Sales is the name of the game for any business. Without customers, nothing happens and we all pack up and go home. What follows is Leadership Development’s “Down and Dirty Dozen” – some guiding principles for keeping energy in the lifeblood of your sales team:
1. Feed your sales people lots of specific encouragement. This is not the Vince Lombardi “Get out there and do it” hoo-rah, but rather “I really like the way you’re doing ‘X’ lately.” Specific encouragement from the boss is fuel for the sales person’s soul. Mark Twain said “I can live for two months on one good compliment.” Salespeople live on compliments, too.
2. Make your sales team into a sales team. By eliminating competition between or among your sales staff, you put them on the same team and they start helping each sell more. Sales teams work best when they function as a team—not when competing against each other. The other company is the competition, not the coworkers!
3. Drop the word “why” from your sales meetings. “Why” questions put people on the defensive. Replace “why” with “what” or “how.” For example, “Why didn’t they buy?” can be replaced with “What was their main objection?” Instead of blame, this opens a dialog on “how” to overcome the objection and “what” might be done to close the sale.
4. Keep it fun. Many salespeople find sales fun, but get worn down with all the pressure and negativity. By keeping things fun, your sales team gets reinvigorated and enjoys coming to work.
5. Practice the fundamentals. Good fundamentals are needed to keep sales results coming. Proper qualifying, good demonstrating, and asking instead of telling are a few common fundamentals. Find ways to practice these basics, such as through role-play. It’s an excellent way to improve skills without practicing on customers.
6. Have a system and make it a habit. Most sales operations can be quantified into a very learnable system. Writing out the flow-chart and reviewing it until it becomes second nature helps your team “stay in the groove.” Periodic re-examination of the system is also a good idea.
7. Use the rule of three’s. Using the number three is a good way to set standards in your sales force. Examples might be: three review sessions with the sales manager per week, or three sales leads per day. However it works for your company, try putting things in threes.
8. Know what motivates each sales person. This may be one of the more important points. The point is that what motivates you may not motivate everyone on your staff. Your people will become energized when you take time to find out what trips their triggers and then act on it.
9. Give what you want to get. If you want respect from others on your sales staff, give them respect, too. If you want them to keep their word, you have to keep yours. Using positional power alone is like a using a narcotic: it may feel good and sometimes even powerful, but the short term euphoria only masks the destruction taking place internally.
10. Focus on what to do. Although sales people need to know what not to do, you will come out ahead when you focus on the activities you want them to do. In other words, saying “Tell them ‘X’” is much more effective than saying “Don’t tell them ‘Y’” all by itself. This keeps your sales team focused on achievable actions, not trying to avoid something.
11. Reward the “no’s.” Too many “no’s” can bring a sales person down, especially when pressured for sales. No’s lead to a “yes,” so providing a reward for working the whole system is motivation to keep working the system. No’s are always part of the system.
12. Create a “baseball” mindset. A top-rated slugger goes to the plate expecting to get a hit. Two out of three times it isn’t going to happen, but he still expects it. Similarly, a sales person needs to expect a sale with every presentation, but understands that it won’t always happen.