Here’s the situation. You’ve been a sales manager for a couple of months. Fortunately, your sales team is local so you have had a chance to work with each of the 6 reps at least three times. What you’ve found out is that each one of these sales reps sells in a completely different way. Two of the reps are more senior but they have a tendency to spew too many features and benefits.
Three of the reps are OK listeners but they overlook the prospect’s styles. They also tend to stay away from objections, especially when they deal with budget issues. The final rep is new to sales but she has a strong affinity for prospecting. However she does not have much of a “presence” in front of the prospect.
There are a couple of issues here. Salespeople have their own selling styles and there is nothing wrong with that. I’ve managed reps who build strong relationships and the trust they build with prospects leads to sales. I’ve seen other reps who are more direct in the sales process and they close business. If you are in sales management for the long haul then you are going to manage a wide variety of sales people during your career. In essence, they all bring a little something different to sales. The question is how to coach different sales people who have different skills, styles, different strengths and different weaknesses?
The quickest way for me to bring this into perspective is to use a golf example. Let’s say that you’re a golf pro. You look at your schedule for the day and you have 6 amateur golfers coming to you for instruction. You know that each of them will bring different swings. So how are you going to coach 6 people with different swings? You’re going to teach each of these people the same techniques that all great golfers use in their swings. Arnold Palmer’s swing is different than Tiger Woods’ swing but they both use similar techniques that influence how they hit the ball. There is no difference between this and having 6 salespeople to coach on the fundamentals of sales.
In my opinion there is only one answer to this question. As a sales manager you need to create a “common sales language” that every one of your salespeople will use. This translates into a sales process that each of your salespeople will follow when they are on a sales call. The common sales language does not:
- Interfere with a rep’s selling style.
- Inhibit a rep from using their personality.
- Program them like robots.
- Get in the way of listening, discussing features/benefits, closing or qualifying.
- Intimidate prospects.
- Take the fun out of selling.
If every rep uses the same process then:
- The process is the basis for the sales call not an individual rep’s bizarre approach to opening a call or closing.
- Sales call success or lack of success is determined by how they execute the techniques not by their individual approach to selling.
- The sales manager’s coaching is easier because they use specific sales techniques that are part of the common sales language. The same techniques are used to coach 6 different sales people.
- Sales meetings move more quickly because the reps can explain why business has closed or not closed based on the same techniques every one knows.
So the next question is what training do I use? We’ll get there but not now. I hate to do that but there is way too much information to include in just one post. We’ll cover the rest of the information on Wednesday the 30th.
The Final Thought: For a spring training drill Yogi instructed his players to “pair off in threes”. Yogi Berra. Manager for the New York Yankees and New York Mets.