“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” –Benjamin Franklin
Few companies create a sales strategy for their reps to follow for prospecting. Instead, you’ll find silos of information and detailed product knowledge, combined with irrelevant (and at times in my experience) and outdated sales collateral from the marketing department. With the absence of a workable atmosphere, it’s little wonder that salespeople are just winging it.
Think about it this way-would you want your roofer to just wing it? Or your doctor? Or your lawyer? I didn’t think so. So why is sales any different? I believe it’s because there is no clearly defined structure in place for them to operate. Outside of achieving or surpassing quota, there are little expectations. Additionally, a standard sales process is almost always non-existent.
Sales and Customer Experience
Every salesperson does things a bit differently and that leads to potential issues when they transition into new roles or leave the company. Want to see what I mean? Take out a sheet of paper and jot down the steps in your sales process. If you were to look at those steps, how helpful would it be for someone new starting out in a sales career? Did you list any specifics on how to sell? Now think: if I gave this list to two people, how similar would their sales efforts be based on this list?
Herein lies the reason salespeople wing it; the sales process isn’t specific enough to be fully successful. Often times salespeople are out doing marketing’s job of generating leads and explaining the unique offering of your business. Which generally aren’t a part of their job descriptions nor leaning into their strong-suits.
But what about natural-born salespeople? Here’s the deal: even the most charismatic and naturally customer-centric salesperson needs the support of sales-ready messaging that helps them perform at the top of their sales game. Even with talented salespeople, only a small portion can coherently and consistently message to the specific person they are talking to.
Customer-centric salespeople ask questions and aim to understand who they are prospecting. Once they understand the needs, they can hone in on the parts of their offering that will suit the client. These salespeople can give an idea of what leads are a fit and what will close.
However, most salespeople aren’t in this group and they need structured sales-ready messaging support from marketing from the first touch and beyond. They need the extra operational support to help them reduce the urge to wing it and waste your time with unqualified leads and pipe dreams that will hardly ever close.
So what’s the main difference between customer-centric sellers and traditional salespeople? Patience. Customer-centric sellers will take the time to find the right fits and will tell people when they aren’t a fit now. A traditional seller, on the other hand, will launch into telling prospects what they need style product pitches. This ‘spray and pray’ sales approach is a sales killer!
Here are 4 tips to stop winging your sales:
Come up with customer profile and stories of why those people did business with you.
What were their pain points? What goals did they have? Practice these as part of your sales training so salespeople can see who’s a good lead and who may not be. These stories can help them to build rapport and dive in deeper with prospects when they might not be able to do so otherwise.
Practice good, open-ended questions!
Now, when first starting out a salesperson may need to have these in front of them and that’s okay. Practice makes permanent. I’d recommend printing the list of questions (again based on the person’s job or the
companies industry) and leaving space between for your notes.
It’s also okay if you don’t get through all the questions if the prospect is talking-don’t stop them!
Align sales with marketing.
Success doesn’t just happen; you must take the time (patience remember) to break down what’s working and what’s not.
These two departments need to work together so sales doesn’t get burned out with bogus leads from marketing,
and marketing can use what sales is seeing in real-time to adapt your sales collateral and sales-ready messaging. Instill a monthly check-in between these departments and you’ll start to see a difference in your sales effectiveness.
Multiply the effectiveness of your top salespeople.
When you stop the culture of salespeople winging it, you can start to build a customer-centric focus that improves both sales and marketing efforts. Plus, your salespeople can refocus on customer’s why and help them find the right solution. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Charisma Communications is owned by former saleswoman, Corin Harmon. All too aware of the lack of useful sales collateral, she took to making her own from what she heard on sales calls. Contact our Tampa marketing firm to learn more about our unique customer-centric approach!