“When your sales strategy depends on scripts rather than relationships and communications, any challenge or economic change can quickly become a crisis.”
~ Chandell Labbozzetta
When your sales team and management focuses on tactics rather than strategy, you start to see the onset of what I call “Sales Sclerosis” or a hardening of the sales arteries.
Just as hardening of the arteries in your body is indicated by specific health problems – and can kill you if you ignore it – so the hardening arteries in your sales training and sales systems can be seen from some subtle indicators, long before they actually kill your lead flow.
When I was called to diagnose and cure the sales woes of a major Australian recruiting company they were already seeing their new sales decline and struggling to keep existing clients in a changing employment economy.
It turned out that the sales team had all been put through a highly tactical-focused sales training by a well-known company and they had all been told to “follow the script, or else!” Even the sales manager had been seduced buy the reputation of this company and, as sales started to slow and client retention slipped the advice was, “Just keep doing this, you’re learning and these are typical learner struggles.”
It wasn’t until the results for the second consecutive quarter showed a worrying decline that they started to doubt the sales process because, of course, ‘the pandemic changed everything.’ The truth is, that it didn’t really change everything, it just caused some disruption in an economy that had been quite stale for some years. This kind of disruption is part of life, so it should be part of your business philosophy as well.
If you’re trying to hire a sales trainer, there’s one question you need to get an answer to: “Are you teaching a fixed sales methodology?” If they say, “Yes, that’s the fastest way to increase sales conversion rate;” you should realise that it’s also very limiting. The answer you are looking for is: “No, we teach an empowering mindset and flexible tools so you can sell anything to anyone.”
Like so many other areas of life, building a successful sales team that delivers results in-season and out-of-season starts with your philosophy of sales. It is far, far easier to teach sales using a fixed script and system… and that method can be effective in specific economic scenarios, BUT there is a glaring problem with this approach: when the economy shifts or the perception of the economy shifts, the methodology stops working and your sales team is stuck with a tool that no longer works.
That is what happened to the recruiting company I mentioned before. The team had been taught a methodology and told to use it no matter what! There were even penalties applied if they were found to have deviated from the script – and of course, as soon as sales calls were shifted to online, recording them became painless. Instead of being tools to help them achieve results, the changing climate turned this methodology into a trap that stopped them making sales.
That’s why I am absolutely opposed to sales trainers that remove autonomy, judgement, and personal development from the sales equation. Techniques and tactics are useful, but the most skilled sales people (those who consistently deliver outstanding results) also hone their communication, judgement, and personal skills so that they have the flexibility to analyse any situation and determine whether the problem lies in the solution they are offering or in the sales presentation they are making.
Too many sales people are taught that there is only one way to sell a particular item. That was what had happened in this team, even though several of them had been selling fairly successfully for some years.
When I started working with this team, one of the members was ready to quit. He had simply got sick of being forced into an uncomfortable methodology. His sales numbers had been fine at first, so he had ignored the sense of discomfort, but as his results dropped he really started to hate his job and complained that is was dull, he hated the constant rejection, and team meetings were simply miserable.
His numbers didn’t change right away, but as soon as he was given the tools to read his audience, the freedom to respond to his judgement, and the confidence to determine the root of both rejection and acceptance, his attitude changed. He started to look forward to his sales calls again. Six months later, he had developed his own style of sales that was incredibly flexible and effective and the team had started turning to him to resolve tricky sales situations where the clients’ need was evident, but they were struggling to see the value.
A resilient sales strategy is one that works in every economy. You can identify people who have learned a resilient sales strategy by their confidence, strong communication skills, and flexible thinking. Often, these people aren’t your typical extroverted personalities – they can even be quiet and reserved – which just makes their sales presentation and follow up even more authentic and persuasive.
A resilient sales strategy is a lifelong skill because it can be transferred to any context and media: one-to-many, one-to-one, TV, face-to-face meetings, life audiences, virtual meetings and it results in positive outcomes for (almost) everyone involved.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to develop a resilient sales strategy for your or your team, go to https://3sales.me/morecc to discover more.
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