Onboarding and getting sellers up to speed is a huge task. They’re different than previous sellers, the market might be different and their job might also be different. To reach their goals and those set for them, new sellers have to learn a new way of succeeding in a new environment. They need practice, motivation and team-building to help them, which boils down to training. Without training how can we expect them to meet and surpass our expectations?
Here are four activities that every manager should do weekly to begin the training process:
1. Practice qualifying questions
Most sellers are not asking enough questions to properly understand the customer’s goals and might not even fully know what they’re listening for. They need to ask questions in order to learn their customer’s business and identify the right fit.
Which questions uncover the right information?
Try playing “The Press Conference” game. Begin by bringing in a member of the staff who has been with the company a long time and can authentically and intelligently play the part of the client. The new sellers then get to pepper “the client” with 20 questions. When done, the individual playing the client should reveal their real goals, issues, business problems and opportunities.
Most sellers will be surprised by how little their first 20 questions penetrated the customer’s world. They will also learn to listen, rather than simply rely on the same “tried and true” all-purpose questions for each sales meeting and gain more insight into their company’s specific clients.
Role-playing most closely resembles real life and serves as an important rehearsal for actual upcoming meetings where a lot is dependent on each moment.
Since selling is performance art, do you really want your sellers performing unrehearsed? How do you know what they may do in the field if you don’t even watch rehearsals?
The benefits extend beyond the person playing the seller. Observers can learn even more by analyzing the performance. The most experienced sellers can share their insights and the new hires will quickly learn to be prepared for the sales challenges presented in role-plays, which will extend over into their actual sales conversations.
3. Create they say – I say exercises
Challenge your sellers to write down their most challenging objections and then draft their best turnarounds. New hires can refer to this and experienced sellers can keep refining this document.
Sellers will begin to see their world as a series of easily answered questions and objections that can be quickly turned around. In a sense, their sales conversations will begin to slow down and they’ll anticipate what is going to happen, as well as recognize different variations of the same objections and questions.
Sellers need to have a story for every situation. By being armed with success stories that can add color to their sales presentations they’ll be much better prepared to satisfy their prospects.
Elaborate case studies aren’t always required, but each seller on your team needs to at least have the talking point version of a success story that can help answer these common and challenging customer questions:
Setting aside time each week for your sellers to share their stories with each other will help your entire team be better prepared.
Establishing these training exercises early on will not only help to quickly onboard your new hires, but will also increase the entire team’s success. Creating an effective sales team requires consistent training and coaching to develop confidence and greater selling competence.
The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.