By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

COVID-19 has changed everything – including how sales happen and how buyers make purchases. 

The job of enterprise Sales Managers has become tougher during the pandemic. With travel restrictions and strict lockdown norms, they are unable to meet their prospects and customers in person. The rules of customer engagement and client interactions have gone through a phenomenal change. 

It is apparent that the skills and drive the sales teams will need in the future are fundamentally different.

Therefore, it will be the organizations’ responsibility to provide mentoring and coaching to their sales teams to help them navigate these tough times. Organizations will need to foster trust, honesty, drive, enthusiasm, empathy, creativity, and positivity in the team. 

Studies have shown that companies with dynamic sales coaching programs achieve 28% higher win rates. Effective sales coaching programs can improve sales reps’ performance by up to 20%. And firms that provide an optimal amount of coaching see an approximately 17% increase in their annual revenues. 

Undoubtedly, coaching and mentoring can help sales teams hit or exceed their quota and create a positive impact on business growth. 

Unlike sales training sessions, which happen periodically and are many a time standard for all sales team members, the one-size-fits-all approach does not work for mentoring and coaching. 

Since each sales rep has different skills, motivations, abilities, and qualities, it makes sense to make the coaching programs highly personalized. Only then can they be useful for the sales reps and help them succeed and reach their sales goals. 

Let’s look at the key characteristics of highly successful coaching and mentoring interactions – 

Highly Contextual

Many organizations spend a lot of time in sales enablement without thinking about incorporating context. Even if the content is good, without the context, it is of little use. To create value, for every situation, sales coaches need to understand the complete context from their sales reps such as buyer persona, use cases, priorities, sales stage, interest in product, competitive landscape, the experience of the sales pro of working in a similar situation, etc. Without such information, it is hard for the sales coaches to offer actionable insights and guidance. 

Power Skill Development 

In today’s uncertain world, power skills have become extremely important because salespeople today need to change their sales approach and tilt it more towards relationship development. These include skills such as empathy, emotional intelligence to understand what others are feeling and adapt accordingly, active listening, confidence, flexibility, optimism, and integrity. Obviously, the power skills cannot be attained in one day or through one training session. Sales coaching is an effective way to help sales reps develop new skills and help them meaningfully engage with the customers. Coaching programs that enable the development of power skills can create a more long-lasting impact. 

Continuous Motivation and Appreciation 

Unlike training, coaching and mentoring interactions are not about feeding chunks of information to the sales reps. The coaches should also provide them with the much-needed motivation to succeed. There should be an appreciation and motivation model in place while mentoring each member of the team, where they will be appreciated for every little progress they make and motivated to achieve larger goals. It needs to be an ongoing process to ensure maximum efficiency in closing big deals and developing a better relationship with the customers. 

Rapport Development with Team Members and Managers 

Sales happens through teamwork and is not an individual process. Every sales rep should have a good rapport with his/her fellow team members and managers to increase team efficiency and productivity. The coaches need to understand that each salesperson will have a different personality, management style, and coaching preferences. By considering every individual’s selling style, strengths, and weaknesses, coaches can define a unique strategy to help the team members foster transparency, increase collaboration, build mutual trust among team members, manage interpersonal differences, and pave the way for team success.

Also Read: Are You Coaching Your Sales Managers to be the Sales Leaders?

Consultative Approach to Selling 

Cold selling is a thing of the past.  90% of decision-makers “never” respond to cold calls!

Clearly, times have changed. The traditional ways of making the sales pitch and selling have undergone fundamental changes. While interacting with the sales teams, today’s informed, hyper-connected customers are looking for expert advice and solutions to their problems. They are looking for options to improve their business, finding answers to their questions, and seeking out advice before making the final decision. They are not interested in listening to “sales pitches”.

Sales coaching interactions need to help sales reps in doing a proper analysis, strategic planning and by defining personalized approaches to hold meaningful and relevant conversations with potential customers and earn their trust. 

Wrapping it up

The need for strategic leadership and coaching has never been more critical. 

But the age-old sales training and coaching methods can no longer be effective. Today, organizations need to leverage the power of AL and ML and take a more skills data-driven approach to sales coaching. 

NumlyEngage™ offers a skills data-driven model, leveraged by AI & ML, to help organizations kick start their sales coaching initiatives in a matter of a few days. It captures the many nuances of sales coaching to help sales teams sell fast and win big!

