Knowing vs. Doing
How is your sales team doing with the 'knowing vs. doing' challenge? You know what I'm talking about.
The 'knowing' part of professional sales is a salesperson's knowledge of selling as a process. The elements of this process are qualifying for problems, money and decision process, positioning value, etc.
Along with these process steps salespeople will also need to know the selling skills necessary for executing the process. These are the communication skills–asking questions, active listening, getting commitments, building relationships and dealing with resistance.
As a sales leader you should be working on developing your team's selling skills based on evaluating your team and what you are observing on joint sales calls in the field. This can also be accomplished by consistently conducting role-playing in your sales meetings. You should monitor this role playing and listen/look for gaps in your salepeople's skills. Based on your evaluations and observations you can then provide the 'knowledge' to fill in the gaps. This is the knowing part of the equation.
However, as noted sales guru Dave Kurlan is fond of saying, a salesperson's "knowledge of selling as a process is not enough to help them execute effectively on a daily basis."
Execution is the 'doing' part of selling. Rationally, we all know what we should be doing in the sales process. But taking what you know and turning it into what you do is one of life's biggest challenges. Those of us that have ever taken a golf lesson know what I'm talking about.
Again, as sales leaders, you should be evaluating your team for certain sales weaknesses that prevent them from executing what they know how to do in the many different sales situations in which they find themselves. In other words, they know what to do…but they don't do it.
These sales weaknesses can be one of a number of things–need for approval, non-supportive buy cycle, self-limiting beliefs, a tendency to get emotionally involved (internally), discomfort in talking about money or difficulty in recovering from rejection.
Addressing these weaknesses requires a more concerted effort by sales leaders than when working with salespeople to improve their selling skills. While the fix for each weakness is different and unique, the common denominator is addressing the individual's beliefs about selling that serve as an obstacle and predetermine their effectiveness and outcomes.
As an example, if a salesperson is uncomfortable having an in-depth financial discussion with a prospect about budget, pricing or terms, it's usually because of a limiting belief about money that was passed along to them by a parent or authority figure when they were younger: "It's not polite to talk about money, son."
Note: Working on these weaknesses with salespeople should always be done in a one on one coaching setting. Salespeople will be more open to your coaching and you'll get the best results in this type of setting.
Last thought on this subject–when coaching your people to overcome these weaknesses, remember to be patient. It takes time to fix them. At the same time, be firm, hold your people accountable and accept no excuse-making for not making progress!