The changes brought on by the pandemic and migration to digital channels has truly made sales and selling even more challenging. Sales teams cannot afford to be complacent as the country reopens and we collectively continue to adapt to our current circumstances.
This week we’re doing to dive even deeper by looking at the importance of having a clear marketing strategy and several considerations when considering how to best deploy sales training and sales coaching in your organization.
A Clear Marketing Strategy and Plan:
Have the leaders of your organization agreed on who your sales teams should be talking to and what they should be saying to get the biggest return on your investment in precious sales and marketing energy?
Does your sales team take more of a “shotgun” approach to the market or are they laser-focused on your target market?
All too often, the marketing and sales functions operate as separate entities never quite getting on the same page. There needs to be a clear marketing strategy and plan which includes four key components:
- Is there clarity about the characteristics of your ideal prospect?
- Does your sales team understand the demographic, geographic, and psychographic profile of the kinds of people and companies they should be laser-focused on selling to? If not, you’re wasting precious resources.
- What are the three differentiating characteristics that make your organization different or better than your competitors? Nearly every company touts their customer service, so you are going to have to come up with something more creative than that to set yourself apart.
- Does your sales team have a 1-page visual illustration of the way you take care of your customers, from the minute they become customers to the time they become long-term satisfied business partners? This is a powerful tool that “paints a picture” of what the customer can expect doing business with your company. It also will differentiate you from your competitors while making prospects feel more comfortable becoming customers.
- Does your company offer a pledge or promise that reduces the fear of adoption? A guarantee eliminates objections encountered in the marketing and sales process.
There is a good chance that your marketing and sales functions are not working in unison and the above should give you some things to consider making them more aligned.
Sales Training and Sales Coaching: Like sales cultures, sales training and coaching comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. If your sales team is like many, you have a gamut of experience from veterans with more than 25 years experience, seasoned personnel with 10 to 15 years experience and newer sales folks with less than seven years experience.
Below are a few considerations to help you make the best choice when it comes to deploying sales training in your company:
- Internal or External Resources: Many types of skill-based training can be taught by internal subject matter experts. However rarely does an internal sales trainer have as much credibility as an external sales trainer who has “seen it all.”
- Transactional or Relationship Sale: Make sure your sales training partner has expertise in the type of sales process used by your sales team to sell your product or service. Without philosophical alignment with your sales type, the sales training won’t resonate with your sales team.
- Assess Training Needs: To ensure your investment of time and financial resources is maximized, you can use a variety of means to accurately assess the sales training needs of your team. Focus groups, surveys, and one-on-one interviews with sales managers and sales personnel and reviewing prior activity and production reports will give you a good understanding of the training priorities of your sales team. This is the basis for the customization of your sales training.
- Delivery Process: Studies show that training that is focused both on content and duration is more easily internalized and utilized than training that spans one or more days. Remember the mind can only absorb what the butt can endure. Training that occurs in a cadence such as monthly webinars followed by group coaching calls enables teams to immediately “apply” what they’ve learned while sharing best practices as they proceed through the training.
- Sales Manager Engagement: This above every other factor discussed is the single biggest predictor of your ROI from sales training. Optimally, every sales manager would participate in the sales training as well as demonstrate usage of the tools and strategies presented in the training. This also leads to much more effective coaching and behavior reinforcement when sales managers know, understand, and utilize the content presented.
- Accountability: There is extraordinarily little application ─ let alone sustained sales improvement without accountability. If sales managers don’t properly set expectations concerning usage of the processes and tools provided, sales personnel will revert to their old habits of behavior within a week. A portion of weekly sales meetings should be dedicated to learning, sharing success stories and best practices.
In conclusion, improving your sales culture is simple, but not easy. Many factors serve as levers to drive sales behaviors and ultimately sales results. Too often, these variables are evaluated in a vacuum rather than holistically. The more aligned each of these variables, the more effective your sales organization becomes. If you start with a clear understanding of the type of sales and customer experience your company is trying to create and work backward, that process will lead you to see clear disconnects in your sales operation.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me at 760-720-9270.
Have a great rest of your week,