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Top 10 Steps Salespeople Can Take to Improve

DaveKurlanToday's post is by Dave Kurlan, founder and CEO of Objective Management Group Inc. and Kurlan & Associates, and author of Mindless Selling and Baseline Selling: How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball.





Baseball players can have some really incredible games, yet there are other days when things just don’t go nearly as well. The players’ timing could be off, their swing can get too long, they may not see the ball clearly, they may move too much, they could drop the back shoulder, they could pull their head off the ball and open their hips or shoulders too quickly, or they could swing too hard. Any one of these things can cause them to hit a weak grounder or pop-up, miss entirely, or just suck – and that’s just the hitting part.

Salespeople can have the same kinds of days.

  • They can sound too tense, serious, or professional.

  • Their timing could be off.

  • They could try too hard.

  • They might be too easily put off.

  • They could be too aggressive.

  • They might ask the wrong question.

  • They might not listen well.

  • They could miss the big opening.

  • They could offend someone.

  • They, too, could just suck.

(And all of that could happen in just the opening phone call!)

The question is, how do we minimize the days when salespeople are ineffective and maximize the days when they are on their game? What would a ballplayer do?

In baseball, players would take lots of batting practice. They watch video; hit off the tee; hit soft toss; hit off a machine; hit against live pitching; practice bunting, hitting to the opposite field, and situational hitting; and more – before and after every game. There’s extra practice between games. That’s what the best baseball players in the world do. They are already elite and working hard to make sure they stay that way. After all, there could be a big contract at stake.

Elite salespeople make up the top 6 percent of the sales population. They practice more than the bottom 74 percent combined! They have sales coaches; push themselves; and prepare for their most difficult sales scenarios by watching videos, role-playing, and reading books, articles, and blogs – a lot.

They are constantly thinking about their opportunities and a valid reason to make a follow-up call, studying their notes, analyzing their competition, strategizing ways to win deals, and they’re role-playing, even if the role play takes place in their own mind. They record their phone calls, listen to how they sound, and identify areas where they could improve. They live in their CRM system. They do the things they dislike first. They don’t allow fear, negative thoughts, or negative people to influence them. They are confident but not overly optimistic. They know that they must question everything they hear. That’s what they do better than anyone else: push back, challenge, question, and question some more – but nicely.

What should you begin doing to improve yourself? Here are the 10 areas for you to consider.

    1. Sales process: Yours should be consistent, effective, milestone-centric, and predictable.

    2. Great tonality: People enjoy talking with you because of how you sound.

  1. Consultative selling: Develop excellent listening and questioning skills.

  2. Qualifying: You know for certain when an opportunity is real.

  3. CRM: You learn how to live in and leverage your CRM application.

  4. Pipeline: It is always stuffed with the right number of opportunities that are the right size.

  5. Persistence: You will make the 10 to 15 attempts to reach the person who is not returning calls or email.

  6. Social selling: You make full use of LinkedIn to leverage your network

  7. Closing: When you have an opportunity to close, you close.

  8. Trusted advisor: Prospects and customers alike view you, not as a vendor, supplier, salesperson, or option, but as a partner or subject matter expert.

In how many of these areas could you improve? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

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Preston Tate

I agree with all of the pointers. Especially "Tonality" and "Consultative". When working over the phone you can give the customer a good feeling about you and whether you are helpful, sincere and just overall pleasant to work with at that time. People are very smart these days and they do not like to be sold, but they do like to be informed so they can make thier own decision about whether to work with you or your company. Once you have informed them, then you close the sale.

Lori

I think all these tips are great! I would like more information on qualifying or maybe in my business, qualifying is not essential. We sell based on value.. if I qualified everyone.. my pipeline and my resources would be diminished. Our objective is to sell the value, over the cost. Trial value..

Tamora L Williams

I found each tip to be very helpful & will apply it to my business.

GrahamG

Great reminders. I think there's always room for improvement in each of these areas. This is a terrific checklist during those times when things stall or slow down a bit.

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