18. It takes 10 months+ for a new rep to be fully productive
New salespeople need time to learn and gain confidence. Speed up this timeline by investing in sales enablement strategies, pairing new reps with seasoned team members, and using online training.
As a new salesperson, do you have a strategy and timeline for learning? Is practice part of your strategy? Do you OWN your learning engagement and information or do you rely on your manager to bring it to you? I invite you to make it your own and to measure yourself regularly – not just to know what you don’t know (yet) but to build confidence in what you DO know. And support knowledge with skill as selling an only be practiced to gain confidence. Theory doesn’t get the job done.
If you don’t have an initial training program that covers 60 months, you are missing an opportunity to get and keep new salespeople. Include skills in product and services, selling, technology, communication, managing actions in time, marketing…all of it. As their sales leader, you need to make skill development part of the culture of creating excellence – and be the example of it.
17. Only 13% of customers believe sales reps understand their needs
Take the time to listen. Too many buyers complain that salespeople do not fully understand their needs and problems. You cannot sell a solution for a problem you don’t know about.
It is said “Customers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” and listening deeply is a fundamental skill for every salesperson to take on as a process of continuous learning. Forever. Take it on as a practice, like meditation and yoga. Find different ways to learn questioning skills – as a form of communication, connection, and problem-solving – and not just as a selling skill. Practice asking “Tell me more about that…” in EVERY conversation. Practice BEING inquisitive and interested. Practice asking questions to take a conversation deeper than surface level and see what happens.
AS a Sales Manager, BE the example of listening skills and practice. Ask yourself:
• Do I ask questions to help my sales team members to discover solutions or do I tell them what to do?
• Do I consciously practice developing MY questioning skills with my salespeople, with support people, with customers?
• Do I fully appreciate the skill of asking questions and deeply listening to responses?
Is there room for me to grow in this area? Am I willing to take that on?
16. Salespeople who seek out and use referrals earn 4–5x more sales
A whopping 91 percent of customers say they would be willing to give referrals for companies and products they are happy with, but only 11 percent of salespeople ask for them!
Salespeople Yikes! These are crazy numbers! And yet, as I read them I know that AS a salesperson, this is my weakest area. Maybe it’s habit, maybe it’s discomfort asking for more than the sale that was just closed, maybe it’s a lack of skill or language to ask with confidence. In any case, it needs to be an essential element of the sales process and of sales training and coaching.
We can focus on marketing actions all day when the closer and more intimate action of asking for referrals lays dormant. Let’s give this a shot and measure the results. Make it a 90-day experiment with frequent reminders, inspection, discussion. This will change when sales managers take this on as a priority and share results with the team.
For sales managers everywhere
We have all heard about how pressure creates diamonds as inspiration to be able to learn to withstand it. The ability to deal with pressure effectively is a learned trait, and sometimes the only benefit of adversity and challenge. Pressure shows what is underneath and who we are.
The Dalai Lama said “How we do anything is how we do everything” and that goes for pressure, too. If we cave and implode, get confused and flaky, get demanding and impatient and angry, those are our defaults under pressure. My quote is: “When we squeeze a tomato, we don’t get orange juice.”
When I work with an organization and get push back from employees, I know that I am providing pressure and revealing how that person will behave under pressure.
Training shows you how your salespeople learn and comprehend, take risks and try new things, and how they perform under pressure. How they behave with the pressure I provide shows you how they will behave with a prospect or customer who doesn’t do what they want them to do. So when they show me resistance or indifference, consider that is the same behavior they will show your customer when they say “I’m just browsing” or “I want to think about it.