Try these: a two-step success story.
Dave Watt is the sales leader at General Plastics in Tacoma. First of all, you should understand that GP is a sales-focused company. All companies are sales-driven (“Nothing happens until the sale is made”), the rare ones are sales-focused. The entire leadership team participates in every aspect of selling. The Chief, HR, Marketing and other leaders attend and contribute at every weekly sales meeting. GP is mastering Sales Collaboration – sharing ideas about how to approach both rare and mundane sales situations. They are a team in the truest sense of the word. Their highly-competitive salespeople generously share ideas that will help others on the team succeed.
Dave has his team using a one-two punch.
Punch One: Collaborative In-House Coaching
Improve your skills while keeping your current abilities sharp. He calls it intra-team coaching; I call it DIY In-House Training. Whatever you call it, it works! According to Dave, it helps with focus – one of the most significant aspects of sales. At any given moment, a sales professional will have multiple opportunities running in their minds with multiple approaches for making each opportunity successful. If an EEG was attached to their heads, it would probably start smoking! That’s what sales is really all about.
Use intra-team coaching to help your salespeople (or any other team) stay focused:
- Pick a topic
- Find the content (article, YouTube, etc.)
- Have everyone on the team review it
- Have a team discussion (working lunch?) with a team member facilitating
- What did we learn we can use?
- What will we do differently?
- What was not useful?
Punch Two: Pre-Call Planning
Re-institute and Reinforce Pre-Call Planning
GP’s Pre-Call Planning has evolved over time so that today the conversations in the sales meeting are less about arithmetic, they are more about analytics. There is no longer an “I did it my way” approach; there is an open sharing of ideas, insights and intelligence.
Sales meetings are attended by as many different leaders as possible. The CEO knows what their market and industry are demanding and he raises the bar for the salespeople. The HR chief knows what types of salespeople are needed for the future – not just today – and is raising the bar for applicants. Marketing continues to raise their own bar to attract new, untapped opportunities. The R&D folks run silent and deep below the surface developing new products and applications that surface when the time is right. Meanwhile they rarely say no to a new request from sales or customers.
How Can You Benefit?
- Collaboration – Ensure that everyone on your team contributes to everyone’s sales success. Collaboration is not complaining or condemnation (“The floggings will continue until attitudes improve”), it is offering yet another weapon for the reps.
- Focus – What else do the salespeople in your organization need to know and what is the best way to deliver the knowledge (Blended Learning)?
- The Right Stuff – Sales success begins with having the right people on the team, and you probably already do. New team members need to be brought on board for what will be happening in the future, not what is happening today. The corporate visionary and every other leader support CQI in sales by raising the bar and then willingly teaching others how to jump over it. Every salesperson acts with the understanding that no team will be better than the weakest player; therefore, publicly and privately they coach each other. In GP’s case, Dave is a player-coach and accompanies other reps on their calls. The CEO is also a player-coach and is willing to step in when chief-to-chief interactions are warranted.
“There are two types of people in the world:
those who know they are in sales and those who don’t.”
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