Get a demo today! 

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

COVID-19 has been a challenging time for salespeople. The social distancing norms have compelled the teams to stay at home and interact with prospects online instead of having a face-to-face conversation. This makes it more difficult for them to close deals. Challenges in closing deals are not exactly new for salespeople. However, given the current situation, it could add a real strain to the spirits of the team. 

In times like these, sales coaching comes to rescue.

It helps to boost the team’s morale and keep them engaged. 

Unlike sales training programs where the teams are trained on how to sell a product or service, sales coaching takes a more personalized approach towards a holistic development. 

Through sales coaching, organizations can identify the gaps in each salesperson and try to provide a custom-made solution to fix it and help them grow. Think of it as a mentor-mentee relation where the end goal is to nurture the person and not necessarily only sell more products.

So, what can companies do to keep the teams motivated and engaged?

Assess the team’s strength and weakness

Every salesperson is different. Some may be extremely confident; some may be anxious while pitching. A one-size-fits-all approach would not work in such cases. The sales coach has to assess each person individually to find their strength and weakness. To remove prejudices or assumptions during an evaluation, coaches can use AI-based tools to measure the team’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Numly™, for instance, provides a 16-personality factor self-evaluation that measures the strengths and weaknesses of a person’s personality traits. It offers accurate insights that help the coach find areas of improvement for each salesperson and coach them accordingly.

Provide personalized feedback

Based on the assessment, the coach can formulate a detailed and personalized feedback to guide the salesperson effectively. Giving feedback cannot be a one-off activity. It is a continuous process that leads to a journey of holistic development. 

Coaches can leverage tools to make this a productive process. For example, Numly offers organizations with custom engagement tools that identify skills gaps in each salesperson and pairs them internally with a coach. The coach helps the salesperson to meet their goals using various methods such as self-scoring, peer-rating, and continuous feedback.  

Develop new skills

The modern-day customer is well-informed. A cold call or aggressive sales pitch can no longer persuade them to buy a product. They have to be educated, informed, and provided with relevant content so that they can trust the company. 

Salespeople cannot just pick the phone and start pitching. They must develop a different approach to build a long-term relationship with the customer. It has become even more critical now, as COVID-19 has led to an economic meltdown across the globe. Salespeople will have to become more empathetic instead of pushy to gain the prospect’s trust. Such skills cannot be attained overnight. Only a sales coach can help the team to develop new skills, and catch up with customer needs, and their way of engaging with the company. A personalized sales coaching program will eventually help the sales team to do their job better. 

Change the behavior

Behavior, like new skills, cannot be improved in a day. It is an ongoing effort, wherein, the sales coach identifies a positive behavior and reinforces it to bring in a change within the person. So, it could be encouraging an introvert to open up and communicate more with the customers or coaching someone to listen more and talk less. A positive change will help the sales team to perform better and deliver better results. 

Build a strong relationship

Sales is all about building a strong relationship – not just with the customer, but also with other stakeholders such as the marketing team, the product team, etc. To create a positive and harmonious relationship, the sales team can take guidance from sales coaches. They can learn how to develop a relationship with internal and external stakeholders and use it to build goodwill for the company and themselves. A good sales team knows how to keep everyone happy and achieve their goals. 

Conclusion 

Sales is less about selling a product, and more about the process of doing it. A successful salesperson possesses the right power skills. They don’t sell; they build relationships. 

Power skills are a combination of science and arts. With the right tools and accurate data, companies can help their sales teams to improve these skills and build a roadmap to a successful sales career. 

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

“Success is never owned. It is rented. And the rent is due every day”.  

Perhaps no other department in today’s enterprise has to live this quote like the 

 sales department. With the key responsibility of getting the money rolling and driving the business, the sales team has to revise, revamp, and relook at their sales strategies to remain agile in the face of constant change. 

But growing a high-powered sales team today is a challenging exercise for most organizations. With the age-old sales formulas dying out and the consumer becoming more enabled and empowered than ever before, the sales teams are feeling the pressure to up their game. 

Today, the customer is 57% into the purchasing decision before they even engage with a sales team. This shows that the time of the proverbial ‘sales pitch’ is over. What the customer is looking for when they engage with your sales team is knowledge, and an access to a trustworthy expert who can confirm their buying decision by logically clarifying their doubts while giving them the best possible buying experience. The focus of the customer is now on ‘value’ more than on ‘pitches’. 

