The economic ecosystem is getting more and more competitive – gone are the days when one advertisement or a sales call could convince people to open their wallets. Digital marketplaces and the Internet have made things super tough for traditional sales teams; giving rise to a new type of customer who is extremely knowledgeable and well-researched – they already know what they want and turn to friends and people they know and trust (like influencers) to pick their products or services.
While the B2C market must emphasise customer engagement as a sales methodology, the B2B sales processes still work largely on the traditional sales model of prospecting, convincing, and closing a deal. In this scenario, a strong sales team can greatly influence people’s decision-making. Hence, enhancing your team’s sales skills can have a direct result in your business’s profitability.
Naturally, when you hire someone for a sales job, you consider their past experience and personality during the interview. But this doesn’t mean they will be able to sell to YOUR TARGET COMPANY or will get a deep understanding of YOUR INDUSTRY overnight. Their past experience might not translate to your job profile on day one.
To make sure your sales team has the product/service or brand knowledge to represent your company convincingly to prospective clients, it is best to equip them with in-house training. This could be product knowledge, pricing, or a presentation as well as information on current clients, sales scenarios, and questions that generally come up during the sales process.
A sales team is made up of people with different levels of skills – while one person might be great at negotiating and closing, another might be better at making presentations and pitching to new clients. Sales training is a good way to ensure everyone gets the chance to enhance their skills and learn new ones.
Here are some selling skills and tools that can help salespersons reinforce customer interactions and surpass their sales goals.
By far, the biggest and most important skill needed to succeed in the sales ecosystem is communication. A sales training programme concentrates on providing holistic communication skill enhancement, this includes –
Conversation – whether you are talking on the phone or speaking to a client face-to-face, communication skills can make or break your deal. From the introduction to sentence formation to listening actively to nonverbal communication – a conversation has many parts that must come together at the speed of thought to be convincing.
Sales training tackles many of the Dos and Don’ts of usual sales scenarios and offers tips on how to improve verbal and nonverbal communication.
Business writing – apart from conversation, a salesperson also engages a lot through email and sometimes through phone text messages. Sales training usually covers the writing communication style, as well.
Presentations and pitching – no business meeting is complete without a presentation! In fact, they are usually the initial, go-to document for all sales pitching sessions and are widely circulated via email as well. Sales training also teaches the art of building a logical and good-looking presentation AND teaches salespersons how to present it confidently and clearly.
Negotiation – not every sales situation requires a negotiation, but there are many that require some sort of compromise to close the deal. Most sales training programmes spend a fair bit of time on teaching participants how to communicate in a way that avoids conflict and ensure both parties feel they have got a fair deal.
Like everything else in the business world, sales also follows a process. It might seem like a lot of is based on personal rapport, but in reality, salespersons must adhere to a template or process to keep their sales effort moving in the right direction.
Sales training acquaints participants with the various stages of a sales process in relation to their organisational product, target, or goal.
For example – the usual 7 stage sales process includes research, prospecting, needs assessment, pitching, objection handling, closing the deal, and follow-up. A salesperson can learn best practices, new technology, and methodology from tailored sales training that might not be a part of his/her previous experience.
Salespersons hear NO a lot! They also regularly live in high-pressure work situations where meeting targets are put on a pedestal. Not everyone can function effectively in such an intense environment.
A vital part of sales training is also helping participants develop a mindset that gives them stability in the long run.
Your sales team is the final step of the entire sales process – they not only close the deal but also represent your company to potential clients. As competition heats up, their role becomes even more critical; for an organization, apart from hiring the best talent, the only way to meet growing sales targets is to enhance the skills of the existing team. Because no matter how evolved a person’s communication skills are; there is always room for improvement.
2020 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been! The global pandemic has really challenged us in so many ways and it’s been hard for many of us to feel in control as the crisis just drags on. Our businesses have taken a hit but we know that there are many around us who have been hit even harder.
It’s natural then for many business leaders to feel guilty about the hard decisions they’ve had to take in terms of layoffs, closures and disruptions in service. A client of mine had to let go of a senior employee in the US and he knew this meant that the employee had to go back to his home country and his entire life would get disrupted. He was also worried that the employee would no longer have health cover to take care of the special needs of his child. A friend who is the CHRO of a large organisation was distraught when a young employee passed away due to COVID and he felt he couldn’t do anything to save her.
Guilt is an unsettling emotion to deal with. But it’s also a sign that you’re a conscientious leader. While there are many things that are out of your control, one way of dealing with this guilt when it hits you is to re-evaluate and improve the way you approach your employees and company, and demonstrate compassionate leadership in difficult circumstances.
Here are 5 ways in which you can do this:
If you have a small team, it’s possible for you to do so yourself. If you have a large employees base, put together small cross-functional teams to spread out and listen to the wider group. This will help you plan your initiatives better.
When you have no choice but to implement furloughs, reduced hours, or pay cuts, don’t delegate sharing the news to HR - it feels demoralizing, disrespectful, and lacks empathy. If you are responsible for the decision, it is you who should be sharing it. This sends a clear message to not just the people who are impacted but also the others around them and support the morale of the team.
If some of your decisions have gone wrong and negatively affected others, take remedial action as soon as you know or can and do it as publicly as possible. Acknowledge your mistake and then communicate new developments frequently and consistently. Decisions can go either r way based on the limited information that we operate on – you are not expected to be right all the time. But how you own up and make amends is what your team and customers are looking at.
