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Skilled Team Players Win – Part 2

 

In part one of our blog we explored Estadia’s top 5 benefits of implementing an ongoing programme of training for your sales team.  These benefits were clear, demonstrating the need for such a plan.

Much like any other investment however, a strategic approach is necessary to ensure it can be delivered well. Introducing new processes can affect the operational aspects of the workplace and your sales team will need to know what to expect so a clear structure to the training programme is essential.

Whether you are utilising an in-house training team or outsourcing your training to an external provider, you should first make the time to consider the following areas:

Where does the greatest need lie?

Time to think about each stage of the sales process.  Where are the weaknesses?  Perhaps your CRM is in a mess? Are your customers leaving you for your competition? Maybe your telesales team is having difficulty in setting appointments for the field sales team?  Or, are the field sales team having trouble closing the sale at their appointments?

Prioritise your needs and assess which must be addressed first. Be aware of any stages of the sales process that cross over and are handled by multiple job roles to see that everyone has an opportunity to develop and improve their performance in that area.

What skills are needed?

Listen to your sales team and find out what skills they want to improve upon. Learn about their aspirations for progressing in your industry and identify the training needed to get them there so that you have the best talent in your industry, engaged and loyal to your business.

Skills can quickly become stale though so refresher training is always a good way to prevent inactivity and prevent bad practise.  Your industry will be subject to constant changes, due to things like advancement in technology and customer preference and you don’t want your team to be left behind in the marketplace.

How do you manage the time for training?

Striking the balance between an ongoing training programme and keeping on top of daily business is critical to the success of both. You want to ensure your team doesn’t lose interest or fall behind with their work.

If this is something you are unsure about it may be good to consult with a professional trainer for an insider’s experienced opinion on the kind of schedule that works best.

What is the best way to deliver the training?

There are now more ways than ever to effective deliver training to your team, even when they are separated by role or in some cases by location. Training can be delivered one-on-one, in teams or group sessions, in-house or even part of an open course alongside other companies or even self-directed online learning.

Whatever your needs are, there will be a method of training out there that fits around your business.  Most importantly you are not stuck with just one and can build a comprehensive programme, incorporating different delivery methods, if that’s what works best for you.

 

Skilled Teams Win – Part One

When you’re trying to grow and develop your business into further success where do you start? If your sales team are the beating heart of your business, then it only makes sense to take care of them, nurturing the skills they possess and directing their improvement to ensure continual growth.  The key to delivering this is to implement a programme of regular training and development.

Many businesses don’t allocate the time or make the financial investment into this critical area of employee care, often prioritising other aspects of the business.  However, it is well worth the venture because investment in skills within the workplace – especially in the sales team – will certainly improve your company’s bottom line, enabling you to see your return on investment within your balance sheet.

In part one of this blog, we will look at Estadia’s top 5 benefits of implementing a programme of ongoing training for your sales team. In part two, we will explore the things you may want to consider before putting such a plan into place.

The Benefits:

You will easily be able to identify skills gaps and remedy them
When an employer is focused on the development needs of their staff they will be able to react quickly to changes within the industry, equipping their sales team with new skills to sell their product effectively within a changing marketplace.  This approach enables their team to stand out amongst the competition and be recognised as a leader in their field.

You will increase job satisfaction levels
Salespeople are most motivated and productive when they have great job satisfaction.  Sending out champions for your product or service means their sales pitch will not only be enthusiastic but most importantly sincere, which is critical to building relationships with new and existing clients. Trained staff feel valued and appreciated by their employer and that reflects in their ability to sell more.

You will attract new talent
A company that invests in its employees and cultivates an atmosphere of high lob satisfaction will no doubt build a positive reputation as an ideal employer within its industry.  With this reputation, it will attract the top talent which will be a valuable resource as the business continues to grow further and additional roles need to be filled.

It will help you save and earn money
A team of happy and motivated salespeople has a direct effect upon the huge costs of hiring new staff and reduces the chances of losing your best team members to other employers. Also, a trained team will be able to work with more efficiency and proficiency, saving the business even more money in the long run.

It ensures you are always looking to the future

If implementing a program of training is an ongoing process, then there will always be the need to look to the future to anticipate in which direction the training will be taken next.  What needs to be considered?

  • What kind of leadership is required?
  • What will customers need from us?
  • What industry changes could be expected?

