A solid sales team is the cornerstone to any successful sales organization. In todayâsÂ financial climate, salespeople are facing obstacles that have impacted their income andÂ their success for the last few years. We recently interviewed sales managers to find outÂ what were their “TOP 3″ priorities for their sales teams. Here is a brief summary of theirÂ answers:
- The top priority mentioned in the survey was for their sales teams to have andÂ maintain a positive attitude in spite of a tough market.
- Priority #2 was the desire for their sales teams to learn to ask better questions toÂ build trust, find out prospect’s needs, and probe to find out the “question behindÂ the question.” Many expressed the need for their teams to learn to dig deeperÂ in the questioning process. This skill helps uncover problems that the averageÂ salesperson is not aware of.
- The third most frequent answer was getting new business. The sales managersÂ see a need for their teams to learn to prospect more effectively to fill theirÂ pipelines. One of the largest obstacles facing these teams is learning to get pastÂ gatekeepers and setting appointments with the right person.
15 – 20% of the managers we interviewed expressed that their teams were doing well.
The rest of the sales managers polled said their business was flat or up slightly. The
felt they were headed in the right direction. Many companies are still struggling.
Below are actual comments from sales managers we interviewed in the following
industries: automotive, manufacturing, software, construction, advertising, financial,
insurance, defense contractor, retail, commercial and residential real estate, pest
control, telecommunications and professional services,
1. Â Having a positive attitude: specific comments from the managers.
- âOur salespeople must be positive about self and life, confident in theirÂ abilities, motivated.â
- âOur sales staff is resistant to change.â
- âOur salesforce needs to find the courage to contact prospects; they mustÂ take the first step and go beyond âcustomer serviceâ.â
- â20% of our staff makes 80% of the sales. They have the positive attitude. Â The rest struggle.â
- âOur salesforce must have the right mindset to succeed. Attitude is 90%Â of the deal.â
- âOur industry has been hit hard. Weâve lost a lot of our sales staff. It isÂ difficult to hire new people. Itâs very hard to make money in our businessÂ today.â
- Â âOur sales team must have an attitude of a âtrusted advisorâ not just aÂ salesperson.â
- âOur salespeople must have a positive attitude and WANT to sell.â
- Â âOur industry is down. We have to work on our attitude daily.â
- âOur industry has been down the last few years. People have a negativeÂ view of our industry. We sell âintangiblesâ and itâs tough âfighting the battleâÂ every day.â
- âHaving a positive attitude consistently is our #1 issue. Our industry isÂ down and we have to be up.â
- âOur staff needs more courage to call on new prospects
2. Â Asking Questions:
- Â âOur people have to be able to âcreate painâ by asking the right questions.â
- âWe have to determine the different roles of the prospects and adjust ourÂ presentation to each person.â
- âOur salespeople must get better at asking questions to build rapport andÂ trust so the customer will invite us into their home. We used to âjust sellÂ furniture,â Now we help a customer with the âlook of a room.â When we getÂ to this level of discussion our sale is 5 â 7 times greater than when theyÂ buy a piece of furniture in our showroom.â
- âOur salesforce needs to understand the customer buying criteria.Â We must do research online. We have to build trust with prospect toÂ understand how their business decisions are made.â
- âWe must use a consultative approach. Because all prospects areÂ different, our presentations are different. Each prospect has differentÂ needs, wants and problems. We need to ask in-depth questions. WeÂ have to ask the âquestion behind the question.â We have to probe theirÂ responses to us.â
- âOur route people say they âdonât have time to sellâ. They are too busyÂ delivering. They lack the confidence and skills to connect with ourÂ customers.â
- âOur conversations have changed from selling furniture to helping aÂ customer âutilize space.â We have to get better at asking questions toÂ determine their needs, wants and desires. We must go beyond theÂ obvious when doing this.â
- âWe have to get better at asking questions and LISTEN to the answers.Â We talk too much. We must listen to UNDERSTAND.â
3. Getting new business
- âOur biggest challenge is getting past the gatekeeper.â
- âMy sales team should spend 50% of their time prospecting, 40% of theirÂ time following through with the sales process, and 10% on paperwork.â
- âWe have to increase market share and find new business. We must getÂ better at EARNING referrals.â
- âOur salesforce has to keep the prospects coming into the funnel andÂ through our pipeline.â
- âWe are in a niche market and focus on select prospects. We have toÂ be really good at how we approach people because we have a limitedÂ audience to call on.â
- âOur image with many people is that we are more expensive than ourÂ competition. As a result, prospects buy from our competition and donâtÂ even check us out. We have to convince them to give us a chance.â
- âWe sell a commodity. People can buy what we sell from a lot ofÂ companies. Our staff must get better at selling value AND relationshipsÂ up front, so we can get quality appointments. We have to get ourÂ prospects out of a transaction mentality.â
The companies that were doing the best were helping their people âfine tuneâ their salesÂ skills. These folks were doing well financially. The majority of these companies had aÂ sales process in place that was constantly being practiced and reinforced.
The companies that had no formal training in place, were far more likely to be
struggling. These companies spent a larger part of their time working on the attitude ofÂ their staff, and much less time on skills training.
How are the SALES MANAGERS doing??? Look forward to Part 2 of this survey in
next weekâs newsletter, where I share the sales managerâs responses to: âWhat are
your biggest challenges today?â