Whether its football, hockey or badminton, a team can’t win without a coach and a lot of practice. Even the best players won’t find themselves at the goal line without the fundamentals. How can we expect our sales teams to win without sales training?
Successful sales teams have a lot in common. Follow these ten tactics to take your game to a whole new level, making you the most valuable player to every customer.
Tactic 1: On a level playing field give your team the big picture advantage.
Put your mission statement and goals in writing with access for everyone on the team. Product line, technical knowledge, machine population, buyer behavior, location and emerging trends play important roles in the sales effort. Yet, what makes a dealership truly distinct may be the commitment of its sales team. Are they willing to learn, explore and make the right choices to meet company goals? Do they understand the big picture?
Tactic 2 Train for Success
Managers need to sell their ideas, not just recite what they’ve learned. Describe what drives your decisions. Let your team know how you measure sales and margin, why you rely on data to identify new customers and how you determine when customers will be buying.
Managers prioritize sales efforts and appropriate resources, configure sales territories, map machine population and sometimes test markets. It’s a big job. They need well-sourced data. When a manager explains what drives his decisions he gains credibility and is more likely to listen, inspire and lead with authority.
Tactic 3: Gain competitive advantage with market and customer intelligence
Manufacturer training, both in person and online, is often cited as an important means for instilling product knowledge. But in today’s competitive environment product knowledge is not enough. Dealers must go beyond features and benefits. Competitive intelligence is needed. Salespeople must know who needs what products and services and when. In other words, they should anticipate customer needs. Well-prepared salespeople impress during every interaction with a prospect or customer. They are customer focused.
Competitive intelligence from multiple sources should be available to every sales person. It allows them to make good decisions and manage their time wisely.
Tactic 4: Hire the right people. Set goals.
John Maxwell of Sandler Training has worked with many sales teams over his 20+ year career. He has identified three constraints on top sales performance. “First, you need the right people on the team. Are they ambitious, motivated and committed to grow? Second, is there a systematic approach to sales? Third, are goals set and a mentoring program in place?” He says the right people show a track record of success, possess strong self-esteem and are goal oriented. A systematic approach to sales provides a foundation for improving performance. “Without a system, the ‘wing it’ method dominates. Too many variations occur and the lack of discipline causes efforts to deteriorate.”
Chasing non-existent leads or quoting unmotivated customers are symptoms of a broken system. Solid metrics should be in place to measure performance. When goals change, metrics should change as well. Are salespeople making calls and following up? Are they reaching out to enough people? Do they know what activity is taking place?
Tactic 5: Be strategic. Keep score.
Formal, strategic account planning is needed to manage a territory well. Do you know who the top equipment buyers are within the territory at any particular time? Recognize territory potential. Reaching out to buyers of all brands when their equipment is nearing the end of its useful life makes sense. Teach your sales team to be proactive. Compare what your dealership sold with what your competitor sold. Identify who needs parts or rental equipment.
A well thought out sales plan includes how to best use your resources. Group customers and prospects by opportunity, market, and location. Know whom to call on, how to reach each account and what to do once you are in front of them.
Tactic 6: Leverage technology
When technology works for you, laptops, iPads, and smartphones can be used to access data including emails and customer lists from anywhere, anytime. This is where good research and data are important. Technology helps prioritize what to do and manage accounts better.
Tactic 7: Target new opportunities
Relationships are built on knowledge of the customer and that’s a starting point for selling. Follow-up with known customer accounts is not prospecting. A common fault among equipment sales teams is to make the rounds and call on buddies. Overstretched to cover their territories, they tend to react instead of act.
Tactic 8: Do your homework
Ron Slee shares this simple research formula for the equipment dealer salesperson:
– Knowing the machine population is mandatory.
– Knowing the customer is mandatory.
– Knowing the application is mandatory.
– Knowing your product’s features and benefits is mandatory.
– Knowing your competition is mandatory.
All this knowing occurs before a sales call is made.
Information on prospective customers is readily available through the Internet. Review press releases, scan news items, read website copy and blog content. Social media sites such as LinkedIn can be used to identify common connections with a potential buyer. In fact, a study from Reachable, a supplier of social media software, reveals that personal connections can increase the likelihood of receiving a call back five-fold and improve sales productivity by more than 240 percent. Also, salespeople should speak with anyone they know inside the company. Digging deeper using data sources including your CRM system and EDA equipment-buyer data can provide insight on the following types of questions:
Who are a customer’s biggest competitors?
What have they bought in the past? By brand, type, from whom and when?
Who are the key executives?
With this knowledge, a cold call transforms into a warm call.
Tactic 9: Make good calls
The objective of a sales call is to understand what your prospect’s needs are and learn what the circumstances are around that need. Listen and ask relevant questions to find answers. Encourage sales people to make an upfront agreement on what’s going to happen at the meeting and what the next step will be.
Sales training experts agree that every sales call should have an objective – a game plan. A plan increases the likelihood your call will have information of value to the prospect.
To discover a customer’s business goals and challenges to achieving these goals, it is essential to establish credibility with a prospect. A referral may do this quickly. The reputation of the dealership or manufacturer often lends credibility. But sales people must do this on their own as well. The secret is not in speaking highly of yourself, but focusing on the prospect, sharing what you know about them, listening and asking questions. In doing so, you will learn of their willingness to engage and maybe even change. Has their existing equipment become unreliable? Have they outgrown it? Why now? These are good questions to ask.
Prospects will often challenge the salesperson. They may ask about specs, price, services, or applications. Salespeople should be prepared to respond to these anticipated questions. Are they ready to distinguish your dealership from a competitor?
Tactic 10: Become the most valuable player
Once a salesperson finds the answers to all they have inquired about, they should provide value added benefits. For instance, knowing that the prospect owns aging equipment, they can describe your highly qualified service technicians and parts inventory. Knowing the business requires time sensitive delivery, they can describe your delivery process and guarantees if applicable. Competitive intelligence is a signal.
Sales professionals in the equipment market need to up their game. How is your dealership responding to a changing market and customer base? Are you taking advantage of new technology and intelligence available to improve your sales process? You are the coach with a playbook. Provide on-going reinforcement. Hold coaching sessions and encourage self-study through books or websites to keep the team motivated. Provide the right data tools to empower their efforts, to share insights and explore possibilities. You’ve got to know what it takes to win.
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