Sales Leadership Series:
Research suggests that Sales Leadership is the difference maker between good performance and superior performance. And how sales leaders embrace five essential roles is critical to the success of their teams. We hope you find this series of short informal discussions around sales leadership useful and thought-provoking.
Getting More Out Of the Calls Your Make With Your Producers
Most sales managers, being former high-performing salespeople themselves, are used to following an established plan or strategy going into every sales call. And yet, many of these same men and women routinely jump in and sell when accompanying the salespeople or their staff when they ride along to see clients and prospects.
Why do they manage to get in the way?
In most cases, it’s just a matter of old instincts kicking in. They see the sale or account slipping away (or imagine they do, as sometimes the producer in question just has a different selling style) and decide to jump in. The client, confused by this turn of events, feels like they are being pressured into a close, which drives them even farther away.
As pervasive as the problem is, it can easily be averted by the same tool managers used when they were front-line salespeople – making a plan and sticking to it. Here is the three part process we recommend for getting more out of the calls you make with your salespeople:
Pre-call briefing. Before you leave the office, or on the drive over, go over the objective of the call with the salesperson. Are you there to find out more, get an order, or do something completely different? Make sure that you are both clear on what needs to be accomplished, as well as any areas or topics you might be concerned about. Also make it clear that you are there simply to observe and pay attention, and will only step in if you are asked. This takes some of the pressure off a salesperson, and leaves them free to take control of the sale.
Observe the call. Here comes the hard part: you have to let your salesperson do his or her job. It can be tempting, when you see things going wrong, to jump in and take over. But while that lets the salesperson see you in action, it doesn’t do a lot for their own development. Because you aren’t going to be with them every time, and because the goal of the call is to see how they are doing with their sales, give them the space to work.
Post-call debrief. Once the sales call is ended, it’s your chance to review what happened with the salesperson. One important piece of advice is to make sure you ask them to debrief the call first, before you give your feedback. As you do so, emphasize the positives, especially up front. Not only does everyone like to get a little bit of encouragement and a nice pat on the back, it also sets a good pattern for the future. If you are constantly in the habit of criticizing your salespeople the moment after you’ve left the call, they’ll come to dread leaving the office with you and make excuses for you to not come along. In order for it to be a good learning experience, you need to highlight the things you were pleased to see.
You wouldn’t go into a sale without having a good plan in place, so don’t ride along with one of your salespeople without one, either. Sales call planning is a great way to keep your appointment on track and get the most out of the time you spend with your producers.
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