February 21, 2011

Equipping Sales Fighters With the Right Sales Weapons & Coaching to Proficiency

I’m on a simplicity crusade. Why? Because so many under-performers over-complicate the new business development process. Some do it because they honestly don’t know any better – they’ve never really had to hunt for new business or it’s never been modeled for them. They think it’s supposed to be hard and complicated so they make it that way. Others who are failing try to make it seem complicated as a smokescreen. They hide behind the complexity they’ve created hoping to avoid being held personally accountable.

I’ve never met a top-performing new business development salesperson who described what he/she does as complicated. Top sales hunters have great clarity about the job, keep it very simple, and are usually happy to share the very straight-forward way they execute the fundamentals.

Recently I’ve offered a simplified look at the sales manager’s job and focused on the need to get the right people in the right roles. Now I want to dig into equipping sales hunters with the weapons needed to effectively execute a new business attack.

I like to view the sales team as a squadron of highly talented fighter pilots. The Mission: Acquire enough new pieces of business or new accounts to exceed Sales Goals! This is accomplished by executing a new business development attack against a strategically-selected, defined, focused and finite list of Target Prospects. Once we have clarity on the targets each of our pilots is assigned, it is critical to ensure…

  1. Their fighters are equipped with the necessary Weapons to complete the mission successfully, and
  2. Our fighter pilot/sales killers are proficient at using those Weapons

A sampling of the most essential basic Sales Weapons:

  • The Sales Story
  • Proactive Telephone, Voicemail, Email Outlines
  • The Initial Sales Call (structure)
  • Probing Skills  (pain & opportunity seeking questions)
  • Presentations
  • Case Studies / Client Success Stories
  • Proposals

Sure, there are lots more. But these are the essentials. The Sales Story is first because I believe it’s the most critical and certainly the most used. Elements of the story are woven through all the other weapons, so it’s imperative that sales fighter pilots have the story nailed.

Questions to ponder:

Sales Leaders:  As your sales fighters take flight, are they crystal clear on the targets they’re attacking? Are their planes loaded with a complete arsenal of weapons to launch at those targets? How much initial and refresher coaching/training is dedicated to proficient use of sales weapons? If sales hunters are not succeeding, is a likely cause that they’re not competent at firing the most basic of sales weapons?

Sales Hunters:  Have you taken inventory of all the sales weapons in your arsenal? Before heading out to attack your targets, have you made practice runs to raise your skill level? If your kill-rate isn’t what it should be, could you improve your proficiency by reading, studying others or seeking coaching from your leader or more experienced sales fighters?