With your sales process clearly defined, you’ll start seeing results. Closing more sales means you’re landing more business. And you’ll soon find yourself needing a bigger team because of your growth. Developing a sales team involves more than just a few meetings to show them how to talk to prospects. Not following through on a training initiative properly will mean having people out there representing your business the wrong way. And if salespeople aren’t successful, they won’t stick around long either. This is the quasi-HR topic you need to familiarize yourself with now, so you can effectively onboard, train and develop strong sales teams among your ranks.
No one is better at selling or advocating for your business than you. That’s because you know your WHY better and understand what drives your vision of success. Bringing in others to represent your vision means you’ll have to introduce them to your story and WHY. Share what inspires you and only work with those sales professionals who can share and understand your inspiration.
This is where a power statement comes into play.
You can talk about your passion until you’re blue in the face. But it’s the official power statement or company mission statement that will serve as the companywide position and reminder. This is the ultimate standard under which you operate. And you expect everyone else within your organization to do the same. Ideally, it should be a one or two-sentence version of your elevator pitch, too.
Here’s an example. A company founder decides part of his company’s power statement compares the business to navigating a ship. Everyone aboard the ship (and part of the company) needs to be rowing in the same direction and is equally responsible for propelling the ship forward. To reinforce the vision, this leader put a model Viking ship in the conference room. As the company grew, he made sure every manager or new branch location had its own ship and a set of oars to hang in the lobby.
Now, what’s your power statement that best represents your vision and your WHY? And how can you immortalize it into inspiration for your new team members you bring into your company?
Depending on what kind of business you have, training new people on your products or services can take a varied amount of time. It won’t take long to teach someone about selling tires, for example. And it might require more in-depth training to educate reps on a tech-based software program you’re selling. But the point is, don’t send anyone into the field (literally or digitally) without having properly trained them on every aspect of your core products and services. Don’t just teach them about what it is, either. Be diligent about providing instruction, materials and support for them to fully grasp how your product or service solves a customer problem.
Meet Frank: Talk about how Frank brings in a sales rep and wants to deputize him the right way. He insists that before this rep even thinks about selling anything, he has to first spend two weeks in the shop, cleaning clothes and talking to walk-in customers. It’s this immersive experience that will allow this rep to recognize just what the business entails and appreciate why the regular customers love coming there for their cleaning services. It’s like Karate Kid. He doesn’t just learn karate. He learns discipline and muscle memory to serve as a foundation for his karate instruction. Frank’s sales training process follows the same philosophy.
Giving your team a list of prospects to call on might be a significant first step. But to really develop your sales staff, you need to educate them on how to identify sales opportunities. Teach a man to fish, right? Handing them pre-qualified leads can translate to quick sales and conversions. But teaching them how to find prospects in your industry will ensure more long-term sales success beyond any low-hanging fruit you might have now.
Meet Abby: Abby’s catering service and corporate lunch offering are taking off, and Abby’s bringing in a new sales rep to help follow through on all these new leads. Handing over a list of prospects to a new hire with instructions on how to do that is only half the battle. Once these leads are engaged and adequately funneled, this rep will need to know how to continue generating leads. Abby needs to train the rep on how to identify new targets, emerging market trends and ongoing sales opportunities.
When you hire salespeople, they likely come to the table with sales experience. They might even know about your industry already. But don’t presume they know YOUR way of doing business. Instead, introduce them to your sales funnel and chart the clear path to success for them. This also means reinforcing who your target markets are and how to reach them. Take any guesswork out of identifying key decision-makers and lay the groundwork for them to ensure they maintain momentum in the right direction.
Spend quality time introducing your new sales members to your buyer personas. Explain every nuance behind what drives your core audience. Don’t leave out any details, either. You might even consider implementing short quizzes as part of your sales training to reinforce the most important elements of selling your company offering. And don’t turn the noobs loose without first allowing them to shadow you on sales calls. Make them watch you walk through the process yourself, from intro to objection, to demonstrate precisely what you expect from them.
Again, just because new sales hires come with existing sales experience doesn’t mean they know how to overcome objections in YOUR business. Objections and hearing “no” can deflate the confidence of your teams over time, too. So, make sure you have ongoing conversations and meetings with them to learn about what objections they’re hearing. You can then coach them on overcoming those objections or tag along with them to demonstrate how you handle these sometimes difficult conversations.
Start with the basics, like understanding the four types of sales objections:
“It’s too expensive” or “It costs too much.”
