In the world of sales, the pursuit of success is relentless. Sales organizations have high expectations for their sales teams, pushing them to do better and be better. While setting goals is necessary for any type of growth, the problem arises when sales managers expect improvement without providing education. They expect miracles, underestimating the impact that continuous learning has on improved sales performance.
As a result, they get caught up in the vicious cycle of, “Oops we did it again.”
There is a way out of this vicious cycle.
It all starts with working with each salesperson to set not only their sales goals but also their learning goals. To paraphrase the late Maya Angelou, “When you know better you do better. This will vary by each individual so avoid the one-size-fits-all approach to education. One salesperson may need training and coaching around specific selling skills, another in time management skills and yet another in soft skills, emotional intelligence skills.
Let’s look at a few hypothetical situations.
Selling skills – During your one-on-one coaching session, dig deep into your salesperson’s win-loss ratio. Look at patterns for winning and losing. Determine if the losing patterns are due to lack of soft skills or hard selling skills. With analysis and discussion, you and the salesperson agree that her close ratios could improve if she gained skills on how to navigate through a prospect’s decision-making process.
This targeted learning goal significantly improves the salesperson’s ability to achieve her sales goal.
Priority management – This salesperson works hard, however, with closer examination and conversation with your salesperson, you both agree that this individual is working harder, not smarter. They’ve never learned the basics of goal setting, calendar blocking, honoring the calendar and managing distractions. As a result, this salesperson ends up wasting time one or two hours a week which directly impacts the time devoted to selling. By addressing these foundational skills, the salesperson works smarter, not harder. Studies have shown that sales reps who dedicate time to improving priority management skills can see a staggering 30% increase in productivity.
This salesperson now knows how to work on revenue producing activities resulting in more sales with less stress.
Emotional intelligence skills – This salesperson is really smart. He has a thorough understanding of your technical products, is a great problem solver and is good at connecting the dots between a prospect’s pain and your solutions.
However, he couldn’t read a room if the walls were wall papered with the conversation. He misses the non-verbal conversation happening in every conversation. As a result, prospects often don’t feel heard or understood, lowering trust, likeability and sales.
The learning goals for this salesperson will be around emotional intelligence, specifically empathy. Training around this important soft skill will help him emotionally connect with prospects.
Trust and likeability improve along with close ratios.
It’s a sales manager’s role to foster a culture of continuous learning. In a profession where the bar for success is continually raised, recognize the symbiotic relationship between learning goals and sales goals. Set learning goals and sales goals. Break the cycle of unmet expectations.