We have learned many times over the years that the collaboration between sales and marketing is critical. When it’s working, communication is strong and results are aligned. When it’s not, fingers are pointed, blame is cast, and the business suffers. With that in mind, we invited our friend and advisor, John Durso, CEO of Brilliant Sales Strategies, to provide some thoughts on how to reinvigorate a stale sales department.
Even the best sales teams have off days, but when those off days drag on longer than usual, it could be a red flag your sales training is stale. If you suspect your sales team is struggling, check out our list of six signs your sales force is in need of a reset. We even included actionable steps to help them overcome the sales slump.
6 Ways to Tell Your Sales Training is Stale (And How to Fix It)
1. Not Doing Enough Research
Prospecting is like fishing. A seasoned fisherman knows in order to catch a certain fish, they need to get a few critical questions answered first. Likewise, a good salesperson knows the value in getting as much information about their prospect as possible Just like a fisherman needs to know what type of bait to use and where the fish swims, understanding a prospect well enough to know what “bait” (i.e., call, email, in-person meeting, etc.) to use and where to use it is critical. If you suspect your sales team is lacking in intel, here are some tips for researching your target customer.
- Look up the company’s website and gather information from their About Us and Media pages. You can use this information as an ice breaker.
- Google the company to see if they have recently been in the news, good or bad.
- Look the company up on LinkedIn to see who you know that can connect you.
- Reach out to your network and determine the best person to make an introduction for you (this is ideal), or who will let you drop their name in your correspondence.
- Once on their LinkedIn page, try to determine their personality profile. This will inform your method and “bait.” For example, most CFOs and CPAs have a high element of calculation in their personality, so they will respond positively to an email that has details, research, facts, figures, spreadsheets, etc. Whereas a CEO or salesperson might have a high element of drive in their personality, so providing them with too much info will backfire.
Extra tip: Adding the app Crystal Knows to your Google Chrome LinkedIn experience is critical for salespeople today. This plugin will analyze the language on your prospect’s LinkedIn page and give their opinion as to the DISC personality profile of the prospect, giving you advice as to how to proceed with your communication tactics.
If your sales team is struggling to understand their target customer and how they behave, they are likely casting their net too wide, fishing in the wrong lake, or using the wrong bait. A smart salesperson understands the need to take a more targeted approach in order to catch the right fish.
2. Doing Too Much Talking
If you are presenting your value proposition before learning anything about the prospect, and essentially taking over the meeting, you will lose the deal almost every time.
In your initial discovery meeting, lead the conversation by allowing the prospect to speak first and explain their business. In addition to the questions you normally ask to uncover if they may be a fit for you, you should ask other interesting questions like, “Why do you do what you do?” and “What motivates you to get out of bed each day?” These questions will yield many clues to their personality and give you guidance on how to present your value proposition to them.
3. Not Networking
In today’s world, the excuse that “networking events are canceled so there are no opportunities” no longer works. The world of virtual networking is on fire. There are opportunities to attend virtual networking events almost every day, and the organizations putting them on are getting really good at making them a valuable use of time.
I recently secured appointments with 100% of the people I did not know on a networking event held via Zoom. This is important to note because there is no way you can get an appointment with 100% of the people you don’t know at an in-person event.
4. Not Making LinkedIn Part of the End of Every Purchase
The most effective (and least expensive) marketing tool is a referral. Connecting on LinkedIn with customers who love you is a great way to generate an instant referral business. In your connection request, remember to write a message that addresses why you are connecting.
“Hi Ken, Please connect with me? I am looking to grow my business and knowing how happy you are with my service, I’m hoping you can introduce me to some of your friends who may need my services as well.”
5. Recycling Emails and Presentations
Nothing kills an opportunity faster than sending a prospect an email with the wrong company name, especially if a competitor. I recommend taking the time to write each email and each presentation with the prospect in mind. It doesn’t have to be completely from scratch, but care should be taken for each situation. If the prospect feels like they are just a number and are not individual or special, your odds go down.
6. Your Sales Team Does Not Know WHY Your Company Exists
If your sales team can not explain WHY your company exists, then there is a lot of work to be done. When given a choice between two companies who are identical in service and price, it comes down to the skill of the salesperson to educate the prospect on WHY they should choose us over them. The message is very powerful.
A great example is The Monkey’s Uncle, a simple T-shirt shop in Doylestown, PA. They do not outwardly communicate WHY their store exists, yet you instantly see WHY their store exists the moment you walk in the door.
A normal t-shirt shop’s elevator pitch sounds like this “Hi I’m Derrick Morgan, owner of the Monkey’s Uncle. We sell high-quality t-shirts with old logos of your favorite sports teams and retro concert posters for kids and adults. Want to buy one?” Not bad right?
Now if we lead with WHY they exist, the pitch completely changes. “Hi I’m Jeanell Morgan, co-owner of Monkey’s Uncle. We strive to always support our community, little leagues, and favorite local causes. One of our biggest passions is the ongoing mentoring programs for the special needs community. We partner with our local school districts to advocate and support students of all abilities and their access to obtaining real life job skills. We are a retro inspired sports boutique. We sell pretty amazing tee shirts from babies to babes, and dudes to dads – this is the most fun your closet will ever have. Want to buy a t-shirt?”
An easy way to find your why is to first ask your team “What do we do?” then “How do we do it?” Pretend you are a 5-year-old child and continuously ask “WHY” until you get to the answer.
Getting out of a sales slump takes an active, focused effort. If any of these red flags ring true for your sales team, it’s time for some honest feedback. Remember that even the most seasoned salesperson can find their process and training becomes stale. It happens. The important part is recognizing when it does so you can review your sales process and figure out where you’re getting stuck.
If you want to learn more ways to identify sales technique areas of concern, and ways to get the team back on track, reach out to John Durso of Brilliant Sales Strategies and schedule a short virtual meeting JDurso@BrilliantSalesStrategies.com
About the Authors
John Durso, a student of the Disney Institute of Business Excellence, he holds a degree in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University, and through his 22 year career in banking he has helped hundreds of small businesses and nonprofit organizations become more successful in their company culture, leadership development, and sales.
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