Sales leaders can instill values to increase sales performance, improve customer relationships, and give salespeople rewarding selling experiences. In the next few posts I will list examples of values to achieve this.
Value #1: The customer’s buying performance is more important than the salesperson’s selling performance.
Adopting this value helps management avoid inadvertently distracting salespeople and interfering with their performance. The conversation between salesperson and customer is where the rubber meets the road for getting a sale. Management doesn’t want salespeople to be distracted during this interaction. Salespeople need first to learn their customer’s language, since salespeople can’t speak their customer’s language without learning what that language is.
It’s useful for salespeople to do their research and have a plan. However, salespeople need to understand that any pre-devised plan is just theoretical. As they converse with clients, salespeople learn which elements of their plan were accurate and which elements should be discarded.
The last thing sales leadership wants is to inadvertently be a source of distraction. Some examples of potentially distracting activities are: instructing salespeople to recite pre-arranged statements they learned during training, aggressive sales goals, and training salespeople to keep conversations restricted to a narrow path.
We perform by learning, we learn by observing, we observe by focusing attention and eliminating distractions. This is a basic principle of performance coaching that’s very applicable to sales performance. Salespeople need to learn about as many aspects of their customer’s decision process as possible. This is why I wrote my book in story form. I wanted salespeople to absorb how our learning emerges out of listening to conversations.
Adopting a value prioritizing buying performance would also change the way sales leaders counsel underperforming salespeople. A typical counseling session consists of sales leaders asking underperforming salespeople what they will be doing more of, less of, or differently. I am proposing a much different type of counseling session. These conversations need to consist of questions revolving around the customer’s decision making. Why not ask underperforming salespeople-
- What’s your customer’s thought process when they decide not to buy”?
- What’s your customer’s thought process when they don’t buy our product in spite of the fact that they would benefit from it greatly?
- Why aren’t these customers deciding to do what would be in their own best interest”?
These questions focus salespeople’s attention to the place where it needs to go most. Sales leadership should redirect their salesperson’s focus to the customer’s decision process. Engaging with a sales force in this way, results in a more responsive, interested and ultimately much more productive sales force.