It’s a proven fact that 40% of sales people cannot understand a customer’s pain. When a customer comes with a problem, Sales rep panic and end up giving the first option that comes to their mind, which can prove to be a disaster if their answer addresses the problem which the customer did not even have. There are many factors that are not in control but the failure or success of a sales rep is mostly dependant on the level of preparedness and constant adaptation to the dynamic environment.
Being the Founder/Head of Sales of the organization, one question you need to ask yourself constantly “Is your sales team well equipped to cope up with the pressure of the dynamic environment?” How often do you sit with your sales team to evaluate the tools they use? Most of the companies, especially start-ups, miss the point when it comes to equipping your sales team effectively and efficiently. There are three stages to have a fully equipped sales team:
- Knowledge Sharing
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Gone are the days when a phone book and a script was handed over to a new sales rep. These days more and more organizations have understood the importance of onboarding. It helps to understand and retain crucial information, making sale rep more effective in their role. Organizations design a well-planned onboarding program for the sales rep these days which is a critical step towards growth. Sales background does not end at product or solution differentiation but extends to the differentiation between sales professionals.
- The primary goal is to give new hires all the things they need to ramp up quickly and successfully in their new role
- A formal communication should be in place to provide new sales rep hires an awareness of what an onboarding program entails, what are the expectations of the organization at various intervals and how their success will be measured throughout the process. Communications are developed and distributed to new hires through a variety of media and in accordance with different activities designed within that onboarding process
- The combination of online, instructor-led, and field practical training can help in covering knowledge of the company, product, customer, sales role, and tools
- Formal mentoring and/or coaching programs are incorporated into sales new hire onboarding process in order to provide ongoing support and guidance. These programs allow for a deeper focus on developing key sales skills and competencies in a personal, non-intimidating manner
- By the end of an onboarding program a sales rep should have the answers to following questions:
What to Sell:
- What is the product and how they are different from their competitors?
- How their product satisfy a customer’s need and articulate the value proposition?
How to Sell:
- How to generate leads?
- Is there a marketing team that supports or they have to prospect for themselves?
- Is there any CRM integrated? If yes, then how to record an information and make use of it?
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There are software such as Brainshark, Seismic that can help achieve a better onboarding for a sales rep.
- Creating and managing courses which can be taken online, making it convenient and consistent company wide
- Comprehensive tests that are available 24*7
- Free industry basic training courses for managers and sales reps
Companies can rely on Wikipedia for sharing and retaining information. In order to have a more reformed system in place to retain and share knowledge and if they want a decrease in employee turnover ratio, they can make use of software available in the market such as KnoBis. When an employee leaves an organization, he also takes away knowledge with himself, causing loss of manpower as well as the knowledge. With the help of knowledge management system, one can create and access knowledge in form of articles, videos and much more.
- Pushing crisp information to a sales rep, ensuring they know the plans, criteria, and successes. Push (delivering specific information to a targeted audience) is very different from broadcast (post something socially, hoping the right people find it). Both push and social sharing are important
- When publishing and pushing knowledge into an organization it’s critical that it should be targeted at exactly the right group. For example: If you’re publishing a guide tool book for a sales team of North America, don’t confuse or waste time by putting it in front of sales team of South America. Creating an effective way to target workplace teams, locations, and employee types are the key
- For bridging the silo problem, invite people from all disciplines (including sales, in-house customers, quality regulator, support, etc.) and together internalize why the project is getting underway, what the requirements are, and any alternative approaches that could be considered
- When a sales rep is stuck somewhere and needs help, just make it easy. It’s better to have organization-wide, complete search that finds people, teams, and content. Make expertise and content easy to discover, no matter where it’s hiding
- Knowledge management system integrated with CRM can help in approaching customers and their queries in an efficient and effective manner.
- Knowledge management system allows team members to share relevant knowledge, content, and documents. Ensure everyone has the latest and greatest, remove redundancy, prevent “reinvention of the wheel” and at the same time have complete control on who is able to access what
- Simple knowledge design lined up with existing systems and an artificial intelligence engine can help you stock significant and useful knowledge for the employees
- Strong analytics that informs what people are looking for, allowing sales rep to reach their target customers
In order to remain a strong competitor and have happy customers, one must take feedback. 96% of customers usually don’t complain and 91% simply choose never to do business again. With the help of ClientHeartbeat, SurveyMonkey one can collect customer feedback via e-mail, social media channels etc. to know customer over time.
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Feedback from Customers:
- Social media can prove particularly useful for gathering candid feedback from customers. This method is called “social listening” because direct comments or mentions on social networks aren’t the only way for your business to get responses
- Conducting usability tests while giving a trial access to uncover things: customers sometimes don’t know what they are thinking about or struggling with. This test can help in gaining a deep insight of a customer, which can be used by sales rep to improve their pitch for next time when providing a trial of the product
- Directly reaching to the customer after you have pitched in for the product can be beneficial. Sales rep can ask more open-ended questions and fill in the gaps a better way compared to the other forms of feedback
Feedback from Manager:
- Managers should have KPI’S ready and mutually agreed upon by sales rep before they take charge of their role and in sync with that there should be a monthly or quarterly meeting to discuss those KPI’s
- After analyzing the performance gap, a manager should engage in open and supportive discussion. As a starting point, they can tell what they have observed and then provide an opportunity for sales rep to respond and ensure there is an agreement on the performance gap.
Feedback within the Team:
- Discussion forums, Q&A sessions can be set up where sales rep and manager can discuss openly to what kind of training and support they need from each other
- Recording conversations with customers and then analyzing it on a one-o-one basis to have a deep understanding of what is working? and what is not?
- Measuring and tracking customer usability behavior over time allowing to analyze the success of sales pitch
- Helps in identifying unhappy customers based on past scores and take an action accordingly in order to prevent them from canceling or leaving the trial or demo
- Once a feedback form is set up, then it can be turned into an autopilot mode
These are very simple steps towards achieving the gap that we tend to miss out every time. Having an approach which includes these three steps towards building and equipping the sales team can help spread out the workload for your sales team, allowing them to complete tasks more efficiently, build better customer relationships and increase in quality leads.