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Developing Sales Leadership Skills Is a Strategy for Long-Term Success

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According to a recent report, companies are dedicating only 10% of their learning and development (L&D) resources to improving sales. Indeed, the most common complaint among new hires is the lack of in-depth sales training. Find out why sales training is an investment your company can’t afford to overlook.

 

Why Invest in Learning and Development for Your Sales Team?

The 2019 Learning and Development (L&D) Report from professional search engine findcourses.com conducted a survey of over 70 L&D professionals. Of those surveyed, only 10% reported sales as a top training priority despite the proven benefits of learning and development. The report revealed a clear connection between learning and innovative business practices, diversity and inclusion training and financial growth, and current financial growth with increasing L&D investment.

 

L&D training is a key facet of running a successful and growing business. However, businesses are missing out on fostering long-term growth when they overlook sales training in L&D plans. By strategically increasing investment in L&D, you can maximize your potential for revenue growth, while cementing the sales team at the center of your business’ success.

 

So, what L&D strategies will help more sellers become more effective? If your goal is to lead your sales team to victory, practicing L&D professionals have identified some key training insights to boost sales and encourage innovation.

 

Create a Safe Space for Idea-Sharing

A successful sales team is one that openly shares and communicates their ideas in the spirit of collaboration and mutual support. Tiffany Poppa of Bonobos credits their high rate of innovation to their culture of trust and relationship-building: “Focusing on strengths creates trust; it creates a safe space to try something and possibly fail, have a conversation about it, and move forward.”

 

Similarly, Training Manager of CyberCoders Dani Chang emphasizes idea-sharing when hiring and training new sales recruits: “My team hire, manage, train, and ramp up individuals that have no prior sales or recruiting experience.” The training encourages idea-sharing and bonding among the new recruits which is then carried throughout their time with the company, ultimately leading to higher levels of innovation.

 

Stay Flexible and Adaptable

Businesses often require sales teams to switch tact quickly and efficiently. Keeping your L&D program agile will help you lead your team smoothly into any new structure that results from mergers or acquisitions. Consistent evaluation and recalibration are the best ways to keep exceeding expectations.

 

Tiffany Poppa, Director of Employee Experience at Bonobos explains that, “Focusing on what’s right with people makes for an inclusive environment where people can openly express themselves, their ideas and even their challenges.” Cultivating a working environment and an agile L&D culture that encourages openness is the first step to inviting innovation to your office, and to keep it there.

 

Embrace the Future of Sales with Virtual Reality

Harnessing the power of new virtual reality technology gives sales teams the opportunity to complement existing training with something relatively rare: practice-as-learning in a safe environment.

 

VR coaching company STRIVR’s Chief Strategy Officer Danny Belch has seen the impact of VR on L&D in real time. “With VR, because of the on-demand nature, a real-life experience can be fired up at the click of a button … it’s not role-play. You have this beautifully free space to practice, to stumble on your words,” Belch observes. He finds that putting the information presented in training into a real-life scenario gives you the repetition needed to get it right.

 

The Key Takeaway

Investment in sales training L&D will provide the tools to maximize your sales team’s success. Making that upfront investment in L&D, creating a safe space for idea-sharing,  researching the latest trends in technology and innovation and keeping your training agile and personalized are all techniques practicing L&D professionals have found successful. Boosting sales training is no small feat, but the research shows that investment in L&D is by far the best place to start.

 

Keely Witherow is a writer and content editor at professional training search engine findcourses.com and higher education portal educations.com. A native-Texan based in Stockholm, Keely has utilized her interest in cross-cultural relations to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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How to Go from Good to Great in Sales

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If you’re stuck trying to answer the question of how any can company (good, bad, and mediocre) improve and achieve greatness, you aren’t alone. Most people wonder how some companies can go from good (or bad) to some of the most elite companies in the world. In a sense, it falls on the sales managers and the sales teams. No sales team is ever going to be great if the sales manager settles for being good instead of the best. Being good is much easier than being great.

Who and What

Most people focus on the ‘what’ first, but you need to focus on finding the right people before anything. Your human capital is your best asset. Not all people are going to fit the bill, but that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize them in other ways.

You may need to shift people around, hire new sales reps, and let go of current ones. Once you have everyone in place based on their strengths, you can determine your strategies and vision for the company.

Consider a variety of questions to weed through your current employees. You should determine if there are people on the team that shouldn’t be there. You may also want to focus on moving team members to new positions that aren’t in the best positions or whose skills aren’t being utilized to the max.

Trying to find the perfect sales executive for your organization? Click here to learn more about our executive sales recruiting.

Confront but Keep Faith

Research has shown that you achieve results primarily when you make a series of good decisions. However, they must be executed at the right time and must be in sequence to work. Of course, perfection isn’t the key here, but to be great, you must make multiple good decisions one after the other, and you must make more good decisions than bad ones. Of course, to do that, you need the most accurate information.

How Practicing Hunger, Hustle and Humility Can Transform Your Personal Life and Sales Career

For a few years now, thanks in large part to a best-selling book, the three H’s of hunger, hustle and humility have been buzzwords in C-level offices all over the United States.

Unfortunately, the book leaves everyone on the lower floors out in the cold because it is specifically targeted at those in leadership positions. To be more precise, the book theorizes that being humble, staying hungry and always hustling – in that order – is the can’t miss formula for leadership success.

