Selling Strategy: Focus on People or Products?
On the surface, it’s easy to see products as the center of your sales strategy. After all, products and services are the things you sell. It’s natural to build a strategy around them. You want to highlight their best features, compare to the competition, and price to make a profit.
However, as easy as this sounds, it’s just not realistic. Unless your product is revolutionary, like the first smart phone, it’s only marginally different from the competition. On its own, there’s not much to distinguish it from the others. That’s why a product-focused strategy is limited. Instead, even the best products need a sales strategy centered around the people who sell. Here’s how to build your sales strategy around your most important asset, your sales team:
Create a Winning Culture
Generally, happy products sell as much as unhappy products. Conversely, happy salespeople sell more than unhappy ones. Therefore, organizations must create a winning culture. Of course, compensation is important. But more than money, salespeople want to feel valued. To create a winning culture, consider these tips:
- Team Building
While it’s tempting of think of salespeople as a homogenous group, they’re often diverse. The things that encourage and motivate them are different. To get the most from a sales team, organizations and managers must know them as individuals. Some sellers thrive on attention and direction. Others do their best work in the shadows. If the goal is selling products, managers must understand their reps and let them work at their own pace.
Similarly, most comp plans already consider incentives and bonuses. When creating a culture, get beyond money. Think of fun and competitive activities that let reps earn office bragging rights. Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. From your workspace, team, and even your products, create an inviting environment for your team.
When building culture, never neglect the office happy hour. Depending on your schedule, these can be weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly, but they should be regular. It need not take long. But set time to gather the team, both those in the office and those who work remotely. Provide drinks, snacks, or deserts. And enlist the C-suite. Culture starts from the top.
One of the best ways to ensure sales success is regular coaching. For best results, this should be a mixture of both group coaching and one-on-one sessions. Critical to all coaching is assessment and goal setting. This ensures team members work toward the organization’s objectives. To enable your reps with coaching, focus on these criteria:
- One-on-one coaching
- Group coaching
- Goal setting
- Product coaching
Group coaching ensures team members are on the same page. They must be aware of the organization’s expectations. They need to know how many calls they must make and the number of deals in their pipeline. They must know deal size in relation to revenue. Transparency in coaching ensures reps understand their goals and how to achieve them.
In addition to metrics, reps must know their managers support them. This makes one-on-one coaching so critical. They need the encouragement, security, and motivation managers can provide. More than anything, the personal connection between reps and managers can inspire and drive reps to achieve more. It also builds loyalty and ensures long-term success for both the rep and organization.
In sales, we can get caught up in numbers. Of course, tracking and goal setting are essential, but sales reps are not androids. They are people first, and the heart of sales is human interaction. For reps to best connect with clients, they should first connect with their managers and the products they sell.
Beyond the calls they make or the deals they close, reps must know how a product works. They must understand why it’s an effective solution. In addition, reps should be coached on how their products differ from their competition. These conversations will come up. Therefore, it’s imperative reps are prepared.
Even more, the best reps are the face of their products. They embody what they sell. This relationship is essential to success. It’s also something that can be coached and developed.
In addition, sales managers should keep on eye on a rep’s long-term development. This benefits both the rep and your organization. Good coaching helps sales reps close deals. Great coaching motivates, inspires, and builds tomorrow’s sales leaders.
As the sales landscape shifts, it’s vital reps understand how to meet their clients’ changing needs. Like reps, managers are confined to their organizations. Training can provide a new perspective. It can help managers and reps step out of their cocoons and see the bigger picture. Here are some advantages of training:
- Outside perspective
- Update skills and behaviors
- Understand modern buyers
- Leverage Technology
- Train sales coaches
Today, the field of sales training is vast. Organizations have many options. When choosing a sales training organization, select one that best meets your needs. Examine their curriculum. Evaluate how it pertains to your industry, products, and sales team. Meet with the trainer to discuss their expertise and experience.
Sales training should provide an educational experience that gets beyond your day-to-day operations. Seek a new perspective that understands the trends and movements within your industry and the solutions you offer. Also, select a trainer who connects with your team as your team connects with clients.
All sales training organizations have their own curriculum. Pick a partner that can teach and reinforce the best sales practices to reach modern buyers. These days, buyers are better educated. They do their own research and draw their own conclusions. Sellers must understand how to engage these buyers later in the sales process. A quality trainer can provide the necessary tips and behaviors to boost sales. This includes leveraging technology to build relationships.
Of course, quality sales training does not come cheap. However, it’s an investment in your team. Critical to the success of training is reinforcement. Choose a training program that links to your coaching and trains managers to effectively coach the material. This level of reinforcement increases retention and ensures repeatable success in your day-to-day coaching and selling.
Whether it’s a creepy cabbage doll, a desktop computer, or a phone that connects to the internet, products get the glory. However, beyond the names, hype, and revenue, people drive sales. From identifying and explaining to implementing solutions, a sales team brings a product to market. They educate and comfort buyers and bear the responsibility for a product’s success or failure. For today’s B2B buyer, a great product can provide a short-term solution. But a great salesperson can become a long-term partner. Ultimately, all organizations want their products to impact, influence, and inspire their customers. To achieve this, your sales strategy should enable, empower, and enrich your sales team.
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