Many customer service and sales teams do a lot of things very well. But sometimes, they lack specific ideas or skills in certain areas to reach their full potential.
Do some members of your sales team spend the majority of their time making sales calls and lack the energy or time to service current customers well? Maybe they are great in customer service but do little to create further leads or manage their territory effectively?
If these are some of the issues or concerns you and your sales team face, we’re here to help! Today we will discuss the critical areas in sales team development that can help you close any gaps that might be holding your team back.
5 Key Areas in Sales Team Development
1. Develop Customers for Life
Does your sales team treat your customers in a way that suggests their commitment to a long-term sales relationship? Doing so involves a high commitment to service quality, but it pays off. It includes looking beyond one customer transaction, one sales quarter, or even one year. So, ask your team, “What small customer follow-ups can we do to develop and create lifetime customers who become advocates of our brand?”
It is rare for a customer to receive a follow-up call, yes, a call, not a generic email. A phone call can keep the relationship going since it is easier to show interest. Questions can be answered immediately and we typically like to talk about ourselves, our families and what is current in our lives. This may be perceived as taking too long, but the time investment is well worth it.
“Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.” – Ken Blanchard
2. Opening the Sales Call
Do you have a sales call script or strategy in place? Although each member of your sales team will have unique abilities and skills, having a consistent sales framework in place increases their likelihood of success. This strategy needs to include rapport-building elements and create a certain future with identifiable next steps for leads.
A sales script is a good start, but remain cognizant that you don’t want to sound like you are reading it. Practice and practice some more so you sound natural and ensure you have the flexibility to venture off track if the conversation requires it. No one has unlimited time, so steer the conversation with your unique ability to drive the conversation back to the topic.
For more on sales, check out this post next: Focusing on the ABMs versus the ABCs of Sales & Why It Matters.
“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.” – Ross Perot
3. What to Ask and How to Listen
Does your team have a strategy for prospect calls or face-to-face meetings? Asking clear and consistent questions and taking the time to listen to the prospects’ needs becomes paramount to providing valuable service. Employ active listening techniques to uncover customer issues and propose appropriate solutions to their challenges.
As the saying goes, we have two ears and one mouth. Listen more than you speak. Learn good questioning techniques such as multiple-choice or open-ended, and do not start asking questions too early. You want to learn everything you can from the customer’s perspective. What are their needs (or wants)?
4. Presenting Solutions, Overcoming Objections, & Closing the Sale
Your team must fully understand the presentation model, including identifying and overcoming objections using effective closing strategies. X5 sales workshops look at individual communication styles and how they can leverage them in prospect meetings and closing situations.
These are three different steps that require three different skills. The solutions present benefits; typically, the features are always the same. For anyone who wants a red car, for example, one cannot argue the colour (feature). The benefit, however, can really depend!
The best way to overcome objections is in advance. Memorize the common objectives for your product or service and be prepared to cover these before they become objections. Do not wait! By then, it is a bigger challenge. Think of an objection as the customer saying, “I need more information.”
Closing the sale requires the ability to ask effective questions. Again, do not ask a simple yes or no question. By now, you should have described the benefits effectively enough that your customer has imagined themselves using your product or service. Ask them where and how they might use them. Get them to imagine. Then ensure your questions are multiple-choice or open-ended to keep the dialogue going.
Not only is listening a beneficial skill in customer service but in leadership too. Click here to read: 5 Tips to Enhance Leadership Through Listening
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton
5. Prospecting and Territory Management
How would you rate your pipeline of profitable customers and sales opportunities within each of the territories your business services? Do you have a territory management strategy?
Once you answer these questions, it’s time to define standards for making contact with prospects. Next, use these consistent techniques for prospecting and qualifying customers moving forward.
Following up with past customers can be a crucial strategy for keeping your pipeline going. Sometimes customers’ needs change, so your product or service is no longer required. But if your relationship is strong, you can benefit from referrals. That can be a strategy in new customer prospecting.
Sometimes we think we don’t need to bother knowing about the competition. Study them closely. There may be opportunities you have not considered, and adding these to your roster may open doors.
Keep analytics of all opportunities to learn from in your regular planning strategies. Pursue what works before implementing unknown initiatives. Save those for later. Most importantly, ask those you have done business with to learn how you can improve and what you can continue doing.
Developing Your Sales Team
Remember: Customer service is the one thing any business can control, 24/7, 365 days a year. Taking the time and attention to strengthen your sales team’s soft skills is critical. Sales team training such as communication, emotional intelligence, and leadership development, is important.
Teamwork is another important consideration, and the stronger the team, the more collaboration and cohesion the team has. That leads to peer-to-peer support, an engaged culture, and a workplace that celebrates progress in addition to accomplishments.
X5 Management has several courses that support workplace culture, enhancing essential skills, sales and customer service, team development, leadership development, and much more. All of these courses are also eligible for the Canada-Alberta Job Grant.