Industrial Sales

Sales managers! What Are your salespeople doing?

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Have you ever wondered why some of your salespeople are effective, and others are not?

Only when you observe the best and worst in the field can you determine the differences. If your salespeople continually come back without a sale and only an excuse, then you’re at their mercy and have to take them at their word.

Field coaching, however, puts you in a front-row seat. You can observe your salespeople in action and assess their performance firsthand. Only then will you be able to objectively identify their strengths, weaknesses, and developmental areas.

Here are five key questions to ask yourself as you observe your salespeople in the field

1. Did they establish trust and rapport with the prospect?

Some salespeople move too fast during the face-to-face introduction and initial phase of the sales call. They want to “get down to business.” Other salespeople move too slowly and “small talk” way too long. Observe your salespeople in this phase of the sales call to ensure that they are checking the “temperature” of the prospect in order to determine when to move from “small talk” to “sales talk.”

2. Did they prepare their questions?

Too many salespeople leave sales calls incomplete because they fail to ask critical questions. After the first few miles are between them and the prospect they just left, a wave of regret comes over them as they mutter to themselves – “I forgot to ask them about their costs associated with downtime!” It’s even worse if the question they forgot to ask is required for creating a proposal.

Then they must make the dreaded follow-up call to ask for information due to their oversight. Ensure that your salespeople know what information they must have before leaving that first call.

3. Did they know the “key players” inside the account?

Who are the decision-makers, and who are the influencers? Who persuades them inside of the organization? Your salesperson needs to ask questions on this first call or else be prepared to find out as early in the sales process as possible. Are your salespeople coming back with critical information or with blank stares when you review their pipeline each week? As a sales manager, if you don’t ask the questions during the sales meetings, they probably won’t know to ask during their sales calls.

sales force

4. Did they position your company and themselves well?

Very few companies have a long term-differential advantage when it comes to their products or services. Whatever your offerings may be, the market perception is that they can get it somewhere else. Therefore, one of the worst things your salespeople can do is look like every other salesperson graced the prospect’s office.

Timeliness, professionalism, courtesy, style, image, presentation, and rapport-building skills are critical to your salesperson communicating value. That is the only real differential advantage they have. Don’t allow your salespeople to “commoditize” themselves. Instead, observe ” how ” they come across when you go out into the field with them on a first call, observe “how” they come across. That may be just a thing between landing the sale and coming in a distant second place.

5. Did they establish “next steps”?

This is one of the salespeople’s biggest mistakes when completing a sales call. They fail to definitively determine the next course of action. What will happen next? Will it be another appointment with other key people? Will your salesperson forward materials? Will an analysis be scheduled? When, where, and with whom? Who calls whom next and on what day, and at what time?

Knowing that each of your salespeople is preparing for their first appointments, asking the right questions, and collecting relevant information will improve the quality of their prospect file and the effectiveness of your sales process.

Sales coaching is time-consuming – but critical.

The best sales managers I consult with a view their position just like a coach. They observe, advise, mentor, and educate, and then have their salespeople repeat tasks, strategies and techniques over and over again to improve their personal performance.

You can create a winning sales force through effective coaching. These five questions will help you get started as a champion sales coach on the right track.