Some surveys indicate that sales reps add value to the customer conversation only 20% of the time, that means only once in five meetings! That is pathetically low coming at a time when buyers have heightened expectations, refusing to engage with reps until they have completed 70% of the buying journey, giving reps very little time to make a difference. In the digitally evolved marketplace, where information is at buyers’ fingertips, there is just no room for second impressions. Reps have to be great out of the gate.
But every sales leader knows that not all reps are great. If you map all the sales talent out there, it would form a Bell curve in a 20-60-20 ratio, with 20% of reps being “A” reps who bag every deal and can do no wrong, 60% being “B” reps who get deals once in a while, and the remaining 20% being “C” reps who never win deals. If you want to truly sell more, faster, you have got to increase the number of “A” reps and “A” rep experiences by encouraging and equipping “B” reps to sell like “A”s. To do that, you have to understand the building blocks of an “A” rep and focus your investments there.
So what are the fundamental building blocks of a great “A” rep? I always think of selling as a competitive sport, where there is one clear winner and lots of losers. No great basketball player ever made it without 200% motivation. You have to wake up in the morning thinking, I will win this game. But just motivation won’t cut it in sales. You’ve got to have all three of these fundamental pieces in place:
- Motivation – to make that extra call, send that extra email
- Skills & Knowledge – skills to persuade and build consensus, product & customer knowledge, industry knowledge
- Enablement Tools – access to collateral, clear understanding of pricing and configuration, visibility into customers’ needs and interests
Not all these traits are innate as Edward Kellog Strong, Jr. said in his seminal work The Psychology of Selling and Advertisement and much can be taught. And the onus falls on organizations to train, coach, and equip reps with the best of breed tools, processes, and technologies.
For instance, organizations can motivate reps with incentives and gamification, which tap into their competitive streak. Polish sales skills and knowledge with a formal coaching platform and learning tools that support mobility so learning is possible even outside the classroom. A coaching platform can help uncover the top selling behaviors in “A” players and help identify gaps and deficiencies in lesser players. Marketing automation combined with sales enablement delivers unprecedented real-time lead intelligence and mobile-friendly content assets, available on tap. Throw in Configure Price Quote and reps can whip up quotes and proposals on the spot even from their iPhone. With these tools in their arsenal, reps never have to say, “I’ll get back to you,” to the customer. They can address every customer need, then and there.
Together, these tools constitute our Lead to Money suite, the shotgun that makes the DNA of an “A” rep. Alternately, you could pour money into training or plan an extravagant President’s Club but that would be just a half-measure.
Tell me what do you do to make good reps great? Write back in the comments sections.