While the author is not wrong about the three H’s, he has missed the boat on a couple of major points. First, the three H’s can be applied by anyone who dreams of being more successful whether it be in their personal lives or in their sales careers. Second, the three H’s need to flow in the following order:

Hunger: Without the desire to be a more successful sales professional, there is no motivation to make the necessary changes and to do the work that will make it happen. Even if your goal is a modest one, the hunger simply must come first or there’s no reason to change.

hungry-businessman

Hustle: Having identified your goal and what you need to change to achieve it, understand there is only one way to get there… hard work! Give it all you’ve got and once you’ve achieved your goal, you will have created a roadmap and a work habit that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

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Humble: This one’s a no brainer for the third spot. After all, without hunger and hustle driving you to new heights, what do you have to be humble about? Decide you want a big stick and then do the work to get that stick. Once you have it, then you can worry about walking quietly. Staying humble provides you with several benefits. These include more self-control, better relationships, and better leadership skills.

While not a professional salesman in the truest sense, Hall of Fame golfer Gary Player exemplifies the three H’s when applied in the correct order. As a 15-year-old growing up on a farm in South Africa, Player’s father asked him what he planned to do for a living. He replied that he was going to be the No. 1 golfer in the world.

“Are you sure about that, son?” replied an unconvinced Player Sr. “There are a lot of very good golfers out there.”

“I know,” the younger Player replied. “But I’m going to outwork all of them.”

Today, having followed his passion for golf (Hunger) and gaining a reputation as the hardest working player on the global tour (Hustle), Player is quietly retired in Florida with nine major championship trophies scattered around his living room. Although you’d never know it by talking to him (Humble), that ties him for 4th on the all-time list, trailing only Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Walter Hagen.

So, find something that makes you hungry – even if all you want is the Employee of the Month parking spot – and then will yourself to develop the habits to get you to where you want to go. Then, and only then, will it be time to work on staying humble.

Why So Few People Are Successful In Sales

According to recent Labor Department statistics, there are currently more than 155 million people working one job or another around the United States.

Of that number, only about 10% of workers are officially in sales although it is a generally accepted fact that most people do end up selling either directly or indirectly, even if it’s not part of their formal job description. But, that’s another topic for another day.

For now, let’s just go work with 15 million as the official number of people who work in the sales industry as we consider some other interesting statistics:

  • Only 10% of salespeople are successful

  • Only 10% of successful salespeople enjoy above-average success

So, what does all this mean for one of the oldest professions known to man? It means that out of a workforce of over 155 million people, just 150,000 salespeople achieve the kind of success they dreamt about when they entered the profession.

The Real Reasons Why Salespeople Aren’t More Successful

There are many reasons why salespeople aren’t more successful as any quick Google search will attest. Page after page of results will give you the top reasons why salespeople fail with most articles tending to focus on the usual suspects such as:

No sense of urgency

  • Being unorganized

  • Negative attitude

  • Poor work ethic

  • Lack of planning

  • Limited sales training

  • Limited sales coaching

While sales training and sales coaching usually end up at the bottom of these lists (if they make the list at all), the truth is they are the two most important bullet points for employers and sales managers to consider.

training-sessionProvide your team access to well-conceived, effective and ongoing sales training and sales coaching and it will provide them with the skills they need to eliminate any barrier to success you might find on a Top 10 list on the internet.

As their skills improve, so will their confidence and their desire to sell more. Not only will this be good for them and their careers, it will also help your company get to where you want it to be, resulting in a win-win for everyone.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Sales Team

Any high-performing sales team must have strict processes in place and focus on the organization of the team. Sales managers must hit quarterly and monthly goals, but they must also have the cooperation of the sales team. Sale reps also have personal goals and aren’t likely to care about how other sales reps fare. In some cases, incentives for the most sales creates an environment where salespeople sabotage each other to get ahead. Most teams have some of these five distinct dysfunctions that keep them from success.

 

The Five Dysfunctions of a Sales Team Include:

 

No Trust

If sales reps on the team don’t trust each other, they can’t take action or say anything because they’re fearful of blowback. Trust is the foundation of sales team success, and nothing happens without it. Sales managers should make this a priority. You can build trust within your sales team by spending more time with them, ensuring you are communicating effectively, hold your sales team accountable,

 

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Too Much Conflict

While you should always strive to minimize conflict, you must also be willing to address it quickly to ‘nip it in the bud.’ When team members trust each other, they know that they can voice their opinion or say what they feel without it being considered a personal attack. However, if you are experiencing higher levels of conflict within your sales team, make sure that you put guidelines in place to manage that conflict in a practical way.

 

Too Little Commitment

While being part of the goal-setting or decision-making process is a start, these methods only give salespeople partial commitment to the company. Without commitment, there is no action. Everyone should be committed to the success of the sales team as a single unit. When your sales team is aligned in such a way, sales goals are much easier to achieve because your sales reps can communicate openly and rely on one another to help when needed. Your sales reps should be at such a place where they are able to openly agree/disagree with others and explain why they disagreed/agreed.

 

No Accountability

Most of the time, people think accountability is only for the sales manager, but every salesperson needs to be accountable to themselves, the team, and the department. When your team is held accountable your team works better together and the entire group operates more smoothly. Avoid using accountability as a means of punishment but try to work it in as a way to better operate as a single unit.

 

Not Getting Results

While all these dysfunctions need to be addressed and can help you deal with the inability to see results, everyone has to do their work and perform their best to get those results. When all the other elements are in play, it’s easier to get work done and achieve those results.

Strengthen your sales management and sales coaching skills with Lincoln Leadership.