Thus, building a strong sales team to grow a business is the smartest thing to do. It is also one of the hardest things to do. 

Here are a few things that organizations can do to grow high-powered and strong sales teams.

Talent matters – make sure to get the right fit 

The desire to build a strong sales team is great, but are you relying solely on your gut feeling to drive the hiring process? Organizations leveraging the proverbial gut feel to make hiring decisions often falter in their intention because of a few reasons. A gut feeling cannot be quantified and, hence, it is not scalable so, as a process, this fails. Secondly, not everyone might have the same feeling. So how will you make a hiring decision if the collective instinct does not comply? 

Since sales is both a collaborative and an individual job role, it demands a certain kind of hire – one who can work with a team but can also contribute independently. Drawing up a list of criteria that can correlate with the success in the sales role then serves to be a much more quantifiable and scalable process. This makes sure that the salesperson the organization hires is the closest fit to these characteristics that are correlated to sales success. 

Elements such as prior success rates, coachability, intelligence, work ethics, drive, and motivation can fit into this list and can make sure that each individual is the right fit for your organization. 

Power skills lead the way

Selling is no longer all about cold calls and emails. And it has gone beyond slick smooth-talking. Today a successful salesperson is one who can capably amalgamate product knowledge with a high plethora of power skills to crack a deal.

When building a sales team, it is essential to look for people with power skills. Skills such as communication, teamwork, empathy, positivity, trust, and honesty are essential to developing in all salespeople to grow a strong sales team. 

Equally important is a high EQ (emotional quotient), the instinctive capability to feel and understand a customer pain point and give the best possible solution for it. This job also needs people to be highly driven and adaptable, creative, and great collaborators so that complex problems can be solved easily. This approach of being solution-driven helps to solve customer challenges and problems with confidence and ease and, consequently, drives up the revenue.  

Motivation matters 

“Success lies in walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

Sales is a challenging job role. For every success, there is a herculean amount of effort. The assault on patience is relentless. Failure is a very real possibility until the final sign on the dotted line. Dejection and disappointments are an integral part of the life of any salesperson. But what makes a successful sales team stand out is how motivated is the team through this journey of highs and lows. 

To build a strong sales team, organizations have to ensure that their salespeople never lose focus and can constantly stay self-motivated. This comes from becoming more self-aware, knowing their strengths and weaknesses, and what they need to do to grow in their roles. Giving them access to behavioral skills analysis tests or 16 personality factor assessments is a good way to give them clarity on their improvement areas, appreciate the skills they have, and help them excel in their job roles. 

Deep product knowledge 

Having clear, precise, in-depth, and detailed product knowledge is essential for every sales team. Having clarity around product differentiations, updated product knowledge, and a clear idea of how the product can solve different challenges in the context of the customer are essential skills to have. 

For developing a strong sales team, organizations have to work in a focused manner to increase and improve the knowledge repository of all their salespeople. Having an online information repository to enable self-service, detailed product onboarding plans, and regular training and development sessions on product information, contribute to the success of this process. 

Provide strategic leadership and coaching 

One of the most important pieces in the jigsaw of a powerful sales team is that of strategic leadership and coaching. While individual ambition is essential for closing a sale, the focus of the sales team has to be for the business to grow. It also involves having highly focused sales managers who not only keep an eye on the sales figures but also on the developmental health of their sales team. 

Identifying the high-potential salespeople, charting out their career path, and helping them connect with the right mentors all contribute to developing strong salespeople who go on to first fill the sales pipeline and then consequently fill the leadership pipeline. 

Mentoring and coaching play a big role in developing strong sales teams. This is primarily because 

  • Sales success not only depends on knowing the product but involves the use of certain power skills to map implied and explicit needs of the potential client. 
  • It involves determining how business needs will evolve and grow. 
  • It is about becoming more intuitive towards identifying needs and possible avenues for sales. 

All these traits and many others are the trademarks of great salespeople. They  are essentially power skills – skills that take time to develop as they need constant reaffirming. So, what are you doing to help your salespeople become your sales superstars? 

NumlyEngage™ offers a skills data-driven model, leveraged by AI & ML, to help organizations kick start their sales coaching initiatives in a matter of a few days. It captures the many nuances of sales coaching to help sales teams sell fast and win big! Get a demo today

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