Expert guest article: Quentin Despas, Sales Coach at MYM
Since Modjo insisted that I tell you, I'm going to give you my biggest secret to getting ahead in B2B sales and boosting your turnover. If you do what I'm about to tell you, I can assure you that you will become a better salesperson.
Becoming better and exceeding your goals is what every salesperson wants, right?
Pay attention to what follows, and the rest of this article, because more than the solution, it is the methods and your ability to apply them in the field that will influence your future success. Since the suspense has become unbearable, I must reveal the secret now: To progress, you have to practice, repeat, sometimes fail, but always and again practice. Disappointed?
Were you expecting a grandmother's recipe? A magic formula, which, if repeated correctly to the prospect, would provoke a sudden desire to buy (if you have it, I don't mind if you share it with me)? I'm sorry, but this is the best answer I can offer. Having tried many, many of them, I can assure you that it is the best one to improve your results. Everyone knows this. To progress, you have to practice, repeat, sometimes fail, but always and always practice. This is the only secret to apply
However, if the concept is obvious to everyone when it comes to sports performance, it is sometimes difficult to assimilate when it comes to sales performance. I'm obviously talking about the results of business developers, account managers, account executives, in short salespeople! (Let's call a spade a spade, there's nothing pejorative about that word. Meow!). Even though it is easy to understand the importance of training and practice when you are a salesperson, we can see in the field that this "evidence" is in fact very rarely put into practice. And salespeople go from meeting to meeting, without ever really training between each one to progress.
It is therefore precisely on this point that we must make progress. Knowing how to put in place strategies that "get it done" is the key. The comparison is easy, however: imagine an athlete going from competition to competition without training between each one and hoping to obtain better results each time. Aberrant! If in sport, we have never seen an athlete win a race without training, why should the best salespeople escape the rule? Yet, in many companies, we still see salespeople training very little (if at all).
Why? What needs to be done? How can we get salespeople to train to progress?
If we use the metaphor of sportsmen and women, we realise that they have infrastructures, exercises and coaches that make the notion of training clear and concrete. Salespeople rarely have this. If you look at the traditional "job description" of a salesperson, you will clearly see that their job consists of winning business, "bringing in turnover", but few companies indicate: "Continuous training", "training every week", "perfecting your communication", "becoming more competent in our clients' business"...
In other words, our beloved athletes are asked to win races, but they are not asked to train for it. When they do, how should they do it? What infrastructure is provided for them to train in? Questions that often remain unanswered.
If you look closely, the only opportunities salespeople have to train are on real cases, on deals. High stakes, stressful moments, where mistakes result in a loss of business for the company. A pity.
Here are 6 keys to help you:
Where are your sales people's training slots in their diaries? What is their training hygiene, their progress? How much time do they have to devote to improving their skills each week?
As you can see, the first step to progress is to integrate this into the daily life of salespeople. They must understand that training is part of their job, part of their responsibilities.
This is included in the famous "job description" (if you don't have one, think about it), it is a subject discussed during the points between the salesperson and his/her manager, it is discussed in sales meetings...
In short, training, coaching, and skill building in general must be fully anchored in the team's habits to make it a reflex, or rather, a mission. It is part of their job as salespeople
It's good to want to make progress, but on what? What is possible? Where do you start? Are you clear about the skills you need to develop to be an excellent salesperson?
Here are some examples that may give you ideas:
The examples above are not exhaustive and you can develop themes specific to your sector of activity. Nevertheless, some topics are essential, transversal to any type of sales and any type of company. (e.g. business / customer / product / industry / competitor knowledge)
This is a pity when we know that trust is a determining factor in sales, and that prospects find it difficult to trust someone who is "not in the business" or who has not made the effort to understand it and take an in-depth interest. In short, someone who is not always relevant.
Putting words to skills makes it possible to become aware of the need to practise, but it also makes it possible to organise one's own skills development.
We form a map of the territories to be explored. You can see at a glance the path to be taken. This sets a goal and makes it tangible what you can progress on.
Create your own list of the ideal salesperson's skills!
Now that I understand that I need to work on my "needs analysis", or "personal presentation" and I have dedicated time to do so, how do I do it? How can I become better at it?
If you don't provide your salespeople with concrete exercises, they will know that they need to improve, but they won't know how to do it. Frustrating! At best they will practice on their own, but this creates unnecessary barriers to entry, friction points for training. You want to do the opposite!
Some examples of exercises:
To ensure that these exercises are really beneficial to your teams, try to use real cases that they may have encountered during customer meetings. Sales analysis is key to understanding and targeting the areas you need to work on with your team. The more material you have, the more relevant and effective exercises you can create.
On exercises, the only limit is your imagination. You need to create exercises that are fun, striking, useful and ready to use for the salespeople. Otherwise, they will not want to do the exercise and you risk a fiasco! Create just one or two to start with and see how they react. You will adapt (and can involve them in the creation later)
How can you set up a way to see your progress and that of the team? Before and after videos? MCQ scores? Evaluation criteria? A number of criteria met in a simulation?
You need to keep track of each training session, each performance, so that you can compare them with previous and subsequent ones. This way you will have material to determine the progression of the commercials.
Salespeople themselves need to "see" themselves progressing, it is more motivating and seeing the result encourages them to continue the training process. A simple way to do this is to record your calls and listen to them again to see your progress. You can also ask your colleagues to accompany you by offering to listen to your calls again and give you feedback afterwards.
Of course, the best measurement tool is the generated AC.
From time to time, hold practice sessions that cover the full range of salespeople's skills (randomly) to see where everyone is at and get an overall assessment. This also allows you to recreate a stressful moment, a big oral. It is similar to what will be experienced in a meeting, but without the stakes that go with it (risk of sale/not sale).
These tests push the salespeople to be ready, and create the "quiz" effect, which it is good to use from time to time to REALLY know where you and your salespeople stand.
All this only makes sense for real sales. It is therefore on the ground, in front of the customers, that you must go to finish the job and appreciate the results.
Good salespeople don't sell every time, but when they don't, they know why and have no regrets about the way they handled the relationship.
He knows that he has respected the fundamentals because he knows them (knowledge) and knows how to implement them (competence).
In the field, the salesperson must concentrate on applying what he or she has trained for, meeting after meeting.
The best way to do this is to choose, before the meeting, the part on which you will focus your attention. Also, an outside eye will be useful for his progress. Don't hesitate to organise two-person meetings where one of the two salespeople will be in charge of observing the situation, taking notes and offering constructive and benevolent feedback to the other.
It is by transforming on the field what has been done in training that we create the result. So you have to take the plunge...but only after you have done the exercise many times, in a safe environment, where mistakes have no impact on the results, are you ready and confident to do the same thing on the big day.
You have the keys to set up an effective training logic in your team and make sure that they progress commercially. Be sure you know what you expect from your team (or from yourself if you are a salesperson), what you need to master in order to have the "right" level. Set the standards, rules and methods for each of your themes, and give your salespeople a concrete, practical and fun way to practice them because "knowing" (training) is good, but it is useless in sales. You need "know-how" (training/simulation), but above all "doing" (application with customers) to create results and significantly increase your sales.
It's up to you,