Improve Your Win Rate and Shorten Your Sales Cycle by Doing This

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 12:04 PM

improve-win-rates

In September I wrote this article on the difference between asking good, tough and great questions.

I included examples all three types of question in the article.

There is also a proper sequence:  Good question.  Tough Question.  Great question.

You will get immediate feedback on how effective your questions are:  Your prospects will say, "Good question" when you ask one.  They will say, "Great question" when you ask one.  And they will stop and struggle before answering one of your tough questions.

Many salespeople make the mistake of preparing questions in advance. Salespeople who do that might be able to stumble onto one good question.  But great questions and tough questions must be spontaneous and in response to something your prospect already said when they answered prior questions.  

I'll share a role-play from a training program that wonderfully demonstrates what I'm talking about as well as the kind of listening skills required in order to ask good, tough and great questions. 

The role-play sheds much needed light on what salespeople tend to do on their calls, even when they have been trained to use a consultative approach to selling.  Instead of listening, they skip ahead, and rush to the close.  Ironically, the proper approach is counter intuitive. You will shorten your sales cycle, improve your win rate and gain traction by slowing down, while speeding up leads to longer sales cycles and lower win rates.

The role-play runs for about 26-minutes but please don't let that discourage you from listening.  You'll learn so much about listening and asking questions, you'll learn just how impactful role-plays can be, and you'll better understand the the most useful approach to training salespeople; powerful, interactive role-plays.

You can watch and listen to the role-play here.  The actual role-play begins at around 50 seconds in.  Early on I reference developing SOB Quality.  You can learn more about what SOB Quality means by watching this 3-minute video.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, role play, asking questions, effective sales coaching, listening and questioning, active listening

Successful Movie Franchises and the 10 Keys to Impactful Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 03, 2017 @ 06:04 AM

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Image Copyright Natalia_80

What are your thoughts about Atlantis?  Intrigued by the lost continent, I have read a lot about it over the years, including the book, Atlantis Beneath the Ice, which revealed where Atlantis is actually located.  Cool!  On a recent vacation I managed to read 5 books and 3 of them were from an Atlantis-themed trilogy.  This particular series was pure science fiction but there is no fiction whatsoever when we explore the connection between successful book and movie series and effective sales coaching.  They share the very same premise and it is actually quite simple to grasp.

There are many book series and movie franchises that go well beyond a 3-volume Trilogy.  Does James Bond 007 ring a bell?  There have been 26 of those so far!

They key to any successful series is not only the popularity of the first installment, but how badly that first story leaves you wanting more.  The first book not not only has to be really good, but you must feel disappointed that it came to an end!

That's the sign of great sales coaching too.  Today's coaching session must be so good that the salesperson does not want it to end.  Not only that, but the salesperson can't wait to come back for more coaching.  Now, be honest with yourself for a moment.  Assuming that you regularly and consistently coach all of your salespeople, is your coaching so powerful that your salespeople can't wait for another session with you?  It should be.

Sales leaders that coach effectively, impact deals and increase revenue by 28%.  What would a 28% increase in sales mean for you?

It makes sense that great coaching has a great impact, but only 8% of all sales leaders are able to coach effecitvely.  And only 28% of all sales managers spend 50% or more of their time coaching which tells us two more things:

  1. 72%, or most sales managers do not spend enough time coaching
  2. Assuming that the 8% who are effective are equally distributed between the 28% group and the 72% group, only 2.25% of all sales leaders spend enough time and are really good at it.

Yikes!

One might think that the lack of time invested in coaching is the easiest to fix but for sales managers who also maintain territories and accounts, it's not that simple.  However, that doesn't mean it can't be done.  Hire a salesperson to take those accounts and get busy doing what sales managers are supposed to do!  Coach.

As for the nuances of effective coaching, the 10 keys to success are the ability to:

  1. Develop a coaching culture - without that the coaching won't work.
  2. Coach your salespeople every day - it's the repetition that makes the difference.
  3. Debrief as often as you pre-call strategize.
  4. Identify where in the sales process the opportunity went off the rails
  5. Identify whether skills, Sales DNA or both that were at fault
  6. Effectively role play how the call or meeting should have progressed and teach at the same time.  
  7. Effectively role play how an upcoming call or meeting needs to sound
  8. Reach impactful lessons learned from each coaching session
  9. Impact deals without being on those calls
  10. Help your salespeople become stronger and more effective with each passing day

"Without question, the single, most difficult skill for sales leaders to master, is the ability to play the salesperson's role, while selling to a prospect of any title, at any point in the sales process, for any kind of opportunity, with any level of resistance and against any and all competition."

Why is it so difficult?  Because your lousy salespeople get into lousy scenarios - ones which you, a good salesperson, consistently managed to avoid because you were, well, good!  Your salespeople find themselves in those situations every day, those are the scenarios for which they will play the prospect, and you must demonstrate two things through role play.  

  1. How to avoid those scenarios
  2. How to turn around those scenarios

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, best sales leadership training, effective sales coaching

Sales Coaching - Are Sales Managers Any Good at This Function?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 10, 2010 @ 05:03 AM

I've written extensively about sales coaching before. Yesterday, a fairly typical day, I coached 4 different sales experts and 2 clients on how to more effectively coach salespeople and sales managers.  I have noticed that most sales managers believe that they're fairly good at coaching when, in reality, most of them are very ineffective at it.  Why?

First, let's look at what's required for effective coaching. Some of it is tangible and measurable while some isn't. Effective Sales Coaching requires:

  • great listening skills
  • great questioning skills
  • no Need for Approval
  • that the sales coach not be Too Trusting
  • no assuming
  • a strong grasp of the sales process
  • common sense sales strategy
  • large mastery of appropriate sales tactics
  • debriefing skills
  • role-playing skills
  • confidence

These skills are all interdependent so even if a manager possesses many of these skills, lacking even one or two would still render their coaching ineffective at best.  For example, what if a sales manager owned the entire list except for role-playing skills?  She would never be able to demonstrate the best practice required.  If she owned the entire list except the company did not have a formal sales process (OMG's data reveals that 91% of companies lack a formal sales process) it would be difficult for her to put the scenario into the proper context of time (when it should happen) and space (where it should happen).  If she owned the entire list except mastery of sales tactics it would be very difficult for her to discuss how it should happen.  If she owned the entire list except for debriefing skills, it would be very challenging for her to identify the underlying problem behind the issue at hand.

In my experience, most sales managers lack MOST of the skills on my list.

The second part of the coaching equation is frequency.  Salespeople need to be coached daily!  Most sales managers only provide coaching as needed.

The third part of the equation is consistency. The coaching process should be the same each time you coach a salesperson.  You want your salespeople to be comfortable with this process!

The fourth part of the equation is the credibility factor. Salespeople must trust you, respect you and have a good relationship with you.  If any of that is missing you'll have a much more difficult time getting salespeople to have faith that your coaching is on the mark.

Finally, the last part of the equation is accountability - sales managers must hold salespeople accountable for implementing the lessons learned in each coaching session.

How effectively are you at coaching your salespeople?

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, effective sales coaching, sales management core competency

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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