Let’s face a cold, hard fact: Most humans are lousy at sales. There is a certain confrontational aspect of sales that we are evolved to avoid when possible. The outcome to embracing conflict is often war and death. Someone could get hurt. And that someone is probably going to be us.
Life is full of sales opportunities that we don’t take because of an assortment of reasons. You probably didn’t go out with the first person you wanted to date because you couldn’t work up the courage to ask. You probably didn’t get a better salary offer because you never tried. You have likely missed out on promotions and raises because you never asked for them. Life is sales. The advantage goes to those who know that.
Your salesforce is made up of people who are, for the most part, bad at sales. Sure, they have some of the building blocks of a good sales person. After all, they got the job. What they lack are skills gained from critical sales coaching. We all have some of the basic building blocks. But going from there to being a competent and consistent sales person takes training. Here are some of the things your sales team will need to overcome:
Too Shy and Introverted
It is a longer road to success for the shy introvert than it is for the one who exudes confidence and dominates life. At some point your salesforce is going to have to get over that. As a manager, you have to help them overcome their natural, introvert tendencies.
Introverts like to keep to themselves and not rock the boat. They don’t want to draw attention to themselves by being perceived as contentious. There is an Eastern proverb that says the nail that stands out is the one that gets hammered. No one wants to volunteer to be hammered. There are ways to coax people out of their shell. Your introverts are not lost causes. But they are also not your top sellers. Your first step is to recognize who they are and that how they feel is natural. Teach them a more useful proverb: The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
Too Afraid of Rejection
Fear is an evolutionary advantage that keeps us alive. Sales requires us to push that fear aside to accomplish something greater. If you want to form a stable family unit and have children, you have to find a partner willing to join you in that endeavor. Taking a chance on love is an unavoidable necessity. It requires getting beyond fear.
Train your salesforce to expect and embrace rejection. Just as with a romantic encounter, the end goal is what is important. The goal has to be more important than the process it takes to get there. A good commission structure can help a lot of salespeople get over rejection fears. They can be rejected 90% of the time and still have a good day because the one win was worth it. Make the win worth it and they will go through as many rejections as it takes to get there.
Too Focused on the Wrong Product
Sell the sizzle, not the steak. It is the sizzle that excites the senses. The steak is soon eaten and gone forever. Besides, a person can get a steak anywhere. But only a few restaurants can make that steak exciting. You are not selling a vacation. You are selling a renewal of love and devotion to your partner. You are not selling the spa treatment. You are selling the sensation of being pampered as if you were the center of the universe and its entire purpose for existing, at least for an hour. You are not selling a blender. You are selling healthier living for your family. Train your salesforce on the real product, not the piece of glass and plastic masquerading as the product.
Your salesforce is made up of people who have the potential to improve at their craft. Take them from shy to confident, from afraid to bold, and from product focused to experience focused.