The senior sales leader said, “When I have the right team, I will train them.” The words he used betrayed his feelings about his sales team, that he didn’t feel that they were competent in their roles. He believed investing in this particular team wasn’t worth investing in, and that he was better waiting until he could assemble something like the cast of characters in an Avengers movie to train, coach, and develop them. There are two things worth noting here.
First, this sales leader is withholding. He is refusing to invest his time and his energy in his sales team, resenting that they are something less than he wishes them to be. Second, and worse still, he believes that they are his problem when the truth is that he is their problem. His salesforce is poorly led.
You will never build the best team possible if you don’t teach, train, coach, and develop the individuals on your team, improving them individually, as well as improving them as a team.
Slowing Down the Game
If you were a professional football player, your team would provide you with a massive playbook, and you would be taught and coached to run every play perfectly, knowing that your ability to execute the play is necessary to the play’s success. You would also have a strength coach and a position coach to ensure you are prepared to play at the highest level.
The reason we use sales playbooks is that sales is very much a contest, and because every interaction is a sort of play, with a chance to progress in the sales conversation or lose ground. The better you are at playing the game, the better your results.
We train salespeople so they can better understand the game, slowing it down for them by showing them the separate conversations by providing them with an understanding of the general pattern of the sales conversation, call it the B2B sales process. We also train them to understand their buyers, something you might call a buyer’s journey, even if almost all of the prevalent theories assume business-to-consumer or a more transactional sale.
By providing B2B sales training and development around the buying processes, you provide your salespeople a form of clarity about what they are seeing, what success looks like, and more and better choices to produce the outcomes they need.
Increasing B2B Sales Competencies
We also train salespeople using methodologies or frameworks to help them with the many and varied core competencies necessary to succeed in sales.
Without B2B sales methodologies for prospecting and resolving the concerns their prospective clients have about agreeing to another meeting with another salesperson, many of whom provided a disappointing experience, your sales force will not create the opportunities they would were they offered more guidance.
Without a methodology for discovery, one that allows the salesperson to compel change instead of probing for it, not only will the sales force produce fewer real opportunities, but they will also lose more of the ones they do create. Powerful questions are designed to help the client discover something about themselves and their business. Winning big deals is mostly the result of excellent discovery, something most sales organizations leave to chance.
The idea of closing as a competency has never been more important, as big deals are made up of a series of commitments. Salespeople who lack a conceptual understanding of the commitments both they and their prospective client need to make, as well as the language choices (plays, if you will), end up allowing the client to control the process, reducing their odds of winning.
21st Century B2B Competencies
There are relatively new competencies necessary to succeed in sales that are rarely trained, with most sales organizations lacking the conceptual framework or methodology required to improve the sales force’s skills and their ability to compete and win.
The very heart of consultative selling is business acumen, without which the salesperson cannot be insight-based, something that requires that you are qualified to tell people what to do to improve their business. Providing the sales force with insights is helpful, but without training in a methodology to enhance their business acumen, they will struggle to serve their prospective clients.
In days gone by, you would not have needed to train a construct for how to build consensus in your dream client’s company. Now, you need a deep understanding of how to identify the people necessary to a deal, how to help your primary contact bring them into the conversation, and how to sequence the discussions with specific stakeholders to increase your odds of winning.
While many talk about the significant transformation in sales being digital, it isn’t true. What has changed is the client’s expectations and what provokes their response. The outcomes of interactions we have with our clients weigh much more than the mediums that have commanded our attention over the last ten years. The message is always more than the medium, something that is going to be increasingly accurate, whether you are face to face with your contacts or video face to video face.
Technology is easy. Sales effectiveness is hard.
Creating Value Creators and Consultative Salespeople
The goal of training, development, and coaching is to build value creators, something that can be measured by how well they serve their prospective clients and their existing clients.
Many sales organizations don’t recognize how much the world of sales has changed, clinging to the belief that their unique selling proposition is enough to create and win new deals. Level 1 selling includes relying on something external to the salesperson’s performance to win, something that occasionally works. A modern sales approach starts from Level 4, the idea that the salesperson wins by creating more significant and more strategic outcomes their competitors, creating a distinct advantage.
His sales team is not failing the sales leader in the first paragraph of this post. He is failing them. He will never have the team he needs because he refuses to build it.
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Filed under: Sales