A sales organization can have no competitive advantage greater than an exceptional sales force, and an exceptional sales force is made up of great salespeople.
How do you build the great salespeople that make up your exceptional sales force?
Nothing after this line matters if you don’t hire people with the right attributes.
You can’t build a great salesperson out of someone that lacks the character, the beliefs, the attitudes, and the attributes required to succeed in sales. Once you have a person that’s made up of the right stuff, only then you can build a great salesperson.
You hire for attributes, train for skills.
Combine Training and Experience
You build salespeople by giving them the training and development they need to succeed, and then you couple that training with experience. You train the fundamentals of selling and product knowledge in the classroom. You start to build a foundational understanding of the great game of sales inside your four walls.
But learning to sell isn’t an academic exercise; you don’t learn to sell in a classroom. You build the salesperson by getting them in the field to use what they learned as quickly as possible. This is where your salesperson obtains the real learning outcomes; it’s where the academic discussion comes to life.
But this training and gaining some foundational experience is only the beginning.
If you want to build a great salesperson, you have to help them make sense of what goes on in front of their dream clients. They learned some things in training, they attempt to use them in the field, some things go well, and some things go not quite so well.
Training tends to come undone at first contact with a real prospective client.
Coaching builds your salesperson by helping them make sense of their experience. It puts the training in context. It helps identify principles and their application. Was what went right on that sales call something the salesperson did well? Can you give them the positive feedback and reinforcement that makes that action their regular practice? Was went wrong caused by a mistake they made? Can you clear up their understanding of the principle they violated that resulted in that challenge? Can you give help them seeing the frame in which they are operating?
Give More Training and Greater Challenges
Building great salespeople requires ongoing training. In fact, I’ve come to believe the second round of training is more valuable in producing better salespeople than the first round. But we too often quit after the first training, or at least let up.
The experience between round one and round two totally changes what the salesperson gains from the training. In the second round of training, they’re looking for answers. They’re looking for help. And it’s no longer academic. Now that they’ve felt it, they have the kind of understanding that let’s you notch up their learning.
Building great salespeople requires ongoing training and development, as well as providing them with greater challenges. Salespeople develop by tackling greater and greater challenges. Building them means making sure you help them find and tackle those greater challenges.
Give Even More Sales Coaching
The top 20% of salespeople are coachable. They are always looking for an advantage, an edge. They are consistently trying to take on new ideas, anything that will allow them to succeed at an incrementally greater level.
Ongoing coaching is the key to building great salespeople.
Training and coaching isn’t something you can do once—or for a short time—and produce results. Growth and learning isn’t something that is accomplished in a single event. Building great salespeople requires a long-term commitment.
How do you build an exceptional sales force?
Can you build an exceptional sales force if you don’t hire well?
What obligation do you owe your salespeople if you want to build champion?
How important is coaching to growth and performance improvement?
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