Monthly Archives: April 2016

April 26th, 2016

Bring structure to your sales coaching calls

sales-call-structure-meetings

In my previous blog post, Do you Intend to Provide Developmental Sales Coaching, but Tend not to, I explored the environment today’s sales leaders encounter when attempting to deliver developmental sales coaching. Despite their best intentions, time pressed sales leaders are pulled in so many directions that talent development gets put on the back burner. Bringing structure to dedicated coaching interactions is a proven way to build positive outcomes in people and results. Without structure and planning, sales leaders often mail it in, missing real opportunities to move their people to the next level of success.  Avoid this common pitfall by structuring sales coaching calls and each interaction around a guiding plan to bring consistency to the conversation, and ultimately results.

My approach is to organize coaching content into “buckets” that are consistent for everyone. When thinking through what I want to accomplish with a salesperson I am coaching, I typically build my planned dialogues in 3 buckets:

Navigating within the sales organization: This encompasses mastery of the sales organization, from products and services to the resources available to support the sales effort. How agile are they inside our organization?   Can they build customer teams on behalf of their client?   Do they build internal relationships?   Do they lead and quarterback sales pursuits with appropriate resources?  How well do they understand our products and the value they bring?  Can they translate that value to the customer’s situation? Customer and selling skills: This involves the » Continue Reading.

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April 20th, 2016

Do you intend to provide developmental sales coaching, but tend not to?

sales-coaching-priority

Frontline sales management can be one of the most difficult jobs within a sales organization. It can also be one of the most rewarding.

The eternal struggle for most sales leaders is being caught in the sales coaching versus managing conundrum. They intend to coach their people, but tend not to because of time constraints and the demands of managing within their organization.

Leaders can have the best intentions of developing the skills and talents of their direct reports through developmental sales coaching. But the information chaos swirling around them can get in the way. Those in management positions are pulled in several directions. Reviewing and commenting on data, running analyses and forecasts, conducting meetings,  and putting out fires are just a few of the demands of today’s sales leaders. The ability to deliver pure coaching is on the back burner far too often. Unfortunately, these time-pressed leaders end up just mailing it in and miss real opportunities to provide developmental sales coaching.

To attempt to compensate for the time-management crunch, frontline leaders will fall into the trap of surface coaching, which are conversations that are purely output- and result-focused. A forecast and pipeline are analyzed, and a typical conversation can center on the current state of those numbers without much dialogue around how change can be accomplished. Sales leaders often don’t dive into the developmental conversation they should be having. It takes real focus to resist the urge » Continue Reading.

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April 18th, 2016

Weak Sales Performance vs. the Greatness of Strategic Sales Development

sales-performance-change

The definition of insanity, as attributed to Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

When talking with sales leaders, I’ll often modify this definition and apply it to their circumstances. I’ll ask, “This year, if your sales professionals do exactly what they did last year, will they get the same sales performance as last year?”

If their company grew exponentially last year, they might say yes. More often than not, sales leaders reply, “If they do the same things as last year, we might grow a bit, but not as much as we need to.” If, however, sales were down the previous year, the reply will be, “If our sales professionals do what they did last year, we’ll be in bad shape.”

For most sales leaders, no matter whether they did well or not, the objective each year is to improve sales performance and grow revenues. To me, the sane conclusion is that sales teams need to do something different if they aim to achieve different results.

During these conversations, once we get to the point of agreeing that something has to change, I share four areas where change can make a difference in results:

Sales skills: Does the sales team use the Six Critical Skills—Presence, Relating, Questioning, Listening, Positioning, and Checking—for client dialogues to develop and expand relationships. Sales talent: Are the right people in the right roles. Sometimes it » Continue Reading.

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April 13th, 2016

4 Objections to Sales Training

sales-objections

I have been in sales for many years, well before joining Richardson last August. I have heard my share of objections from prospects and clients, and I thought it worthwhile to share some of the most common objections to sales training.

I don’t have the budget. There is an investment component to training, and if prospects don’t have money in the budget, that’s a valid objection. If I’m talking with the right person, they certainly have a budget to run their business, but they may not have set aside money for training in that fiscal year. If they agree in the importance of getting people to do things differently to get better results, then the objection really isn’t about budget, but about timing. Even so, it is worth having a conversation around what the investment might look like, and whether there might be more value in exploring a sales development initiative versus another effort they currently have allocated money for. The framework for this conversation is to develop a mutual understanding of what it takes to get sales professionals to do something different to achieve better results. I don’t have the time. Sales leaders are extremely busy, trying to juggle competing priorities in managing their teams while achieving their financial targets. I understand their time constraints, while knowing they could achieve more if they invested the time to get their middle performers to act like top performers. If they » Continue Reading.

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April 11th, 2016

Is sales training important for growing your business?

growing-revenue-sales-training

This could be a very short blog post. The answer, in a word, is “Yes.”

But let’s look a little deeper into the reasons why sales training is important for growing your business.

First, consider these assumptions:

Sales professionals drive revenue. Within every sales organization is a range of skills, talent, and capabilities. The B2B selling environment, with ultra-informed buyers, continues to grow more challenging.

Some might argue a new way of selling is needed to succeed in today’s digital, connected, mobile world. The good news is that while enhancements might be necessary, there’s a lot about selling that hasn’t changed.

Buyers may be more savvy and demanding, but they still need guidance to make the best decisions – and trust is still a major factor in making buying decisions.

What this means is your sales professionals must be skilled in connecting with the buyer on both a personal and business level. They must be authentic in establishing credibility and earning the right to ask questions. Then they need to gain pertinent information about the buyer’s situation, tailor insights and ideas, and provide a differentiated solution.

These are a higher-order level of consultative selling skills, requiring a greater degree of preparation, assertiveness, and initiative. The sale is still made in the dialogue; it’s just that the path for getting there is a tougher climb.

But if your organization has an effective sales process, one that all sales » Continue Reading.

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