As a sales leader in your organization, one of the most critical functions you perform is to help young producers learn and refine their sales skills. And, yes, selling is a skill, not a personality trait.
Sure, there is a lot to be said for how personality influences a person’s ability to sell, but personality alone is just a start. It’s like most other things — you may be born with the potential, but to realize that potential takes a lot of hard work and practice.
So, as that sales leader, it’s critical for you to understand how to help your team realize their potential and become the most effective salesperson their potential allows.
There are four critical steps:
An effective sales process is one that can be replicated. I don’t mean that it is cookie cutter, but it does need to be one in which there are clearly identified steps. Take the time to explain:
- Each step in detail;
- what it is meant to accomplish;
- and (most importantly) WHY it is necessary.
(As you think about your process, if you don’t have clearly defined steps in the process, I encourage you to rethink how you have your people selling.)
As the teacher in this process, it is critical for you to demonstrate for your student how to execute the sales process. This is the first step in moving beyond theory and putting the process into practice. And, since no two sales situations are the same, it is important that you show them the process in various settings. Show them in the safe environment of the office and then show them how it works in front of a prospect.
Now it’s their turn. You watching them practice is the only way you will be able to offer them the constructive criticism that is necessary for them to get it right. It is important that they are allowed the time to build their confidence. Watch them execute in the safety of the office, but also go along to watch them perform in front of a real prospect. Not only will it allow for that constructive criticism afterwards, they will be more confident for having you along.
Follow the first three steps and you will know for sure when they are ready to go out and perform on their own. However, to truly stay sharp, you need to take them back to the previous steps from time to time. Going through this process with experienced producers offers a few important opportunities:
- Make sure that bad habits don’t slip in
- Start introducing additional sales skills
- Continue refining them into more and more effective salespeople
As you read this, I hope that it all seems obvious. All too often the middle two steps are skipped because we think of an ability to sell as more of a personality trait than a skill set. Therefore, we simply tell them what to do, and then send them out in the field to perform.
To be able to follow this formula, two things have to happen:
- You have to develop a well-defined and repeatable sales process.
- As the sales leader, you have to develop the skill yourself to effectively execute the middle two steps.
There’s an old saying that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. If you’re skipping the two middle steps, this likely describes you. Commit to all four steps and you become one of the most valuable resources in your organization.
Trokey is president and chief executive of St. Louis-based Benefits Growth Network, a consulting firm for benefits agencies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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