There are some sales teams that seem to operate like a well-oiled machine. They consistently crush their goals month after month, bringing in one major deal after another. But what is that X factor that makes the difference for them?
Successful sales teams don’t just sell effectively, nail the pitch, and know the product inside and out. They also develop specialized skills that give them an edge over the competition and are supported by an organization that sees them as more than just sales reps.
Here are 4 things successful sales teams have in common and tips on how to develop these areas across your team.
#1. Active listening
Active listening requires reps to completely and fully concentrate and digest what the speaker is saying before responding, or even formulating a response. Brainshark’s chief readiness officer, Jim Ninivaggi states, “Active listening is becoming a lost art; but it’s the backbone of any consultative or value-based selling style.”
Help reps master this skill through video coaching and roleplaying. In your roleplay, act as the buyer and coach your reps to ask the right questions as you discuss your business challenges. Your reps should be able to repeat those challenges back to you and make actionable suggestions.
#2. Commitment to rep growth and development
The average cost of replacing a B2B sales rep is $115,000, according to Forbes Insights. Jim says, “sales enablement leaders have to put as much emphasis on retention as they do on onboarding.” Show reps that you are committed to their growth from day one – from onboarding to continuous training and coaching.
But helping reps develop goes beyond training – successful sales organizations help reps grow as professionals in their careers too. Offer continuous learning and assessment paths that reps can follow to get to the next step in their career, whether that’s another role in sales or across your company, and make this assessment path part of their continuous training program. For example, if your rep is looking to become a sales manager, include training on leadership skills or a new competency that will help them get to that next step.
#3. Culture of feedback
“Practice makes permanent, without feedback,” said Iron Mountain’s vice president of sales enablement, Kevin Starner. In other words, if reps keep practicing their pitch the same way without any feedback, then they’ll continue to do it that way. Successful sales teams regularly practicing giving and receiving constructive, performance-based feedback. For example, if a sales manager recognizes that Johnny is getting tripped up on the same objection over and over again, the manager should provide him with the right direction to improve his response during future interactions.
Recreate the scenario using roleplaying and coach Johnny through the right way to respond to the buyer. Reiterate how he handled the situation, how he should handle it in the future, and why he should handle it that way. Then assign him a relevant training on objection handling. After training, Johnny should be able to pass an assessment, showing he’s mastered the material.
Don’t just focus on manager-to-rep feedback. Sales reps can coach each other as well by providing feedback to each other on video coaching submissions or viewing examples of what good looks like.
#4. Sales manager enablement
Effective sales teams don’t just have great sales reps – they also have strong sales managers supporting them every step of the way. Aside from the day-to-day management of reps, sales managers also need solid leadership skills, but those won’t happen overnight. According to CSO Insights, 41% of firms don’t specifically support sales manager development efforts. This is where successful sales teams stand out – they provide sales managers with onboarding as well as continuous learning just like the rest of their team.
CSO Insights recommends that sales enablement teams focus on three key areas of development for sales managers:
- Customer: This includes selling and business development skills, as well as customer management and engagement. Sales managers have to know these key components to lead by example!
- People: Coaching is the most important aspect of a sales manager’s job – this is an especially important skill for new managers to hone so that they can bring out their team’s full potential.
- Business: This includes funnel management and forecasting skills – businesses depend on these outputs and forecasts to make critical investments and decisions.
Looking to plan a sales kickoff event that will really add value for your team? Download The Ultimate Guide to Sales Kickoff Planning & Readiness.