September 26, 2020

Tips to Fix Your Struggling Sales Team

RefComm Global Virtual Conf

Whether you are a seasoned business development officer, or you are a VP of a sales team, you are always looking for new motivational tools or new habits to instill in your team.

The biggest mistake in your small sales team is they are not aggressive enough. The aggressiveness I’m talking about comes within, and stays within you the entire process. It’s a mindset that starts in the morning and eventually becomes habit. You need to teach them to be aggressive inside and non aggressive on the outside.

The Rusty Gear

The hardest thing for most sales people is that first phone call in the morning. Challenge yourself or your sales team for one week to make a phone call at 8:15 every morning for one week and document the results from that first call in detail.

At the end of the week in your sales meeting ask team members to share those results, then up the anti each week until it just becomes habit. Even if most of those calls are dead ends, hang ups or just too early to get a sale, the point here is to condition that sales guy/gal to get over that morning hump.

Training Your Mind for the 20 Shut Outs

One of the largest issues that most of your younger (and some seasoned) sale professionals have is being turned down or shut out. Although this result is expected, it can lead to a mental and emotional beating that will make any sales rep or business development officer doubt their abilities in the field and start to affect their progress.

This point is where having an aggressive inner attitude like mine comes in handy. Every time I get shut down, I evaluate whether or not that account is worth the chase. If it is, I instantly take the turn down as if I’m being challenged personally without taking it personally. Teach your sales team to work on making this mindset habit.

A Common Road Block

Today you’re going to get turned down or shut out, but it won’t be due to a decision maker (DM) telling you right now isn’t the best time for your product or service. Nope, you’re going to get stopped way before that, because you’re about to meet your new frenemy.

This person will smugly give you the “and you are?” look as she sets her iPhone down like you just disturbed her 9 a.m. Facebook session. Then comes the question “who are you, and what do you need,” and before you can finish telling them, they interrupt with how they will pass your card on and you will get a call.

They might know quite a bit about the company, but they aren’t the DM, so don’t stress it.

First off, do not take getting shut down personally. Gatekeepers most likely get several walk ins a day, from suitcase sales guys to fast-talking street guys, and are burned out on it.

Depending on the size of the company, you will have to deal with several gatekeepers with all different personalities and ways of shutting you down. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and don’t take it personally if they aren’t receptive to you. You will also want to gauge how much knowledge they might have about the company and how you can utilize it.


Switching Gears, and Changing Your Approach

After a while of going door to door, sales people tend to get worn down. Remember to take a pause before entering each business or potential customer and regain your posture.

When you walk in the front office, look around for something to strike up a conversation about other than what you’re selling. In fact, wait until the last minute to tell them why you are there.

Once you have conditioned yourself with this first approach, and you are still getting the boot, then it’s time to change your inner attitude, pull out the big guns and find a way around the desk Nazi.

Here are a few ideas that will help your people do this.

Sharpen Your Pen

Pick up a letterhead paper from your company and write a letter to the DM you want to see. Let them know that all you are asking for is a chance to talk with them and show them what you have to offer. Make sure your information and email are clearly written, and thank them for their time.

The Lateral Move

The thing about gatekeepers is that they are only there to be a filter and run the front of the house, but employees walk past the gate all day long with no filter. Go on LinkedIn or stop into the business and strike up a conversation with an employee, and if possible another sales person from that company.

If you can buy them lunch or get some time with them, then do it. Most of the time, if they like you they will help put you in contact with someone and start your climb up the long ladder.

Persistent Mindset

Being persistent is not a bad thing. I like to show a reason to stop by like “I was on my way to see a client and wanted to say hi, and see if things have opened up,” or “We just signed on a similar company, and I felt I needed to come back and see if you’re still happy with your current provider.”

Also make sure your notes are in order mentally or on paper. Know the front desk attendant’s name and a few things about the attendant and the company. As you start to condition yourself to do this, you will notice a change in your approach and your ability to get through the door. You’ll also notice a change in your attitude and the willingness not to take no for an answer, and soon that personal challenge will become a relationship.

Utilize LinkedIn or Other Social Medias

That’s what it’s there for. First off every business development officer and all the people on your sales team should have a complete LinkedIn account. I’ve connected with several decision makers and have emailed them afterwards depending on what I needed.

First learn about their company and see if there is a need or reason to contact them. You can meet employees the same way. Pick up the phone after you have connected with them and say “Hi, this is Mike Schepper, I’m connected with you on LinkedIn, and I wanted to ask you a few things when you had the time.” If you connect with someone on LinkedIn and reach out to him or her and they don’t respond, then all I can say is, why did they connect with you in the first place? Why are they even on LinkedIn? You’ll get a few people like that; don’t let
it deter you, and keep that aggressive mindset.

Cold Calling and Appointment Setting

Making a few calls setting appointments for the following week is always good practice. When you call, don’t start out with your sales pitch; it is an instant turn off, and the person answering doesn’t need to hear it. Ask for the DM by name, and if they aren’t there then ask what time is a good time to reach them in the next day or two.

Remember to sound confident, and don’t give out any information about who you are unless you have to. Ask for them by first name, and don’t leave messages.

For the Younger Sales Team

  • Practice creating some habits. Your job isn’t easy, and if you don’t train your mind to accept the challenges, keep that aggressive attitude on the inside while keeping a non-aggressive attitude on the outside, you will end up tired and unmotivated.
  • Stop selling a product or service and sell yourself (I know, you’ve heard this before). If your prospect is buying from a competitor, don’t be discouraged. Owners, procurement agents and brokers justify whom they want to buy from and most times it’s relationship and trust that counts.
  • Learn from your peers in the sales team. Watch how other sales people sell. Ask questions, try their approach here and there, and remember the results.
  • Listen to your “ground up” sales managers (people who started where you are now). They didn’t get there by not knowing what they are doing.
  • Find something you believe in about the product or service you are selling. If you can’t, you are just hurting your own potential by being with the wrong company and product.

For Sales Managers

  • Create a small weekly or monthly goal for your team – make it a personal goal, not a company policy. Start small and practice building habits, not demands.
  • Don’t overwhelm them with unrealistic demands. What is currently realistic for a veteran with relationships is not the same for a beginner, and in the end you will frustrate them and lose more than what you could gain.
  • You’ve been a manager, now be a mentor. Sometimes it needs to be about personal growth of your team and not numbers. Take them out once in a while and tell them how much you believe in them and how well they are doing.
  • Never end a sales call with a member of your team on a negative note. They are under enough stress and don’t need their uppers adding to it.
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