The sales team plays a crucial role in answers each of these questions so it makes good sense to invest in their development, ensuring their ability to perform at the highest level. In addition, you will need to consider your plan for training and development as there are differing factors that can shape your approach.  The training delivered last year might not work this year, due perhaps to a changing marketplace or the size of your business. Staying ahead of the curve and eliminating complacency will keep the business on its toes – and that’s a good thing.

 

Inside the Salesperson’s Toolkit – Infographic

Seven Deadly Sins of Selling – Infographic

“Don’t call me a Salesperson” – Sales Tips for Small Business Owners

Small business owners are simply the biggest multi-taskers you will ever find.  Taking responsibility for a number of roles within their business in its early stages, keeping abreast of the many tasks required to manage, grow and develop it towards success, it’s not always easy.  For those who consider themselves a little more introverted, not all roles come naturally and they may find themselves reluctant at the idea of stepping in to the shoes of the ‘Sales Executive’.  Thankfully, the days of pushy salesmen are long gone and there are several ways even the least likely sales professional can carve out a place for his or her company in the marketplace.

Invest in lead generation resources – Create a sales strategy for filling your sales pipeline and identify as many ways to fill it as possible.  Start with making sure your data is fresh and complete.  Email campaigns are a great way to engage in regular communication with prospects and measure their interaction.  Perhaps cold-calling isn’t your strong suit, however it is one of the most effective ways to develop that sales pipeline. You could undertake some telemarketing training to give you the skills and confidence needed to make the leap or, why not outsource this area of work to an outside provider?

Make the most of online contacts – Establish contacts across a number of online platforms to introduce your business.  From LinkedIn to business forums, Facebook and Twitter, many of these social media sites host online networking at specific times, targeting business sectors and locations that are filled with the kind of connections you are looking to develop.

Experience a more relaxed kind of meeting – If face-to-face meetings leave you feeling anxious why not utilise opportunities to meet with other businesses in a more relaxed environment?  Research local networking events and visit to make the most of the chance to introduce yourself and talk about what you’re doing.  You’ll be surprised at how many other multi-taskers you will get to know.  Also, why not visit at local and regional business shows? As a visitor, not only will you have the opportunity walk the floor and speak to a number of exhibitors, you will also have the opportunity to attend seminars where you can pick up valuable advice for developing your business further.

Commit to social corporate responsibility – Align yourself with at least one charity, fundraiser or community project that means something to you. Not all help has to be financial, donating time and promotional support to a meaningful cause will positively impact upon both parties and is a great way to raise your profile.

Build a strategy for the tasks you simply hate – Whatever your least favourite task is, create a plan to force you to tackle it head on, step-by-step.  They key is consistency so make sure to engage in these things regularly and they will soon become less intimidating.  For instance, if it’s cold-calling, start with a 30 minute session in the morning and then another in the afternoon.  Reward yourself for taking on the tough challenges and succeeding.

Estadia has worked closely with business owners to help them develop strategies for business growth and development for over ten years. If you’re a business owner stretching themselves to cover a number of roles, their FREE one-hour sales strategy session could be the way to kick-start a plan to make managing your time and operations much easier. Call the Estadia on freephone 0800 840 1185 to enquire today or email us at richardpalmer@estadia.co.uk

Inside The Professional Salesperson’s Toolkit

Just as a construction worker builds structures a salesperson builds business growth.  Both professionals require essential tools to perform at the highest level, but it’s not always the most obvious thing, to think of a salesperson needing ‘tools’ for the job.  Perhaps a better way to consider it, is as a ‘pool of resources’. Either way, if you want to be successful in sales, make the most of these valuable sales tools:

The Telephone – Surely the most obvious tool in the box but unsurprisingly, many salespeople give cold calling a wide berth.  The truth is, it’s still an effective way to get new business, so brush up on your telemarketing skills and establish a strategy for connecting with new prospects over the phone. Remember, closing the sale on the first call is unlikely, it’s really about introducing yourself, finding out about their business and beginning a relationship.

A Strategy for Building a Pipeline – The only way to evaluate sales success is to start with a strategy for doing business.  Erratic bursts of sales activity, with no true path or focus will only lead to frustration. Implement a strategy that allows you to continually top up your sales pipeline, giving you plenty of potential to work with.

