do they enjoy about your product or service? What does it offer them? When answers are received, bring your sales team in to examine the responses and use the information to help the team understand the potential customer. Without understanding the market, the sales team won’t have the ability to bring forth the information in such a way that it makes your product or service stand out. Make sure your team not only understands the company but also the customer. Know the psychology of the customer – who he or she is, why he or she is suffering in that area, and what your product or service does to alleviate that pain in the most effective way possible.
Does your team know which questions to ask potential customers?
Before sending your team out to talk to others, it is important to ensure each individual has a list of questions to ask. Over time, the salesperson will know the questions by heart. However, starting out, you may be dealing with someone who gets a bit nervous. This is completely normal. It is up to you as the leader to ensure your team has everything they need to be successful in the marketplace. This should include a shortlist of key questions that have been tried and tested over time and have the best overall way of establishing a relationship with the potential customer. While it is important for the salesperson to be his or herself, it is also important for them to have some sort of outline to follow in the beginning. This will help them learn and grow. It will help them understand how to relate to others and how to ask open-ended questions to get the most information out of the other party. Arm your sales team for success.
Does your team over or under-deliver?
One key thing to remember, and also one of the most questioned concepts in sales is “do we over or under deliver?” If you overdeliver, you give them too much information and they don’t need what you offer, right? WRONG! Overdelivery has actually been proven to be more effective than keeping secrets, or under-delivering. When we under-deliver, the customer does indeed feel as though the salesperson is keeping something from him or her. The customer now doesn’t trust the salesperson and there is going to be a disconnect from here on out. If the customer does not feel completely comfortable with the sales team, he or she is not going to allow the conversation to occur in enough detail to truly learn more. It is up to you, as the leader, to train your sales team to overdeliver. Show them how to go above and beyond for prospects. While it may not always get the sale, the chances of that person referring your company to someone else becomes a lot higher. Therefore, it is important to bring attention to this in sales training and ensure your team understands the only way to truly establish rapport with potential customers is by showing them what they might see if they ever choose to move forward with the sale. Have you ever heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words?” This is where knowing your sales team and each person’s capabilities are becoming a priority for the company’s success.
In sales, we must address many things in order to be successful. The fact is, without sales, there is no business. Without business, there is no team. Starting with the individuals on the sales team and helping them develop skills, in the beginning, is important. Helping them grow and practice is also necessary. It starts with the team. Whatever we, as leaders, pour into our teams, will show when they go out into the world with our logo on representing the company we created. Think about this going forward. Build your team, build your success.
Keyton, J. (2010). Case studies for organizational communication: Understanding communication processes. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Ryan Lowe is a sales keynote speaker, sales trainer & sales coach. He has over 20 years in experience in Sales. In His career he successfully served as Vice President of Sales & Marketing for two major corporations. Ryan’s passion is to help sales leaders and sales professionals find solutions for a variety of challenges. He has created sales training and one-on-one sales coaching programs to help individuals and organizations reach peak performance. For more information on his sales keynote, sales training or sales coaching programs CLICK HERE.