Practice makes perfect they say, but it is always necessary to navigate a salesperson the right way to follow the path to success step-by-step. You don’t get from point A to point B without some bumps in the road…do you?
Practice makes perfect… but it’s not always so simple
It’s not easy to get salespeople to practice. We know the classic rebuttal: “It’s fine, I just need a couple more ‘at-bats’ and I’ll get the messaging down.” But allowing your salesforce to practice on customers is obviously problematic. But, how else are they going to practice?
It’s tough to get yourself in the headspace to genuinely run through talk tracks in the mirror without pausing and “fixing” things as you go. And friends and family don’t have time to sit and listen while you pretend to sell them stuff. Fortunately, the spread of smartphones and mobile tools can help makes it so they don’t have to. These solutions bring sales certification to life by giving reps a tool to simulate real presentations.
Leverage Self-Coaching to Go the Extra Mile
Leading up to actual certification, use video to leverage self-coaching by having reps complete video-based sales pitch practice assignments, instead of encouraging them to simply practice on their own. We’re often our own harshest critic, so all it takes is a quick look at the video playback to produce the “cringe factor” when we see ourselves say something less than eloquent – a tactic that works better to prompt a retake than any carrot or stick reward. Every new recording is one less “at bat” where they’re practicing on a customer. We’ve found by mining the data from the nearly 100,000 sales reps using our video coaching solution that reps practice an average of four to five takes for each video they submit – meaning less practice is happening in front of the prospect, and more on their own time.
Things a rep might never notice without seeing themselves in action can derail an otherwise strong performance. For example, one rep at a company we analyzed would unconsciously roll his eyes upward again and again as he delivered his presentation. He had no idea he was doing it until reviewing his practice takes, demonstrating how video practice can shine a new light on key elements of a salesperson’s delivery.
The other problem with practicing without video is that we often neglect to map out exactly what we’re going to say. Unless you’re forced to actually speak it out loud and run through it uninterrupted, it’s hard to force yourself to put your thoughts into complete sentences. Instead, we end up practicing more of an outline of what we might say rather than the actual word by word performance, i.e. “First, I’ll talk about their business challenges, etc., etc.; then I’ll talk about our unique approach to solving them, etc., etc…” The weakness of doing it like this surfaces when it comes to filling in the “etc., etc.” during the actual presentation.
Every sales rep should be encouraged to practice regularly as a key part of their preparation for sales certification. Repetition, especially combined with the ability to review, assess and refine one’s own performance using video creates smooth, compelling sales presenters that ace their certification.