Planning and Research – If your prospect feels you understand their position, they will be far more likely to do business with you. Going out of the way to find out more about target prospects, industries and competition will arm you with the information you need to present your product or service as the solution they are looking for.

 Social Media – But that’s for the marketing department! Yes, but sales and marketing have to work together.  Support your business’ social media posts by sharing helpful, relevant posts that will connect with your customers and prospects.  Also, be sure to interact with the social media posts of those you want to do business with to establish positive connections.

Education – Just as measurement of sales activity is vital to hitting and exceeding targets, measurement of your own professional development is required to ensure you’re performing at your best.  Training and development plans for sales people at all levels enable access to new skills and opportunities to prevent established sales techniques from becoming tired and ineffective.

A listening attitude – Listening is learning. When you’re listening to your colleagues you’re learning about their experiences and using that to develop your own skills.  When you’re listening to your prospect you’re gaining insight into their place in the market and their unique business needs.  Make a point of listening to understand by asking questions, because when you simply listen to respond you turn the focus of the conversation away from the valuable things that you can learn from.

A good contact network Go out of your way to make connections with professionals across a variety of businesses.  LinkedIn and networking events are perfect for this.  Establishing yourself as someone able to refer businesses to one another, outside of your own business interests, encourages positive, trusted relationships with both prospects and existing customers.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Selling

Have you ever met the perfect salesperson? With only about one third of sales professionals hitting or exceeding targets they’re not always easy to find. So what’s stopping the rest from performing? Sadly it’s often the smallest mistakes that have the greatest effect.  Think you’ve got what it takes to be a Sales Angel? Take a look at our seven deadly sales sins to see where you could make the small changes needed to redeem yourself…

Not following up – If sales is all about building relationships then surely it goes without saying that failure to follow up on any kind of communication is essential to keeping the conversation going.  It’s really no different to social relationships.  If that person you just met suddenly stopped communicating with you, you’d just figure they weren’t interested any longer and that would be the end of that.  Relationships are built upon a series of consistent and positive interactions, so be sure to stay in touch.

Talking more than listening – If you want your prospect to feel you truly care about their needs, you have to take the time to listen.  This is where active listening skills really come into play. If you’re the one doing all the talking, your prospect may start to feel pressured into buying.  If they also think you have little understanding of their position, they’re going to be immediately turned off and you may find yourself with more than a few objections to deal with.

Asking closed questions – Information is the key to closing a sale. How do you present your product or service as a solution to the prospect’s problem?  Be sure to ask open questions, that elicit longer, more detailed answers. By learning as much as you can about their current situation and demonstrating how it will fit seamlessly into their operations, delivering exactly the kind of solution they want.

Listening to respond, rather than listening to understand – If you’re listening to what your prospect is saying but thinking about your response, then you’re just making the conversation all about what you have to say.  ‘Listening to understand’ is a much more beneficial method of communication, focusing on what the customer is saying and usually trying to understand it more fully by asking another question.

Attempting to sell everything, not just what the customer needs – Even if you have listened carefully and have an understanding of your prospect’s needs, rushing to sell everything possible will demonstrate a failure to connect with them and likely break the trust you’ve tried to build. Carefully matching their needs to the strongest parts of your product or service will make them feel like they are buying in to a tailor-made solution.

Selling features, not benefits or effects – Your prospect is seeking the end result, so match your focus to theirs.  Help them see the solution your product or service will provide by explaining how they will benefit.  Features are great but your prospect will have little interest in learning about them if they’re not first assured of the resolution they will bring.

Failing to ask for the business – If you don’t learn to become attuned to the progression of your prospect conversation, it’s guaranteed that you will miss out on opportunities to ask for the business and close the sale. It’s a classic mistake, made by those who don’t want to seen as the ‘pushy salesperson’.  But it’s not about being pushy, it’s about employing the right kinds of questioning and listening skills to build rapport and with these, you will be able to identify those opportunities and make the most of them.

Estadia’s Managing Director Richard recently asked his LinkedIn network what they considered to be selling ‘sins’. Take a look at what they had to say here.

