Thursday, June 17, 2010

Improving Your Sales Team's Performance

Sales management facing clients with more self assurance

The famous physicist, Marie Curie, once said: "There is nothing in this world we need fear, if we only understand it!" Fear is the greatest obstacle to success in sales. Many sales people who participate in sales training courses confess to fear. It prevents your salespeople from making visits out of the blue, makes it difficult to visit potential clients and robs salespeople of their self-assurance during negotiations.

There are four steps you can take to make your salespeople overcome their, often only latent, fears:

Gaining self-confidence

Goethe said: "Each individual is a miracle of unknown and unrecognised possibilities". Success primarily depends on whether you believe in it. As sales manager, you should consequently set young or inexperienced sales people goals that they can achieve. Goals, which others have managed to achieve and which are therefore clearly attainable. If a salesperson believes they are capable of attaining a certain goal, they are half way there already.

Acquiring product knowledge

Salespeople who are well informed about their product and its uses, naturally enter sales negotiations with self-confidence. They know they are an able and competent negotiating partner for their clients. When a 23 year old pharmaceutical salesperson visits a doctor, they are not just there to sell the doctor something. They are required to be able to assist the doctor in order to learn better methods of treatment.

Building relationships

All really important business relationships are based on friendship. It is, however, a completely normal defensive mechanism to initially have fear of the unknown. If a salesperson is visiting a client for the first time, their adrenalin instinctively increases. If, on the other hand, they are visiting an 'old friend', they will be perfectly relaxed.

Belief in the product

In order to be able to sell a product, the salesperson must be convinced that the world needs this product. Only a few salespeople have such a vision. Most see their work as purely routine and do not want to create something new with different ideas.

Salespeople without ideas accept their working environment as it is, visionary salespeople, on the other hand, influence their working environment. Successful sales people consider that their product will be useful to the customer, making things easier for them, making them a profit and solving their problems. It is from this 'passion' that the sales force draws the energy and powers of influence that are so essential for sales success. Confidence is a characteristic that is encouraged and supported in sales training courses.

Alongside these four fundamental steps: the following tips should help them overcome their fear of clients:

Children who are afraid of mice, rats or spiders are told that these creatures are far more scared of them than they are. The analogy holds good for selling: clients are afraid of being talked into something, being 'outsmarted' by salespeople and of making decisions that they will later regret. They are afraid of being taken in by some psychological trick or being 'hoodwinked' when it comes to price.

It is the duty of the salesperson to alleviate the client's fears. If they focus on doing this, they will find their own fears disappearing.

Admittedly it is not easy to visit a client out of the blue, without prior notification or an appointment. Experienced salespeople even have a meagre success rate with this difficult task: 1 appointment out of 20 calls or 1 successful conclusion of business out of 5 visits. They also recognize, though, that with every telephone call and every appointment, they are edging that one step closer to the next contract.

A sales professional works out how much money each telephone call or visit brings in, irrespective of whether they are immediately successful or not.

There is always a barrier of reservation and suspect between a customer and a sales person. This wall protects the client from making the wrong decision and makes the work of the salesperson very difficult.

There is a parable about this: the sun and the wind were competing with each other as to which of them had the most power over people. A man wearing a thick coat was walking along the road. The wind said: 'I am so strong that I can blow this man's coat away!' The more the wind blew, however, the tighter the man held his coat to himself. The sun, however, showed the man his warmest and friendliest face, which made him take off his thick coat of his own free will.

Only a customer who eagerly and unquestioningly breaks down the wall of distrust will be a good, long-term customer. The most important motto for success is: 'Just do it!You can really only be victorious by actually doing something. And only successful salespeople overcome their fears and acquire self-confidence. It is with this in mind that a key objective of sales training is to build confidence in sales people.

Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that specialises in running management and sales training courses to improve business performance. Richard provides consultancy advice for numerous world leading companies.

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