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Set Your Sales Reps Up for Success

August 24, 2015

By: Crystal Spraggins

sales-outsourcingAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 14 million sales positions in the United States. For many, sales is a lucrative and satisfying career. Others, however, find sales to be more of a struggle. Jacques Werth, a well-known sales consultant and former sales pro behind "High Probability Selling", believes...

There are 10 top reasons why salespeople fail:

1. Inefficient prospecting.
2. Inconsistent sales processes.
3. Over-reliance on persuasion and convincing techniques.
4. Failure to get a conditional commitment at the beginning of the sales process.
5. Failure to determine the exact buying intentions of sales prospects.
6. Over-reliance on “building rapport” (like) rather than building trust and respect.
7. Over-reliance on “sales presentations” rather than determining what the customer wants.
8. Closing at the end, rather than at the beginning of the sales process.
9. Use of manipulative “overcoming objective” techniques, rather than eliminating objectives throughout the sales process.
10. Being locked into old ideas about selling.

Unfortunately, knowledge of the common sales pitfalls isn’t enough to avoid the pitfalls. What can you do to set your reps up for success?

Sometimes You Just Don’t Know What You Just Don’t Know

The only way any of us get better at our jobs is by regularly increasing our knowledge and skills. One way to assist your employees in increasing their knowledge is through employee coaching.

In "4 Ways to Hold Sales Reps Accountable to Coaching," Jeetu Mahtani, HubSpot's Managing Director of International Sales, explains that HubSpot’s growth requires a training program that enables them to efficiently “get each and every salesperson to a certain baseline of activity and knowledge.”

HubSpot follows four principles to make coaching “stick”:

1. Make goals transparent. HubSpot tells new hires exactly what they’ll be expected to learn and when. Says Mahtani, “By their fourth month at the company, we expect them to independently execute the sales process from start to finish.” 
2. Enable your salespeople to take ownership. Instead of telling employees what to do, HubSpot encourages their salespeople to solve problems by asking them questions and coaching them through the answers.
3. Give your salespeople data. HubSpot uses metrics to drive performance.
4. Follow through. At HubSpot, formal coaching is a part of the process, but not the whole process. Managers are required to regularly provide employee performance feedback to their salespeople throughout their tenure.

No Shortcuts Allowed

In "How to Empower Sales Reps to Be Successful," Dave Utorka, Director of Sales Development for Multiview, a digital B2B marketing company, says that too many companies take shortcuts when it comes to training their reps and miss the chance to teach key skills in the process.

Another problem? Training that’s becomes rote and uninspired. Echoing Mahtani’s comments about employee ownership, Utorka says:

“Some sales organizations simplify the sales process to such an extent, it becomes robotic. As a result, the human element of conversing, asking questions, understanding and responding to consumer needs is completely skipped.”

Sales Training Basics 

That said, Utorka believes all sales training should include the following basic elements:

  • Detailed information about the company’s product line and services.
  • Information about how to uncover potential customer pain points. However, remember that your salespeople need to go beyond “like” to respect and trust.
  • Practice of active listening skills.
  • Information about how to overcome customer objections with “value added statements to reinforce the benefits to the customer.” Says Utorka, “Sales representatives need to be given the skills to move conversation forward when faced with uncertainty or difficulty.”

Even the most haphazard sales training is an investment of time and money, and what company can afford wasting these precious resources?

Instead, set your sales reps up right. Combine tried and true basics with some new thinking about the art of the deal. Your reps (and your company) will be all the better for it.

Crystal Spraggins

Freelance Writer, Editor, and HR Consultant in Philly. You can find more of Crystal's work at:

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