When you encounter objections about price, there is an indication that your prospect anticipates a financial risk to opt-in. Maybe you weren’t confident enough in your presentation that you didn’t make a strong enough value proposition with your pitch.
“I’m not sure how this can help me.”
This objection is actually more of an opportunity because it means your prospect hasn’t made the connection yet. Now’s the time to rebut with open-ended questions that lead the conversation to the conclusion that buying from you is the best solution.
“It’s not important for me to make a decision right now.”
If now isn’t a good time to buy, this is your chance to get educated about when IS a good time to buy. Then, you can set up the next engagement based on their responses.
“I’ve never heard of your company before.”
This indicates a lack of trust in your brand. It’s an opportunity to tell your story and make the proper introductions. Ultimately, if the prospect likes you, he or she will consider buying from you.
A great sales call usually means all four of these objections were remedied. So, you can always start by coaching new salespeople on how to combat these four scenarios. And here are a few other objections and rebuttal tips to add to your sales training manual.
Your Product Isn’t a Complete Match for all the Client’s Requirements
- Look for workarounds that position your offering as the best fit, even if it can’t check all the boxes.
- Try to minimize the client’s perspective that a one-size, fits-all solution is in his or her best interest.
- Promote your capability of being 100% ideal for those solutions you can provide.
- If you can, educate the prospect that no quality provider can satisfy every requirement either.
One of Your Competitors Offers More Features
- Promote those features or extras you offer that your competitors don’t.
- Remind prospects of any potential downfalls or restrictions with those “other” features.
- If you can truthfully disprove a competitor’s claim without bashing them, do it.
- Try to minimize the desirability of those competitor advantages.
Your Company Is Just Too New or Not Big Enough
- Remind prospects that size doesn’t matter, but service does and provide existing customer testimonials and references to support your claims.
- Point out that smaller companies tend to be more dynamic and customer-service-centric, with capabilities to make quick decisions and changes that benefit the customer experience.
- Newer companies tend to have an advantage with innovation or the latest solution trends. The bigger, well-established competitors might still be doing things the “old way.”
They’re Just Not Ready to Commit
- If it feels like a timeline constraint, work with a prospect to identify what an ideal timeline to buy might be.
- Be convincing about why buying now makes more sense than buying later.
- Create a sense of urgency by dangling an incentive that could add value to committing now.
- Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a great way to compel a prospect to act.
Make sure that during your training, you take the necessary time to educate sales teams on the art of the follow-up. Reinforcing your sales cycle and understanding your buyer’s journey, the follow-up is an easy-to-overlook step. Following up with potential prospects is a critical step that can move potential customers through to the next phase of the journey. Don’t let potential leads fall off the radar because sales teams don’t understand how, when or why follow-up matters.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best product in the market and your meetings go flawlessly — if you don’t reconnect with the prospect afterward, the opportunity for a sale can slip right through your fingers. In fact, 80% of sales require at least five follow-up attempts.
Here are a few examples of timely follow-up reasons:
Following up on a cold call or email: After you’ve made the initial attempt to connect, you can follow up with your second engagement. Maybe it’s an email asking to confirm the original email or a call to confirm receipt of a previously left voicemail.
Following up on a conversation or meeting with a thank you: Whether you met someone by chance at a networking event or had a scheduled presentation, following up after the engagement will show appreciation. “It was great talking with you today.”
Following up after a buy-in consideration period to offer the next steps: If it’s been a reasonable amount of time since you’ve offered a proposal, don’t overlook the opportunity to follow up and provide the next steps.
Following up after asking for the sale: You’ve asked for the sale, and the potential client says he needs a day or two before he can commit. This is the follow-up conversation moving forward to secure the deal.
Following up on a referral connection: This follow-up conversation is a follow-through on a past referral.
Following up on an old “no” who may be willing to reconsider: Just because someone told you no earlier in the year doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to reconnect. Likewise, following up with an old “no” can drum up fresh leads for your sales funnel.
Following up on a timeline or schedule to reconnect: When a prospect tells you she can only make purchasing decisions at the first of the year, this is that scheduled first-of-the-year follow-up engagement. When it comes to deputizing a sales force, you need to be diligent about incorporating these key steps. And in the next blog, we’ll point to all the signs you need to be aware of that indicate there are sales mistakes in your strategy. If you need additional help or other ideas in creating the best sales training process as you grow your teams, let Awareness Business Group help