In some ways we’re always facing opposition. What defines us, makes us great at our job and what dictates success, is how we overcome that opposition. The sales world is no different. Sometimes in sales the opposition we face can even be self inflicted. It’s important that we know and recognize these challenges. I’ve illustrated what I view as the top three challenges today’s sales team faces and how to handle them.
- Confusing touches with connection.
I can’t imagine a time in history where it’s been easier to identify and contact a prospect. The days of phone and email being the sole source of outbound communication are long gone. Face to face customer interaction is rarely a requirement. Today’s sales professionals has every social platform and piece of technology imaginable. These tools make it easier than ever to reach out and touch a customer. But too often we confuse a touch with a connection. Connection requires two people, a sales pro and prospect, to have a similar association. A common ground. Today’s sales teams are ignoring this important aspect of the buying cycle. We must connect, not convince. Use the technology to find more common ground between you and your prospects. Stop confusions the social touches of your outbound campaigns as actual connections. Managers should instead measure the level of creativity used by sales professionals to create real connections. For example, have a contest to see who has the most creative way to connect with a customer (I.e. Kids go to the same school, love the same coffee shop, go to the same park on Saturday, etc.) Find unique ways to make real connections with your customers.
- Technology reduces work.
I believe that if a machine can do the task, then let it. My friend Rory Vaden discusses task management in his book Procrastinate on Purpose, where he shows how to eliminate, automate and delegate. Too often sales professionals are doing the work that a piece of code, software, or plug in could do for them. Sales managers, it’s our job to eliminate these barriers for our people so that they can do the things technology can’t: close deals, serve customers. Think about the reports regularly required for your sales team, how can you take the work off your salespeople and have the tasks automated, or delegated to technology?
- Training fails the team (in two ways)
Training is something we do, always. Not just the first week. Not just for the 90 day probationary period. Always. Training fails most sales teams because it’s only reserved for the team’s newest members. True professionals always train. Surely you’ve noticed by now that your top performers are always reading a business book or sharing interesting articles with you? This behavior should be structured and every team member should have a professional development plan. Training can also fail the team if it’s only on product or company. We must always train on our craft: selling. If we only train on product enhancements or changes to the corporate structure, then we are failing our team. Regularly scheduled training on skills related to selling is a must: prospecting, account management, and overcoming client resistance, etc.
It’s important for Sales Managers to remember, each of these three challenges facing today’s sales teams can lead to a rep or team failing to produce. When sales professionals fail, it’s the manager’s fault. Every manager must audit his or her team to find ways to prevent these common challenges from derailing your team’s sales success. Be proactive in making it easier for your team to do there job, which is selling.