 

 

6 Key Skills Found in Successful Salespeople

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in a sales career for 15 years or 15 minutes, all salespeople want to be successful salespeople. No matter where you are in your career, it is important to take the time to assess your skills and consider: “Where can I grow more?”.  Estadia’s sales experts are always looking at what it is that makes a salesperson successful, identifying the core skills they possess.  Take a look at our list and see how many you have…

Questioning Skills

To open a full and informative dialogue between you and your prospect you will need to know the right kinds of questions to ask. Closed questions very often receive very short, factual answers. To be a successful salesperson you need more than just the facts.  You need to know how your prospect feels about the challenges they face.  When you know how to use open questions, that elicit longer, more detailed answers, you are best placed to present your product or service as the solution they are looking for.

Listening Skills

An active listener is fully participated in the conversation, deliberately taking in information and being sure to make it clear that they comprehend the nature of what is being conveyed.  This enables you to understand, not just to respond to your prospect. Every interaction with your prospect should result in them feeling valued and understood, this will build trust and give them confidence to buy from you.

Understanding that customers buy benefits, not features

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

Theodore Levitt, Harvard University Professor.

Your prospect isn’t really looking for your product, they’re looking for the result your product will bring. Not only do you need to know every aspect of your product or service, you also need to know how it will impact and improve their situation,

Presenting your product to demonstrate those benefits

Knowing how your product or service will deliver the solution your prospect is looking for, is key to confidently presenting it in the most relevant way.  Having the communication and presentation skills to paint a positive picture for the future will direct to them working with you.

Objection handling

Successful salespeople are aware that how they handle objections can be make or break when trying to close the sale.  Applying listening skills and demonstrating your understanding to the prospect lets them know that you recognise their needs. Being able to overcome their concerns and present solutions will develop the right kind of trusted business relationship that stands the test of time.

Closing – Asking for the business

Sometimes there will be clearly defined moments in the sales process where asking for the order is appropriate and often successful.  Having the skills to be able to identify these opportunities and having the confidence to act upon them can bring success.

Estadia’s Essential Sales Skills course explores each of these areas, giving you the knowledge, confidence and ability to deliver across them all.  Whether learning for the first time or simply refreshing and enhancing the skills you already have, this one day course is the perfect place to start a learning and development journey.  Learn more about the course content and find dates and locations suitable for you here.

Losing Control of Your Sales Team & How it Impacts Your Leadership

Without proper measures in place, it’s not difficult to lose sight of how your sales team is performing.  The effects of this can be damaging, reaching across different areas of your business.  In this week’s blog we look at just some of the problems a struggling Sales Leader might encounter in this situation:

Inconsistent Activity – Whether you have small sales team to manage or a large one, it is vital to have a clear overview of operations. A sales strategy that includes planned activity to monitor and assess progress is the only way that you can be sure each member of your sales team is operating at their best, maximising every opportunity to create and secure new business.

Lack of Knowledge – Only by knowing the behaviours and activity of each salesperson will you have clear knowledge about what makes each individual a valued member of your sales team. This knowledge will also identify those who are not performing, and this is important due to its direct negative impact on the performance of the team overall. Personal learning and development plans for each member of your team are key to understanding their needs and finding ways to bring out the best in them.

Stress and Anxiety – Worrying about hitting targets is bad enough but if you don’t have a clear picture of what your team is achieving and exactly how they are operating, the stress can be overwhelming.  The key to overcoming this kind of worry is knowledge.  If you are in control of your team’s activity you can begin to take positive steps towards hitting and exceeding targets.

Disillusioned Team Members –  In addition to the stress you might feel as a Sales Leader, if you’re not taking control, individuals within the team will undoubtedly begin to feel disheartened with their experience.  Particularly in situations where individuals are working alone in different geographical locations. These feelings will produce negativity which will have a knock-on effect on targets, employee turnover and even customer relationships.

Unhappy Customers – Your customers need to have every confidence in your ability to deliver your product or service to the highest standard.  They will have high expectations when it comes to how well you look after them and how consistently you perform. Without control of your sales team, how can you be certain that customers won’t start looking for an alternative supplier?

Sales Leadership is one of the most crucial roles in any growing company and the responsibility of managing a sales team is a serious business.  Estadia’s Sales Experts have the knowledge and experience to help you develop sales leadership skills that build you a winning sales team, either at your workplace or in one of our open courses, across the UK. Our Effective Sales Management course will help you take back control of your sales team and avoid problems just like these.

Call us on 08451 222963 to speak to one of our agents today or visit the Estadia Sales Training page.