Rather than a genetic predisposition or birth talent, one learns sales talent. That means managers who lament that their sales team doesn’t make the numbers they need to simply have not trained them to do so. This comes as great news to every business that relies on sales of some type, and wait - that means every business. To train your sales team, you first need to determine the school of thought or mindset used by your sales manager.
Certainly, sales talent exists. Hopefully, your human resources department hires well. Don’t despair if they didn’t or if you’re a startup who hired new graduates. When your sales manager does complain that the team doesn’t have the talent to make the target numbers, ask why to determine their mindset. How you tackle the problem and develop your sales training program depends on their mindset, as team leader.
Sales managers who see talent as a static metric based on the natural talent of incoming and existing hires require education themselves to the effect that sales success is learned.
Sales managers who see talent as a metric within their control based on working with and mentoring the incoming and existing hires require direct support from you to develop a sales training program.
Here’s how to tell which mindset your sales manager has. Those who see talent as a static metric blame low numbers on a non-competitive compensation program; HR policies that don’t allow necessary hiring and firing; talent loss to a competitor; HR recruiting errors. Managers who see talent as a metric within their control blame low numbers on a young, growing team; onboarding and training programs that lack in multiple areas; lack of customer value. To succeed in sales, you need to turn your static metric sales manager into a developmental manager, then develop a successful sales training program. If you’ve already got a developmental manager, you can jump right into developing your training program.
Determine what your sales program and sales people need. This starts with building a persona of the ideal sales representative. Create a list of the key skills and traits of a successful sales representative. Next, interview each of your sales people to assess their experience and skill in each of the success traits. This identifies your areas of improvement.
These areas of improvement determine the basis of your development plan. For each area of development create action items with deadlines for each. Developing a sales training plan provides the business equivalent of a medical qigong program for general wellness. You have a professional develop the program then guide the sales people through it.
This guidance is your program execution. You may determine that the team needs sales classes or that each individual needs one-on-one training or both.
Provide feedback and watch how each sales person accepts and implements that feedback. Those who ignore their development plan or reject improvement input should be let go.
Publicly recognize talent improvements. Update each person’s strengths and weaknesses. Re-develop your sales development plan. As your team updates its talents, you must update the records of them and their skills to develop.
Organizing and continually updating this sales personnel information accomplishes one of the key best practices of any sales organization. Your metrics should reference how much the employee sells, how much they should be selling and at which appropriate sales techniques and behaviors they currently excel and which need improvement.
Another best practice consists of the periodic update of the sales skill assessments and re-honing of individual coaching and training. Creating a program that identifies sales potential and helps develop it doesn’t just bring improved sales numbers. It creates team improvements that develop better employees who value your organization and want to remain with it.
If you have low sales numbers, you don’t need to scrap your team and start over. You do need to train your team to learn how to sell. You can improve their skills and your sales numbers by investing time and effort into developing each individual’s sales potential.