Sales reps tend to have a comfort zone. It’s not uncommon to have successful reps who are GREAT at selling to a specific role about a specific challenge that they are familiar with. Where they run into problems is if they have to move out of their comfort zone to sell to different people, in different industries, or with different challenges.
It’s an entirely different ball game. And you might assume that because a rep is really great in their comfort zone, it’s going to translate outside the zone.
So, how do you get reps to effectively sell outside of their comfort zone?
You don’t. What you need to do is broaden their comfort zone, and that takes time and effort. This starts at the intersection of knowledge and behavior. It’s where it becomes obvious how important it is to not just acquire knowledge, but be able to actually apply it. And even that is not enough.
You have to help the rep build a new selling “muscle memory.” That takes practice and repetition until the rep is comfortable, confident, and competent in a new type of selling situation.
Here are some guidelines for pushing a rep outside of their comfort zone:
Determine the rep’s comfort zone—what is it?
Where do you want to move them to? What’s the new zone? Be specific!
What do they need to know to bridge that gap? It doesn’t stop at products or personas. They need to know how to execute – have a meeting, send out emails, have a call or leave a voice mail.
Set incremental goals – don’t expect even your best reps to be comfortable in a new selling situation overnight.
Give reps opportunities to practice and demonstrate new knowledge and skills.
Make sure that frontline managers have what they need to coach reps to new behavior and KPIs to track progress
Make it real—in addition to training and role play, reps need to actually execute in the field and change their muscle memory to be comfortable in the new zone.
This is what sales readiness is about: understanding reps’ comfort zone and moving the needle through practice, coaching, and repetition in the field so that they can be successful at a new level.
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