Take a hard look at the best sales teams -- the ones that really blow their quota out of the water. What do you see? Look past the high fives, the ring of the sales bell, or even the energy on the floor at any given moment. You’ll see the best sales teams are getting better every single day.
They make it easy for new and seasoned reps alike to improve, which gives them the best chance to beat quota. How do they do it? Here are the tips for creating a winning sales culture through sales training and beyond.
4 Tips for a Winning Sales Culture
1. Make it start with you
As the sales manager or leader, your strategy for getting better can’t be having your reps smile and dial. You set the standard for what good looks like. So, show your team that it’s good to take time to develop a strategy for outreach and write down assumptions.
Remember, in sales, we’re graded on outcomes as well as activity. Reward your most efficient and effective reps in addition to your volume players.
2. Focus on your offering
One of the most important parts of sales training is understanding the product. Every single team will focus on the product category (e.g., “This is why having a CRM is important.”) or the competition (e.g., “Why we’re better than Competitor Y.”).
What most sales teams forget to tell you is what exactly you’re selling (e.g., “Are we selling vitamins or painkillers?”).
This makes a massive difference. To a person in pain, a painkiller is the only solution. There will be implicit urgency, and your product has a built-in answer to “Why us?” -- one of the toughest messaging questions in sales.
If you’re selling vitamins, you must discover how to manufacture that urgency. The more exposure you can give new reps to your customers to answer the vitamin or painkiller question, the more effective they’ll be in talking with prospects.
3. Create an environment of iteration
Some sales teams come in every day and do exactly the same thing. They send the same emails at the same time and read from the same dial scripts day in and day out. Are these teams getting any better?
Compare that with the team that kicks off a three-week campaign where reps are trying a new sales script variation or a new channel (e.g., LinkedIn automation or handwritten letters after the call).
Some of the new tactics might not work, but the ones that do will become ingrained in your new sales process -- one that yields better outcomes.
By creating an environment of iteration, you make it possible for your reps to work smarter, not harder. Having regular ideation meetings and reviews instead of simply weekly updates can drive massive results for your team.
4. Foster autonomy
Larger sales teams live off consistency, sometimes at the expense of rep autonomy. If you want a team that learns and improves over time, you must get comfortable handing the steering wheel over to your reps.
Let your team know what’s set in stone and what isn’t. Encourage them to test the waters and author some of the plays in your sales playbook. If you don’t make this abundantly clear from the beginning, your team will get stuck in what’s worked in the past and forget about ways to innovate and improve.
If your business is like a war, your sales team is on the front lines. A single BDR has more interaction with customers and prospects in a month than a product manager has in a year.
They’ll know when the tide of battle is turning in your favor or against you. They’ll also be the most willing to adapt, if you let them. By creating a feedback loop and letting your sales team iterate, you’ll learn about the customer and how to win business every single day you walk into the office.
In this list, a few of the honorees weighed in on the best advice they give to reps on a variety of topics. Sales managers, forward these thought-provoking tidbits to your teams to shake up their status quo.
"Most sales professionals want to push their products. They focus on their pitch and their presentation. At the end of the day, it isn’t about us -- it is about our clients. We need to know their industry, their business, and how they want us to add value. We have to listen and engage more and pitch and present less."
"To study and master your craft, be an expert in product knowledge, sales skills, sales process, and execution. Harness your stamina, resilience, and natural drives for success. Know yourself well and work from your strengths."
Notable clients: AutoNation, American Red Cross, SONY
"Stick to the fundamentals and always focus on what your buyer wants to have happen. By overcomplicating the sales process or getting too focused on what you want to have happen instead of what the prospect wants to have happen, your chances of success drop to virtually zero."
"Stay true to the process. Your customers will take you to different places during your sales interactions, and as sales professionals, we must always know where we are and maintain a clear path to where we want to end up. Focus on the steps that are necessary and maintain control of the conversation. If you don’t stay true to the process you'll find yourself advancing the sales process too quickly or not fast enough, or working with the wrong people. This will hurt your chances to close and build lasting relationships."
Notable clients: Daimler, JP Morgan Chase, Chick-fil-A
"To be successful, you can't rely on your old way of doing things. Buyers don’t need salespeople to educate them on products and services anymore. They want ideas on what they can do to improve their businesses -- not just a solution for today’s issues. They want sellers to be thought leaders who can give them advice and, more importantly, provide valuable insight that pushes their own thinking further. Therefore, sales professionals must transform their dependence on buyer-initiated buying processes to seller-initiated sales campaigns. That means selling is no longer just a function of uncovering or responding to preexisting demand. It is about creating demand where none existed before."
"As a sales rep, you have two objectives with your customer: create value and build trust. Every interaction with a customer should accomplish these objectives in some manner. You can create value for a customer by sharing a big, bold idea. But if they don’t trust you they will simply take your idea and bring it to someone who they do trust to implement it. If you just build trust but don’t add any value, then your customer will think of you as a good guy but won’t have a compelling reason to buy anything from you. This is why creating value and building trust is important."
"Make sure that you are providing value to existing and prospective customers throughout the sales process. Ultimately, your ability to add value forges a relationship that goes beyond likability and positions you against competitive threats, especially competitors who sell solely on price."
"The internet changed the buyer/seller relationship. Now, the needed information that the buyers use to make a purchase decision is just a click away. The power in the buying and selling process has shifted from the seller to the buyer. So if the buying process has transformed, should your sales process transform to match today’s empowered buyer? Of course it should."
"Find a learning partner -- another person who you can coach and can coach you -- and commit to learning something new every month. If you stop learning, then something else will stop, too: revenue growth."
"You are busy, there is no doubt, but be busy doing the right things, with the right people, at the right time, on the right issues. Rigorously use your process, methodology, and tools to win more business and make more money than those who don’t put these enablement tools to work."
"Expand your peripheral view of who you can coach and positively impact. You can coach your peers, partners, customers, and stakeholders -- and you can also effectively coach your boss. You can deliver your message in an effective way regarding how you like to be coached, managed, held accountable, communicated to, and supported. You can also discuss certain tasks, projects, problems, people, or commitments in a way that won’t put your boss on the defensive and instead, create a healthy platform for collaboration and discussion."
Notable clients: Johnson & Johnson, Salesforce.com, New York Yankees
"Be other-centered. I promise you your competition is centered on self. If you truly make the decision to serve your clients and build awareness of what is important to them -- becoming an expert at solving their problem in the process -- receptivity grows, and your recommendations will be embraced."
"The purpose of a business is to solve a specific problem in the market. But often times, salespeople believe the purpose is to make money. While businesses need to make money, that, in fact, is not the objective. Your job as a salesperson is to help businesses achieve their purpose. Your discovery needs to focus on what the business is trying to do and the issue they are trying to solve -- not how the business is trying to use your product or service. When they win, you win!"
Top Sales Training Companies (and Their Specialties)
If you want to give your own sales training a boost, here are some of the top companies in the space and what exactly they can help you with.
ValueSelling Associateshelps B2B companies compete and win in markets crowded with seemingly similar products and services. If you need a good answer to the “Why Us?” question, they can help you refine, and ramp your sales team. And with over 20 years of sales training leadership under their belt, they’re an established player in this space.
The Brooks Group
Ever wonder “What if I could make my sales reps the most street-smart reps in my industry?” They would inherently know how to navigate tough conversations, flip positions into interests, and get around those tough objections.
The Brooks Groupis a corporate sales training and sales management training company focused on doing just that. Their training systems provide street-smart, actionable strategies that help salespeople sell more effectively and help sales managers coach and lead more successfully.
They’ve seen good success with this approach, as 94% of The Brooks Group’s training participants win new accounts as a direct result of the training.
Janek Performance Group
Janek Performance Group’s mantra is to never stop improving. And this sentiment is upheld through their continuously updated, research-based sales training programs.
They’re doubling down on the sales environment of iteration and can help you do the same by developing, testing, and rolling out new sales training programs and enablement tools.
On average, Janek’s customers hit a 21% performance lift after their first 90 days on the training program.
A learning solution used by top sales teams,Lessonlyknows the best managers are phenomenal coaches. Whether refining a pitch or closing a deal, great managers can level up their reps by practicing and providing a clear feedback loop.
Their platform enables easy training authoring and distribution to your team and can cover everything from product knowledge to pitch skills.
Want to always be closing? Always be learning. Lessonly brings continuous learning to your sales team to create engaged reps, happier customers, and more closed deals.
Sales training companies are often hired when reps need a performance jolt. Numbers are falling, and leaders' shoulders are drooping. Don't wait until you're at that point. Invest in sales training early and often -- and see the benefits immediately.
Originally published Sep 26, 2018 7:47:00 PM, updated January 28 2019