I work with a variety of business managers and owners in our great industry — and with companies of all different sizes, sales goals and cultures. Despite the uniqueness of each company, all progressive and driven owners and managers want to know the secret to improved sales numbers.
Now, this is not a simple question to answer, because there are so many components to consider. However, when it comes down to the basics, the best way to increase sales is to improve your sales training and foster an effective culture of accountability. That makes sense in the most logical way possible.
Then the question becomes, “How do I improve my sales training?” There are many resources available to help you become a better sales trainer, but I want to provide you with the two things that I’ve seen make the most difference for the companies I coach: enthusiasm and engagement. Let’s break those down and I’ll give you some tips to utilize both with your team members.
Enthusiasm might sound like all you have to do is be upbeat and excited for your techs and salespeople to improve their numbers, but the hard truth is that many of your team members lack overall enthusiasm for your products and services. You might think that’s not a big deal, but it is a huge deal when they lack enthusiasm in front of your clients, because that always equals money being left on the table.
Where does this enthusiasm come from? It always comes from the top — from you. As an owner or manager, if you aren’t pumped up about your offerings and your company, your techs and salespeople won’t be, either.
I’ve been doing a lot of research and training a lot of people, and my keynotes lately focus on the millennials in our industry. Having enthusiasm for their job, along with a sense of purpose, is of utmost importance to them. If they don’t understand why they are doing something, or if they don’t feel like they are having an impact, you’ll never get the best from them. With a growing millennial workforce, it’s important to keep that in mind.
So, you need to be the one to help your team members get excited about what they are doing every day. Here are a few ideas regarding how to do that.
In one of your company meetings, to demonstrate what true enthusiasm is, have your team members each find a partner and then describe to each other something they’ve purchased recently that they are excited about. It could be a new car or a new fishing pole — whatever ignites their passion.
Have them describe it in detail, telling the other person about the features, benefits, how they use it, and so forth. When they finish, point out that they were just selling that item to their partner, but it didn’t feel like selling because they’re passionate and enthusiastic about it. Encourage applying that enthusiasm with their clients.
Some of the most powerful training happens when they don’t even know they’re being formally trained. Equally, some of the best sales interactions happen when clients don’t feel like they are being sold anything.
If your enthusiasm doesn’t ignite your team members, your clients will continue missing out on the best your company offers. One strategy our team of coaches utilizes is to build exercises for your front-line team based on remembering times they had a phenomenal connection with a client and what specifically caused that strong relationship.
Have participants break into groups of three to six people and have them each share a scenario with their group. Make sure everyone has a chance to share, then reconvene as a large group and discuss the connection topics that created such great bonds with clients.
Through good facilitation and questions, you will be able to help them realize that the most effective communication with clients always comes from topics outside the products and services your company offers. (If you only have two to four technicians or team members, simply do the entire exercise above as a company.)
If you are still doing lecture-only style training in your company and expecting it to work, don’t be surprised when it actually doesn’t. Training needs to be engaging and interactive, period. I learned this the hard way in my own company when I first started implementing consistent sales training.
My techs would dread it and I didn’t understand why — until I learned about the importance of engagement. I could be completely enthusiastic, but without engagement, techs get bored and simply “check out” mentally. I’d train a great concept or technique, then as soon as the meeting let out and they went to their first call, they would just go back to their normal way of interacting with clients. It’s crucial to incorporate engagement in your training.
Here are a few suggestions for you to use when training your team members.
Practice skills. You’ve probably seen some version of this activity commonly referred to as role-play, and most techs act like they don’t like doing it, but it’s a great way to change behavior and apply the knowledge to an actual client scenario.
Partner up your techs, give them a scenario, have them act it out like they are speaking with a client and then go over it as a group. Ask what they had issues with and let them ask questions. It’s also important to follow up with this training; it’s not a one-time thing. Role playing also works well for customer service representative training. When it becomes fun and makes sense, the walls come down and your team will play full out while learning and re-enforcing new behavior.
Make it relevant. Just like teaching salespeople to explain to clients the benefits of each product and service, nothing engages your team members more than explaining what’s in it for them. This is where engagement comes in the form of contests, games and fun (friendly) interactive competitions.
It also helps to re-state that the purpose behind sales training is to create a benefit for more than just the company: It’s about making the clients’ lives — and their own lives — better. When they give the client more of what they want and need, they also make more money for themselves and their families.