Sales Best Practices Series: Grooming A New Sales Professional
I was thrilled recently when one of my clients asked us to groom a new sales professional who had graduated from a local University and joined their team in an acquisition sales territory. We immediately accepted the assignment and begin the grooming process. As we worked together, I shared a long list of Sales Best Practices that I’ve documented during my long corporate career and in the last decade that I’ve been coaching Sales Managers and Sales Teams. This series of articles on Sales Best Practices is the culmination of us emptying out the bin of fantastic sales behaviors we’ve identified over the years. We hope you enjoy the series and find them valuable to you and to your sales team.
Sales Intro Sales is all about conversions. You need, as a salesperson, to be converting interested prospects into loyal, satisfied consistently-returning customers, by demonstrating your willingness to serve them by adding value to their business and to them on a personal level. The best way for your company to sell your products or services is to plan ahead and to prepare every member of your team to position yourselves as a strategic resource that adds value to your prospects and customers. You do NOT want to be considered an alternative, and you definitely do NOT want to be considered just a vendor. Winning in sales is not about manipulative tactics and strategies that trick your customers into doing business with you, it’s about creating value, every time. Every time. Manipulating your prospects and customers is a losing strategy. Serving customers by creating value for them is the winning strategy.
Sell Value Every Time, Never Sell On Price Alone Proper selling is best accomplished by ensuring that you and every member of your sales team in your territory are selling based on creating Value for your prospects and customers and avoiding the temptation to ever sell on discounts and price. Selling is a difficult profession, but it is a valuable one when you commit to consistently creating value for your prospects and your customers. Selling based on discounts and prices alone doesn’t position you for success because you’re not really creating any value for the customer that your competitors cannot match. Selling based on discounting and pricing is lazy and careless. Differentiate yourself and your company (and your selling team) from your competition at every opportunity, by doing your homework and figuring out how to create a differentiated value that your competitors cannot match. When your value to your customer is clear and strong, your chances of winning the deal are maximized. When you build value into every sales campaign your revenue and margin attainment will grow and benefit your company significantly, and your career growth will be accelerated.
Always Be Well Prepared There’s a reason why the Boy Scouts of America believe in being prepared. There is no better alternative than to be incredibly well positioned and prepared for your sales campaign. Do your homework, and do your research. Gather data on each of your prospects so that you can build a powerful business case by being well-informed about your prospect’s business goals and priorities. You want your prospect to conclude that you are so well-informed that you’re like an insider. You want your prospect to believe that there are a significant number of good reasons why they will be best served by you and your company. Being well prepared is about reading their company’s financial statements, their SEC documents, and studying their website so that you and your team can understand their facts, business drivers, and the key motivators affecting their current business position. The idea is for you and your selling team to position yourself as a member of the customer’s team, from your first interaction with them through each and every successive conversation and interaction.
Develop Coaches Whenever Possible High-performing Sales professionals realize that it is imperative that they cultivate a strong network of coaches inside of their prospect and customer accounts. Think of coaches as people who can wield influence with decision makers and who also want very badly for you to win their business for multiple reasons. The best idea is to develop multiple such coaches within each of your accounts. These days, those coaches will move on frequently from company to company as the circumstances change at companies and as they position themselves in the marketplace for maximum market value realization. Having five coaches is better than having three, and having 3 friendly coaches, is always better than one. I learned from a great sales trainer many years ago, a man named Mark Shonka, that the best definition of a great coach is someone who wins within their company when you are selected as their partner for the business project you’re proposing. Develop as many coaches as possible, as often as possible.
If You Want To Go To The Top, Go Together Remember that deals are almost never won or lost on your contribution alone. The very best sales professionals are finely attuned to the skills and resources of every person on their selling team, including executives, their pre-sales architecture or engineering partner, their product marketing team, their inside sales support team, their business development support team, their post-sales technicians and engineers and so on. These are the people who can help you to win and make you look good before and after the sale. You will get more credit in the long run by sharing the credit for a big win, and by being willing to leverage the talents and resources of the entire team, rather than by being a lone wolf and going through the sales campaign by yourself. Show your gratitude to your colleagues for their contributions and celebrate their victories as enthusiastically as you celebrate the teams’ victories, and you’ll build great relationships with everyone on your team and be able to count on their support when you need it.
That’s a pretty good start. My young apprentice was busy learning her new trade from the ground up, and she was already showing signs that she was a great listener who would put the best practices into practice as she developed her sales methodology. She began to do her homework and prepare as well as she could for every contest. She helped her entire team to be as well prepared as she was for every campaign. She emphasized the importance of creating value, and she developed a network of coaches inside of her accounts. She focused on earning the right to win and committing to a methodology that would allow her to win consistently. Check back with us next week for another article about this young lioness and her ascension to the top of the leaderboard at her company.
Michael is an award-winning Master Coach, certified by the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. Michael’s firm, Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting employs five coaches in the United States, helping fast-growth technology companies and small and medium businesses with Executive Development and Leadership. MBCC’s coaches also provide health and wellness and traditional business coaching and consulting services. If you’re interested in more information, check out www.michaelbeachcoach.com or email us at email@example.com. You can also learn a lot about leadership by checking out Michael’s podcast for Leaders and Emerging Leaders, What Are You Doing? Podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts…