When I work with sales teams and their leaders, I take the success factors approach, that is, looking at the factors that enable success. This is somewhat similar to a root cause analysis framework to understand operations, and ultimately make problems explicit in order to attack them.
Among those success factors are: People, process, technology, technical skills etc… And after an analysis you may say, well low results are caused by a poor process (process), in which case you know you have to work on the process, or by people not having the right skills and so forth. You may also say, well it is a Technology problem, we don’t have a CRM, and then you know which direction to take… Etc…
What many sales teams and sales leaders overlook is that poor results frequently come by people not knowing how to use the phone. Period.
It is not a technology problem, right? You provide each Sales Executive with a number in your main switch, and a mobile phone. But, given the fact that the phone is the most common technology available, Sales Leaders do not consider providing the training, coaching and mentoring for people to excel in using the phone.
If you implement a new CRM, or new Marketing Automation automation technology, most likely you will include the training and tutorials that come with it, right? (Please tell me I’m right, please..!). But since people have been using the phone like “since forever” who thinks of making them champions in using it? Fact: They are stuck in whatever level they are. No more, no less.
If this is your strategy and your approach, it can be rephrased as: “I leave success of my team to chance regarding the most powerful business accelerator, and secretly hope for them to come skilled from their previous job.”
- Make the case. If in doubt on these ideas, measure the cost, and impact of mostly visiting instead of calling, and connect to the duration of that sales cycle. Same thing with email: If this is the center of your strategy, start measuring the impact on the duration of the sales cycle with this technology. Even though visits and email are great ways to connect. Whenever possible visits are great of course, but costly and time consuming, and honestly it is very awkward to engage in a meaningful negotiation, or finding ways to truly accelerate deals by email. If you don’t start by measuring performance this way, problems will not become explicit, and no urgency to take action will spark.
- Get your thinking straight: When you think “I’ll shoot them an email instead of calling” understand that at least half the times you are: (a) delaying the deal, (b) weakening the engagement, and (c) positioning yourself as a weak option.
- Prepare . Outstanding preparation of your value proposition for each segment of customers, product or product line. Without this your Sales Team does not have meaningful contents for their conversation.
- Prepare . Sales tools like Sales Guidelines, Smart Question Lists, and Success Stories also give wings to your team’s conversation. If you don’t see value on this, chances are you have not done it, you did it wrong, or you did not measure its impact correctly, both in time span or results.
- Role-play. Role-play is a fantastic dynamic for people to dig on concepts, and feel how the conversation flows in a controlled environment. Again, if the idea of role-playing does not turn you on, chances are you’ve been exposed to it in the wrong way, or that you have to work in some of your personal competencies, for example, taking action (test, do, make mistakes and learn), career ambition (or doing whatever it takes), and maybe some communication related competencies, like empathy, humor, and public speaking.
- Do by testing. Don’t just call or have your teams call: Pick up the phone to test ideas, to connect with your buyer, to explain a solution, to see what works and what doesn’t. Document, measure, interpret data, get to conclusions and new assumptions, share with your team and learn from them.
- Delight. Yes, delight your buyers with meaningful conversations that spare them from the never ending list of tasks that fill their day.
The Phone is the most effective sales tool: instant, live communication wherever you and your prospect are. Think of it as a powerful acceleration technology that will help you close faster. Make it the center of our strategy and of course complement it with visits, e-mail, text, video and whatever other means you find.
Try these ideas, practice and iterate, variate, make them yours… measure your performance and good selling!