There are only three areas to work on to develop a high performance sales team, and if you crack all three you will achieve sales results that just keep going in the direction that you want.

Process

The world is littered with sales reports that say ‘made contact but the customer had placed an order with the competitor just a month back’.  So is that just bad luck with the timing of the contact?  No, it shows that the process of targeting and touching is either flawed or non-existent.  Absolutely nothing beats an organised, measured, monitored programme of activity for your sales team.  This is not a form of micro-management control for your team, even though some may think so.  It is just a simple fact – you have to work hard because your competitors already are!  If you have three competitors you have to work three times as hard.

Product knowledge

There is nothing that turns off potential buyers like a lack of product knowledge.  They want to talk to people who understand the experiences they are having using your product or a similar competitors product.  That is why sales people with poor product knowledge can be viewed as ‘just a front’ for you and your organisation, for they are judged to be lightweight, just trying to push their numbers, with little affinity for the actual user that parts with their good money for the product of the service.  Years ago when Eastman Kodak was a global chemical and photographic giant they were putting sales people through training that could last 12 months before they were released into the real market.  Perhaps you don’t have that luxury but you can insist that your sales people reach a better than novice standard before you send them to engage with the people most vital to your business.  Remember – the real world is not the place to practice.

Performance in the field

The art of selling is in listening and understanding in a profound way.  Customers will tell you what they want but they will struggle to tell you what they need.  The sales person who understands the ‘need behind the need’ will be the one closest to your customer.  So train them in listening, train them that the word no can be more positive for your relationships than the word yes, and train them to see the world through your customers’ eyes.  If they have worked the process, they are engaging at the right time.  If their product knowledge is strong they will be treated with respect.  Now all they have to do is understand what the customer actually needs and if that need is delivered, the cash register will ring.  Guaranteed.

Craig Ross – The Alternative Board Bay of Plenty

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