Let me start with a small-t truth that many sales managers don’t seem to understand or aren’t prepared to admit. The reality is, there is not that much new that can be taught to salespeople when it comes to selling skills.
The days of teaching sales techniques that were cleverly manipulative are long gone. Catch cries like “Always Be Closing” and “Close early, close often, close hard” and “if the buyer says or does this, the salesperson says or does this” ought to be now wiped from the psyche of sales managers and their sales teams.
And just as an aside, any sales manager who thinks that sending their sales team along to some self-acclaimed sales guru who has made millions from shonky deals that cost the life savings of many clients from I don’t know… let’s say from Wall Street, ought to take a good look at themselves and ask the question, “What would their clients think?”
Selling is a fairly basic process. It’s about building rapport, asking questions, showing value, identifying obstacles, confirming appropriate next steps for the buyer and staying in touch to ensure what has been promised has been delivered. When confident and competent salespeople who have expert product knowledge are able to ‘be themselves’ and follow an ethical buyer-focused sales process, one that is aligned with the way buyers want to buy, the sales and buying experience ought to be positive for both salesperson and the buyer. That doesn’t mean the salesperson will always make a sale, but it does mean that the sales and buying process ought always be a mutually positive experience.
Here’s another small-t truth… if as a sales manager, you feel that your sales people need to be taught ‘body language’ and ‘neuro-linguistic programming, or ‘emotional intelligence’, you might like to have a look at your recruitment criteria for salespeople – they’re going to be dealing with people, so ‘people skills’ ought to be what is natural to them… not what they need to learn so that they can fake it till they make it!
In a world of increased competition, where product and service parity abounds, and salespeople across most industries find it continually more difficult to differentiate, now, perhaps more than ever, is the time for sales managers to step up and become Intentional Sales Leaders.
Intentional sales leaders differ from the struggling traditional sales manager in the following ways:
The role of today’s sales manager is certainly not for the feint hearted, but for those who take on the sales leadership role with a clarity of intention, where salespeople experience consistency in sales process, on-going coaching and development delivered readily and easily by the sales leader and not consistently outsourced to the next trend-based techniques, will develop a successful sales culture where the sales leader and sales team (and their clients) will be proud of.
If you’re a sales manager looking for a cost-effective way to personally train, coach and develop all of your salespeople, check out this ‘in-house’ sales leader resource centre.
PS… don’t forget, I always welcome your feedback and if you’d like to have me present at your next conference on sales, customer service, leadership or success and how intentional trust can make all the difference, or if you’d like to explore how we can work together to boost your team’s success, call me at my Sydney office on 02 9546 2492.