When he’s not at work, Richard Smith (@Richard_Refract) may just be one of the loyalist futbol supporters the world has ever had. Following the “perennial disappointment” (his words) Newcastle Unite, Richard writes articles and records podcasts as his way of staying connected to his hometown team.
We are the Geordies! The Geordie Boot Boys!
By day, Richard is building the conversation insights and coaching technology platform known as Refract, where he’s a co-founder and serves as head of sales. If success in sales comes down to the conversations you have with your prospects, how are you working to make yourself better in that arena?
Sales leaders openly say “coachings reps” is their #1 priority, but it seems as though that’s nothing more than lip service. Between “meetings” and “other responsibilities,” coaching ends of getting pushed farther and farther down the list to the point of essentially not happening.
What ends up happening is a manager sitting with a rep, listening to one side of a call, and making a few suggestions. This makes it nearly impossible to see trends develop or pick up on nuances with how prospects are processing information or responding to questions.
If you or your sales manager spend the first 30 minutes of your day, checking email, your fantasy football stats, or social media feeds, you might consider replacing that with breaking down your last sales call.
- Sales Meetings are Not Coaching Sessions: Every sales team has a weekly call. The reality is, for most, this is nothing more than a transfer of information meeting. Debriefing the week that was and getting updates for the week to come. Coaching is “improved performance” and no sales meeting I’ve ever been in does that. Instead, let’s work on getting into specific details of opportunities by way of what happened during the calls — the words that were used, role playing objections that could have been handled another way, or client stories to use as references in certain scenarios (with context). Breaking down those areas of improvement just like an elite athlete could be the difference between a promotion and interviewing at other companies.
- Prospecting at all Levels: No matter what your title says, if you belong to a sales organization, some amount of time in your day should be spent on direct prospecting. I know this is counter to the populist movement of hyper-specialization, but I seriously believe everyone should be prospecting. If you work with me, you’re either prospecting for new clients or prospecting for a new job. Sales is the lifeblood of an organization and prospecting is the only thing that will save you in the event of a downturn.
- Challenge Your Prospects: It seems like everyone is comfortable hearing “no” from a prospect, maybe even too comfortable, but I rarely hear of sales reps being willing to say “no” or pushback on their prospects for fear of killing an opportunity. I’ve often seen requests for references, white papers, and trials as nothing more than stall tactics. Be willing to challenge a prospect and get them to help you understand what exactly will change if you do what they’re asking.
- From Impossible To Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin