In your company, you don’t just need transactional sales reps or account executives. You need straight-up sales assassins. These professionals are masters at reading clients, overcoming objections, and getting deals done. You’ve seen them in action and know the kind of sales beasts I’m talking about, too. It’s like they walk into a room or hop on a call and the champagne just falls from the heavens. Those are the incredible sales assassins your business needs.
So where do these behemoth acquisition and sales leaders come from, anyway? And can you be developing your existing team into such a business unicorn?
Actually, yes. Much of how business is conducted today is different than in years past. And that shift in customer engagement provides an opportunity for sales reps to evolve into a new space. Whether you’re selling cosmetics or designing multi-million-dollar commercial buildings, this is the ultimate guide for building your own team of client acquisition assassins.
How to Evaluate Your Sales Training Process
Before you even look at your bench strength or think about evaluating your salespeople, reflect on your company processes for training first. You might have the most brilliant material to coach your teams. But if your training model is terrible, your staff won’t absorb what you’re trying to teach.
There are core basics to incorporate into any effective training method. Start with simplification. Break down those boring, day-long conference room or online meetings into substantive, informative, and easy-to-digest sessions. A complete series of training initiatives should also have transparent definitions of success. What does a win look like for a new sales rep? What does an objection look like? Where are the additional support resources when a salesperson needs help?
Develop Ongoing Training Modules or Processes
With the implementation strategy and proper definitions in place, you can then devise an ongoing path for continued sales learning. Remember, sales is about engagement, a phenomenon that changes constantly. Your sales training should also evolve and never be a one-and-done step.
Another key internal process evaluation step involves a closer look at who’s doing the training. Some companies make the mistake of delegating sales training to HR. And not to take anything away from the important work of human resources, especially because their roles are to introduce and enforce workplace policies, but they’re not salespeople. Instead, look to your sales managers or leading sales veterans as coaches for your sales teams. They know and understand the job better than everyone else and can better demonstrate what it takes to be a sales assassin.
New Hire Sales Training
Consider setting up two methods of sales training. One set of coaching criteria should be reserved for ongoing sales best practices and efforts. The other should include proper introductions to the company, products and services, and fellow team members as part of your official new hire onboarding and training. These types of training engagements can often be one on one and should include guided supervision over a period of time to ensure the new salesperson finds his or her footing.
It might include:
- Listening in on calls and pitches
- Shadowing other salespeople on the team for a few days to observe
- Materials identifying common client pain points and objections
- Personalized coaching through each phase of the sales process
How to Evaluate Your Existing Sales Teams
Who are your sales reps, and what unique experiences do they bring to the role? You might have one who’s really great at cold calling but needs help with closing techniques. Another rep might be great at building relationships with customers but is gun-shy about asking for the business. Take the time to really reflect on past metrics, strengths, and weaknesses so you can develop a more personalized coaching strategy for each member of the team. One-size-fits-all will not work when you’re developing sales assassins. It’s about fine-tuning and clearing the path for improvement at an individual level.
There is a big difference between sales skills and sales processes. If you have a great rep who’s only great because of individual skills and personality, you won’t be able to replicate that across the entire team. Instead, look for sales processes to be the road map for every level of sales skill to use to achieve success. Rookie sales members should be able to look to your process and be confident they have the formula they need to close deals. If they only look at your savvy, smooth-talking veterans for technique, they’ll fail to duplicate someone else’s secret sauce, get discouraged, and turn over.
Your sales training processes road map should include best practices for:
- Making introduction calls
- Managing a sales funnel
- How to nurture clients not ready to buy yet
- Benchmarks for goal-setting sales progress
- Overcoming objections
- How to ask for the business
- How to build a proposal
- How to prepare for a presentation meeting
- How to organize an activity calendar
Think of it like McDonald’s. Every franchise location uses the same method for building the Big Mac. No matter what McDonald’s you visit, you know you’ll get the same version of the popular burger. You can, however, request your burger without pickles or with extra lettuce, right? Your sales training should follow the same idea. Provide instruction for every rep to walk the same path to sales success and allow them to customize their process to their individual strengths and weaknesses, making it their own.
Sales Training and Coaching Techniques
Sales training should involve a healthy mix of both official process guidelines and individualized development. There is training, and then there is sales coaching. Whether you’re doing the coaching yourself or you have designated leaders doing the coaching, these are the elements needed to ensure your salespeople get the insights they need to grow into sales assassins.
Self-Diagnosis and Discovery
Sales coaching involves teaching a sales rep how to perform self-diagnosis and discovery. Sales assassins know how to look internally and dissect what went right and what went wrong with a client call. They’re quick to identify what they could have done differently to achieve a different outcome, too. Your sales coaching efforts should reinforce this self-diagnostic behavior to encourage ongoing growth.
Planning and Adapting for the Next Call
Coaching also means teaching a sales rep how to effect change for the next time. Each misstep or missed opportunity is a chance for learning. But some need instruction on how to actually implement change and understand the consequences of not doing so.
Creating a Plan of Action
There are going to be rough days in the field. Whether your reps are on the phone making calls or physically stopping into business client locations, some days are just going to be full of “no’s” and rejection. Sales coaching should include setting the expectations for these rough days and incorporating sales training on how to plan and act next.
Inspiring and Energizing
Sometimes, a rep will cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s only to be met with mediocre results or rejection. Coaching your teams means also reinfusing them with inspiration and energy. Remind them how to have fun with the job and with clients. Demonstrate what it feels like to get a win and build momentum. And remind them that sales can be infused with personality and character.
Proper Follow-Up Support
Don’t forget to follow up with your sales reps after you’ve spent time with them. Just because you’ve told them what to do, doesn’t mean they’re capable of doing it all without a little extra support and accountability. Make sure your salespeople have the resources they need to keep improving and enacting all that invaluable coaching you’ve provided.
What About Remote Sales Reps?
A lot of these methods and techniques for developing sales assassins sound right for traditional sales teams. But today’s environment is going remote, and many companies are embracing virtual sales teams and digital customer engagement methods. Will these sales training strategies work for those workforces and business models, too?
YES! These sales training methods will apply to those in the field and those making connections from the comfort of their homes. Just be ready to customize your training initiatives to accommodate your specific company engagement model. And here are a few additional tips, perfect for those remote sales employees who are eager to become sales assassins.
Keep the video on during those virtual calls. Customers want to put the face to the name and will be more apt to develop a relationship with someone they can see.
Don’t dwell on the pandemic. It’s the new normal, and it’s ok to expect your clients to know why you’re looking to schedule virtual calls, phone calls, and digital meetings instead of in-person.
Persistence is more important now than ever. A virtual meeting requires far less effort from the client than an in-person meeting. Don’t be afraid to routinely follow up asking to schedule a convenient time for a digital call.
Show off your shared-screen abilities. Don’t just attend a virtual client meeting without having something impressive to show or demonstrate. And don’t forget to offer to send that presentation material right to their inbox after the call.
Added value is mission-critical to any sales engagement. In today’s business climate, your clients won’t necessarily be interested in experimenting. They want straight-to-the-point, budget-precise solutions. Give them what they want and do what you can to put the added value cherry on top.
Get social. Your clients, regardless of what they do for a living, are on social media. Leveraging your social network, company pages, and LinkedIn included, will be a great tool for building those trusted relationships you need with your customers.
How to Use Sales Metrics to Develop Sales Assassins
Some leaders and managers out there use sales quotas and metrics as a “gotcha” tool. You’re doing yourself a huge disservice that way, however, and probably losing great salespeople along the way. Your sales teams are solid and know what to do. They need to make money, too and know what commissions are at stake. When their metrics falter, it’s a sign they need training and coaching, not necessarily a whip or probation.
Your sales metrics will be the data you need to sharpen your sales staff into assassins if you know precisely what to look for and how to implement change. If the funnel is full of activity, but no deals are closing, for example, it could be a sign that a rep needs help with closing techniques. If a rep is struggling to get proposals out, there could be an opportunity to coach him or her about understanding client pain points or objections.
Paralysis by analysis is real. So, don’t be so hung up with your sales data that you miss obvious training and coaching opportunities. You might be struggling, for example, to find out why a rep isn’t performing by looking at the numbers. But a quick closed-door conversation might be all you need to find out there’s a sick relative or recent personal issue at the heart of the underperformer.
Sales Training Mistakes to Avoid
Knowing what to do to build sales assassins is one thing. The flip side of the coin also means learning how to identify sales training pitfalls to avoid. You can have the best training initiatives in the world. But if you’re making these training mistakes, you’re sabotaging your efforts and your teams.
Sales is complex, no matter what you sell. It’s relationship-centric and dynamic; no two clients are identical. So, don’t make the common training mistake of trying to information dump all the details and techniques for every leg of the sales process all at once and expect results. Instead, introduce manageable segments of information, including separate training for prospecting, qualifying conversations, conversions, and account management.
You can’t whip a sales team into urgency. You can’t dangle the cash bonus carrot for long-term results, either. Instead of forcing a sales sense of urgency, develop a sales environment that allows individuals to find their own motivation for success. Arm them with great training, tools, and resources and show them how to be sales assassins. You’ll find they’ll want to follow your lead without the whip or the carrot.
Read This, Read That, Repeat
If you’re training a new hire on how to process payroll, reading material and documented processes are essential. But sales is an interactive process. Don’t expect salespeople to read a bunch of manuals and be able to apply what they’ve read. Go back to job shadowing, coaching, and leading by example. You’ll find they learn more quickly and are able to implement those interactive lessons much easier.
Bad Sales Managers
This one’s a big one. If you have sales managers in leadership roles responsible for supervising and evaluating your salespeople, make sure they’re top-performing assassins themselves. One poor manager, either because of laziness or a dictator complex, can absolutely ruin a sales rep’s confidence in a way that you’ll likely not recover. Make sure your top brass is top-notch and can follow your lead in building authentic sales assassins.
The truth is, any sales rep can become an absolute boss if provided the right sales training, coaching, and support. Tap into some of these strategies to make improvements in your sales force.
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