Try and see what benefits can be retained even when someone goes on a furlough or pay cut. Help the ones who’ve been laid off to find new jobs. Provide career transition support wherever possible.
People respond to that. They connect with you and they trust you when you’re being the best version of you. Talk about how you balance your own personal and work commitments. Talk about your own challenges and encourage sharing of tips and resources for managing workload, scheduling and so on. You don’t have to have a stoic mask all the time. Let people know that you also struggle sometimes and that’s okay. That’s being human.
So, to sum it up, it’s understandable if you as a leader are struggling with guilty feelings as you see the disruptions and struggles that the Covid-19 crisis is causing your employees and colleagues, sometimes specifically as a result of your own actions. But if you reframe your feelings of guilt as an opportunity to consciously and thoughtfully make the best decisions possible, communicate clearly, and behave with compassion and concern for both your employees and yourself, then you can help steer their teams and organizations toward better times.
If you want to talk about this, just click on Request Consultation and pick a convenient time for discussion or send me a WhatsApp message using the button above.
Many times, when I bring up coaching with business leaders and owners, they react by saying that I’m doing well. I don’t think I need a coach.
To my mind, there are two possible reasons for this reaction – one, they are not aware about what real coaching is and its benefits, and two, they are not ready to have a hard look at themselves and see what’s not working. They may be afraid of what they might uncover and are happier just coasting along till they are forced to confront these issues.
I always make an effort to explain what real coaching is and how it’s different from having a mentor or guide or just reading self-help books. I also make it a point to share that coaching is not about solving problems. It is about unblocking the realisation of your potential. You can do and achieve much more than what you are doing currently just by getting out of your own way. A coach helps you get out of your own way and go after those big hairy audacious goals.
Ask yourself this
Having a coach is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of ambition, it’s a sign of hunger for bigger impact, it’s a sign of courage to work on oneself.
Go ahead, tell me you don’t need a coach…
Click on the Request Consultation button above for a discovery call.
To be truly listened to is an amazing experience, partly because it is so rare! When another person is totally with you – leaning in, interested in every word, eager to empathize – you feel seen and understood. When people feel that they are really being listened to, they open up more as they feel safe and secure and the trust between the parties grows.
Unfortunately, most people do not listen at a very deep level as they are preoccupied with the challenges of their fast-paced life. As a result, most conversations tend to skim on the surface.
The absence of real listening is especially prevalent at work. Under pressure to get the job done, we listen for the minimum of what we need to know so that we can move on to the next fire that needs fighting. So, what’s the consequence of this? Everyone is talking, no on is listening. As a result, employee engagement has become a serious issue in organisations today.
This is becoming a bigger problem in this COVID scenario as employees are dispersed and the conversations are very transactional and brief. Leaders seem to have become busier and more distracted in recent times.
How often are you as a leader distracted in a conversation or a meeting with your team? How often are you as a leader not psychologically present when you are virtually with your team? How often do you cancel, interrupt or shorten meetings with your people in favour of some other stakeholder, priority or task? How often do you make your people wait, ask, or even hope for your leadership? Ironically, now more than ever, leaders need to be deeply and continuously connected with their teams.
What your team needs right now is authentic and unequivocal leadership presence. So, turn off the noise in your head. Turn off the noise from your technology. Focus your mind and your time on the people you lead and they, in turn, will follow and support your leadership efforts.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to take the time to connect, to show that you care about your employees as people. Listening deeply will also help you understand what their challenges and expectations, and gives you a chance to share what your intentions and goals in a way that everyone can be aligned.
Listening is a skill that you can gain from training and practice. And who better to learn if from than coaches. Effective coaches tend to be gifted listeners and they hone their listening skills to reach a high level of proficiency. This enables us coaches to reach the inner recesses of your mind and help you get those deep insights.
In the book, Co-Active Coaching, Henry and Karen Kimsey-House explain the three levels of listening and how the art of listening can be cultivated.
Level 1 listening is an interaction where the primary focus of you as the listener is on your own thoughts, opinions, judgments, and feelings. You relate the words you hear to your own experiences or needs. For example, if we are buying a car, we will be listening at Level 1 to the salesperson to see how the car features will fit our needs and budget.
Level 2 listening takes the communication one step further. It involves paying attention to the tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. As you filter out your internal chatter and distractions from the environment, you are able to tune in to the meaning of the words, choose a way to respond, and assess the effect of the response on the speaker.
Level 3 listening brings an entirely new state of awareness to the conversation. It involves doing everything at Level 2, plus using your intuition and being open to receiving more information in any form that it presents itself. If you get a hunch, for example, while listening to someone, you could bring it up without being attached to it. Without insisting on being right, observe the effect it has on the speaker and be aware of where the conversation goes next.
For instance, you may say: “I understand that you are happy with the results, but I have a feeling that you have something else on your mind.” The response may be, “No, not really,” or “Yes, actually, I wanted to tell you about this issue that came up with our project.” It is irrelevant if you are right or wrong; what is important is the effect on the conversation.
So, there you have it – why it is important for you as a leader to hone your listening skills and how you can enhance your depth of listening. The art of listening takes time to develop, but it can be practiced daily. It builds trust and understanding and contributes significantly to your effectiveness as a leader.
If you want to discuss further, just schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking this link above.
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