Did you know that 40% of salespeople cannot understand a customer’s pain? When a customer comes with a problem, sales reps panic and end up giving the first option that comes to their mind, which can prove to be a disaster if their solution addresses a problem which the customer did not even have. There are many factors that salespeople do not control but the failure or success of a sales rep is mostly dependent on the level of preparedness and constant adaptation to the dynamic sales environment.
Being the Founder/Head of Sales of the organization, one question you need to ask yourself constantly is: “Is my sales team well-equipped to cope with the pressure of this dynamic environment?”
How often do you sit with your sales team to evaluate the tools they use? Many companies, especially start-ups, miss the mark when it comes to equipping their sales teams effectively and efficiently.
There are three stages to have a fully equipped sales team:
- Knowledge Sharing
Gone are the days when a phone book and a script were handed over to a new sales rep. These days, more and more organizations understand the importance of on-boarding. It helps new salespeople understand and retain crucial information, making them more effective in their role.
Many organizations have designed a well-planned on-boarding program, which is a critical step towards growth. Sales background does not end at product or solution differentiation but extends to the differentiation between sales professionals.
- The primary goal is to give new hires the right tools and information so they can ramp up quickly and successfully in their new role.
- Formal communication should be in place to inform new hires of what the on-boarding process entails, what the expectations of the organization are at various intervals and how their success will be measured throughout the process.
- The combination of online, instructor-led and field practical training can help in covering information about the company, product, customer, sales role and tools.
- Consider incorporating formal mentoring and/or coaching programs into the salesperson on-boarding process in order to provide ongoing support and guidance. These programs allow for a deeper focus on developing key sales skills and competencies in a personal, non-intimidating manner.
By the end of an on-boarding program a sales rep should have answers to the following questions:
What to Sell:
- What is the product(s)/service(s) and how is it different from your competitors?
- How does your product(s)/service(s) satisfy a customer’s need and what is its value proposition
How to Sell:
- How are leads generated?
- Is there a marketing team that supports or do they have to prospect for themselves?
- Is there any CRM systems integrated? If yes, then how do they make use of them?
There are software programs such as Brainshark or Seismic that can help achieve a better on-boarding process for new sales reps.
In order to have a more reformed system in place to retain and share knowledge and potentially decrease employee turnover, companies can make use of software available in the market such as KnoBis.
When an employee leaves an organization, he also takes away knowledge with him, causing loss of manpower as well as knowledge. With the help of a knowledge management system, one can create and access knowledge in the form of articles, videos and much more.
- Push knowledge (delivering specific information to a targeted audience) is very different from broadcast knowledge (posting something socially, hoping the right people find it). Both push and social sharing are important. Pushing crisp information to sales reps ensures they know the plan, criteria and goals for success.
- When publishing and pushing knowledge into an organization it’s critical that it is targeted at the right group. For example: if you’re publishing a tool guide for the North American sales team, don’t confuse or waste time by putting it in front of the South American sales team. Creating an effective way to target workplace teams, locations and employee types is key.
- For bridging the silo problem, invite people from all disciplines (including sales, in-house customers, quality regulator, support, etc.) and together internalize why the project is getting underway, what the requirements are and any alternative approaches that could be considered.
- When a sales rep is stuck somewhere and needs help, make guidance and content easy to find. It’s best to have an organization-wide, complete search that finds people, teams and content readily available to everyone.
- Integrating a knowledge management system with a CRM can help in approaching customers and their queries in an efficient and effective manner.
- Knowledge management systems allow team members to share relevant knowledge, content and documents. They also ensure that everyone has the latest and greatest information, remove redundancy, prevent “reinvention of the wheel” and at the same time give management complete control on who is able to access what.
- Simple knowledge design lined up with existing systems and an artificial intelligence engine can help you stock significant and useful knowledge for the employees.
- Strong analytics that provide information on what people are looking for allow sales reps to reach their target customers more effectively.
In order to remain a strong competitor and have happy customers, one must acquire feedback. 96% of customers usually don’t complain and 91% simply choose never to do business again. With the help of ClientHeartbeat or SurveyMonkey, one can collect customer feedback via e-mail, social media channels, etc. allowing you to get to know a customer over time.
Feedback from Customers:
- Social media can prove particularly useful for gathering candid feedback from customers. This method is called “social listening” because direct comments or mentions on social networks aren’t the only way for your business to get responses.
- Conducting usability tests while giving trial access can uncover potential problems. This test can help in gaining a deeper insight into what the customer is thinking or struggling with, which can be used by sales reps to improve their pitch for the next trial provided.
- Directly reaching out to the customer for feedback can be beneficial. By asking open-ended questions sales reps can gather valuable feedback on how the customer is using and liking the product.
Feedback from Management:
- Managers should have KPIs ready and mutually agreed upon with sales reps, before they are placed in their role. And in sync with that there should be a monthly or quarterly meeting to discuss those KPIs.
- After analyzing the performance gap, managers should engage in open and supportive discussions. As a starting point, sharing what they have observed and then providing an opportunity for the sales rep to respond and ensure there is an agreement on the performance gap can be beneficial.
Feedback within the Team:
- Discussion forums or Q&A sessions can be set up where sales reps and managers discuss openly what kinds of training and support they need from each other.
- Recording conversations with customers and then analyzing them on a one-on-one basis provides a deeper understanding of what is working and what is not.
- Measuring and tracking customer usability behavior over time helps in tailoring a successful sales pitch.
- It’s important to identify unhappy customers based on feedback and take action accordingly in order to prevent them from cancelling or leaving.
- Once a feedback form is set up, then it can be turned into an autopilot program.
These are very simple steps towards achieving the gap that we tend to miss out on from time to time. Having an approach which includes these three steps towards building and equipping the sales team can help spread out the workload, allowing your team to complete tasks more efficiently, build better customer relationships and increase in quality of leads.
Meet the Author
Trishla Tyagi is an inbound marketer with KnoBis in Gurugram, India. She received her certification in Strategic Marketing from the Imperial College Business School in London.