The dictionary defines sales as the act of selling something: the exchange of goods, services, or property for money. In layman’s terms it is the blood supply in business. Selling is a polarizing activity and field. A person knows where they stand on the topic. You either love to sell or hate to sell; often there is little middle ground. Whatever your slant on it selling is a 100% critical business activity.

As a sales coach based in Atlanta, Georgia I have worked with individuals around the country who want to up their game and increase their closing ratio – or who are reluctant business owners who view sales as an unfortunate requirement. Aside from keynote or motivational speaking in front of a crowd picking up the phone or walking into an unknown office environment to sell strikes more fear in hearts than anything else I can think of!

Women who in my opinion have a strong advantage in sales often do not like to sell. This perplexes me as we are natural communicators, love to share the latest and greatest whatever with family and friends; but when it comes to calling on strangers mouths go parched, eyes get wide, all of a sudden organizing our desk, car, or purse becomes wildly important! The way to reverse this tendency is to keep in mind is reframing how we think about selling. Isn’t it a disservice to the prospect to hold back when we know our offering would benefit them?

What rocks about sales as a discipline is how it forces us to get a handle on our mindset, forces us to persevere and presents plenty of obstacles to overcome forcing us to be creative and innovative. The customer’s reward is having someone really listen to what their needs are and address the pain points. A good salesperson uses the “ears/mouth ratio.” They know they have two ears and one mouth and should use them in that order!

As a sales coach, I help my clients learn to embrace the mindset needed to develop oneself. The result is securing new clients while offering outstanding customer service for existing clients.

My brand of coaching is to discuss, model, encourage, practice, apply, receive feedback and adjust. Wash and repeat all the way to the bank! Much of coaching is advising the client on being prepared. For example, if cold calling understand the first few calls often requires, “walking on your tongue,” meaning those first few calls rarely sound smooth. That is why one should start their cold calling day by reaching out to lower value prospects first. This affords the opportunity to work through the kinks and find your flow before the stakes become higher.

Asking permission from the prospect is a good habit to form at the beginning of every sales conversation. This is known as an upfront contract. As a former Sandler Sales training spokesperson I was taught the five elements of an up-front contract:

– The purpose of the meeting
– Prospect’s agenda and expectations
– Salesperson’s agenda and expectations
– Time the conversation will take
– Outcome

This helps frame the conversation and lets everyone know what to expect. Both the prospect and the salesperson agree to the outcome at each stage of the contract. It’s not only courteous but an effortless way to establish you as respectful, confident, and professional at the very beginning of the sales conversation.

Good sales people don’t sell; they make it easy to buy.
As a sales coach I prepare my clients to ask power questions. Questions are what assist the client in accessing their true pain points. It is critical to find out the real pain points. People justify their purchases logically but buy emotionally. No one loves to get sold but everyone loves to buy! A savvy salesperson understands not to sell on features and benefits.

Once the pain points are revealed and it is time to close review each pain point with the client and summarize the cost with the consequences of continuing on the current path. It is now time to close. Many sales people have a hard time asking for the sale. Don’t be that guy or girl. Ask for the order then stop talking. Do not speak again until the client has. Your sale is toast if speak first. The quiet used to freak me out but now I relish the moment as success is but a word away!

How invested are you in your company’s sales success?

Many businesses systematically raise sales targets without offering additional support for the salesperson responsible for making it rain. This is not a sustainable model. Creating high sales quotas without developing the person responsible for delivering on them is ultimately a recipe for disaster.
Consider hiring a sales coach if raising sales targets over and over again. This will help your salespeople dig deep to reveal the best in themselves.

What do sports teams do when they enter a slump? That’s right – they hire a new coach. They don’t fire the entire team, or poach their rivals (at least not until the next draft). In fact, blaming your reps for poor sales, without first putting in the effort to train them, is the surest way of demoralizing your team and ultimately destroying your company’s profits.

There are three important reasons why hiring an independent sales coach is the key to significantly improving your sales.

For one, your sales manager may not be able to efficiently manage your sales team. In a fast-growing company, a sales manager has a number of key responsibilities. Training sales teams, however, takes time and focused effort. It is doubtful the time or inclination exists to adequately train the sales team. Ultimately, the company misses out on opportunities and profits.

Secondly, an independent sales coach can bring in a fresh perspective, helping reveal underlying problems in the work culture, team structure, or training processes. It is hard to remain objective when close to a situation. A problem that would jump out to a sales coach may be invisible to those working in the day to day trenches.

Why not get the most out of your existing products and services, and claim a bigger chunk of your market with a better sales team? Research shows that with just three hours of coaching a month, sales reps can improve their closing rate by 70%, on average improving the company’s profits by 25%. Hiring a sales coach could be the best investment of the year.

On your sales team, it is not uncommon to have a star performer. This rep will almost always close the deal, exceed sales targets and find new clients. This creates the worry around retaining your sales stars. If they quit, sales will be dramatically affected, and you might find yourself offering more incentives to keep them in your team. On the other hand, the majority of your sales team will be average – good but not great, and somewhat inconsistent. Such reps can make significant improvements with the right sales training. A sales coach can act as a hedge for both issues.

Atlanta, Georgia is known for its business culture. Business people here learn fast to focus on closing deals or have their lunch eaten by the competition. I suspect this is true of your city. Gone are the days sales could be handled as an afterthought. It should be at the forefront of your brain every day. Did you Tuesday’s are the best days to make sales calls? It is the most likely day of the week to reach your prospect in the office.

Helping small businesses grow their sales, no matter how challenging the market is what I love doing. Over 20 years, I’ve made countless sales and grown companies in industries as diverse as the environmental industry, retail and real estate. And I can help you too.

Joyce Bone is a sales coach, keynote speaker, author, and entrepreneur successfully building businesses and sales teams across the nation. For more information on how she can help your business grow email support@joycebone.com.

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