Is your team saying things like "I am just checking in to see if you are ready to move forward" or "Let me know if you have any questions"? Does your sales team get flustered or stumped, or become evasive when faced with difficult questions?
As a They Ask, You Answer Certified coach, I train sales teams daily, and I have found that while they usually have tremendous technical skills, they often lack soft skills, especially when it comes to communication.
This led me to create a 6-week intensive sales communication training program specifically designed to help sales teams develop the soft skills they need to reduce costly mistakes, shorten sales cycles, and close more deals. However, I know communication training isn't for everyone. If you are considering it, read the article below to determine if you need communication training.
You Don't Have A Principle-Based Framework That Guides Your Sales Conversations
Do you feel your sales conversations often lack structure and direction, ending in statements like "Let me know if you have any questions"? Are your sales professionals finding it difficult to lead a conversation with authority without being arrogant or pushy?
While most sales organizations have detailed playbooks and scripts, they struggle to handle anything off the beaten path, like difficult questions or objections, on the fly. This leads to them being evasive or getting flustered, which diminishes previously built authority and destroys any hard-earned trust.
This is where a principle-based communication framework comes in. It provides your sales team with a consistent set of standards they can use to communicate effectively with prospects and customers, and helps guide sales conversations in the right direction without having concrete sound bites every time.
It should include guidelines on building relationships, handling objections, creating trust and credibility, and ensuring customers are satisfied with their purchase.
As an example, here at 3P Creative Group, we coach and train sales teams on the They Ask, You Answer sales communication framework, which establishes the salesperson as a teacher/mentor who guides prospects through the sales process by educating them while always remaining honest, transparent, authoritative, and therefore trustworthy.
By implementing a well-defined, principle-based communication framework for guiding sales conversations, you'll equip your sales team with the mindset needed to handle all kinds of difficult situations in any environment while providing prospects with a consistent and positive buying experience.
You Aren't Recording, Watching, or Reviewing Sales Calls Regularly
One of the most glaring signs that your sales team needs communication training is if they need to record, watch, and review calls regularly. With virtual meetings now being the norm, most sales teams record their calls. But how many watch and review them with their managers to improve sales performance? Only the best sales teams in the world do this, which is partly why they became the best.
Recording, watching, and reviewing sales calls is crucial to improving your team's communication skills and performance over time as it allows you to:
- Identify customer objections, concerns, or questions and review how to handle them without flinching,
- Teach your team to ask more profound questions that get past the symptoms and straight to the root cause of a problem,
- Discover red or green flags that define a bad-fit or good-fit customer (which helps your team to identify when to progress a lead to the next stage or when to abort the sale),
- Train sales teams on real-world communication scenarios (and avoid costly mistakes down the road), and
- Deliver a smooth sales process that always moves forward (e.g., learning how to ask everyone to switch their camera on effectively).
As a sales manager, you face much resistance if you suddenly introduce call reviews. You must: 1. Carefully get ahead of objections and raise the stakes around why you are doing this, and 2. Build a culture around collaborative skill improvement.
With the right team attitude, reviewing call recordings can foster a collaborative learning environment where teams can discuss successes and failures, share knowledge, and reflect on individual and group performance.
You Aren't Role-Playing Regularly
Oh, I know. As if watching and reviewing sales call recordings wasn't painful enough. Now, I want you to role-play common sales scenarios, difficult calls, and objections bi-weekly or monthly.
When I ask sales teams why they don't role-play regularly, they often mention that they don't have time for it. Here is the thing, though: If you take an hour every month to practice challenging scenarios, you not only do it in an environment where it is safe (and you get do-overs), but you also get valuable practice. This will increase your confidence, boost your ability to anticipate customer objections, and much more.
Here are three ways you can get started today:
- Start by taking routine sales situations, such as introducing your value proposition correctly. This ensures your sales team is comfortable positioning your products or services in different scenarios, e.g., elevator pitch versus lengthy product demo.
- Take a recent situation where you struggled to handle a specific question or objection and role-play it a few times to develop a better way of handling it.
- Take a typical call scenario and role-play how to get to the point faster, more directly, and more effectively, e.g., transitioning into the demo, ending the call by discussing the following steps, etc.
In our communication training, we not only teach sales managers how to prepare effectively and hold role-playing sessions, but also train your team how to participate in role-plays in a way that is productive for everyone. Once you get over the first hurdles and see how this impacts your sales performance, you will look forward to role-plays — pinkie promise from an introverted former role-play hater.
You Have Never Been Trained On How To Hold Effective 1:1s With Your Team Members
According to Impact, only 1 out of 20 sales leaders has been fortunate enough to have been formally trained to hold one-on-one meetings with team members effectively. Without the necessary skills, they can feel overwhelmed and struggle to provide meaningful feedback that will help drive results.
Communication training equips sales leaders with the soft skills to facilitate positive conversations with their teams without feeling unprepared or intimidated.
For example, our Effective Sales Communication training teaches sales leaders how to lead with questions first. This means, before making excuses or assuming reasons for poor performance, you would ask a bunch of questions that come from a place of genuine curiosity, allowing the salesperson to dig deep and discover the real reason why things aren't going so great, what they intend to do about it, and what the consequences are.
Another example is giving candid feedback rather than generic guidance such as "you need to sell more." This often results in your team members growing professionally and as people, but also results in greater loyalty to the company and the team.
You Are Losing Deals That Should Have Been In The Bag
Sales teams that need more communication training often find themselves losing deals that should have been secured. This is because they:
- Weren't able to effectively communicate their value proposition,
- Didn't get ahead of objections and concerns and, once faced with them, didn't address them well enough,
- Moved prospects too fast through the sales process because they didn't listen actively and dismissed concerns/red flags,
- Responded awkwardly to a problematic question, causing doubts,
- and so on.
This causes buyers to lose faith in the sales process and ultimately walk away.
On the other hand, if you are an effective communicator with a principle-based communication framework in place, you know how to constantly move a conversation forward at the right pace, raise the stakes correctly so your buyer has "skin in the game," and always show up as a trusted advisor in any sales situation.
In conclusion, sales communication training may not be necessary for every team, but for those who show signs of lacking soft skills and are willing to put in the work, it can have a tremendous impact on their sales performance as they improve their communication skills, reduce costly mistakes, shorten sales cycles, and ultimately close more deals.
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