Let’s face it – the job market is wide open for all kinds of sales positions however most applicants are hesitant to apply for sales jobs unless desperation has kicked in. Real sales people who enjoy the job are few and far between – so what do you do if you do have a sales team that’s just not cutting it?

Selling products or services requires the ability to approach many people you do not know on a daily basis to give them your pitch. If your team is shy or hesitant by nature, the sales process may seem like a daunting aspect of their job. To conquer this, we have some handy tips for managers to step up and get involved in the process of prepping up the sales staff.

Have a plan. Give the team the “need to know” information first.  This doesn’t have to necessarily cover all the details of their job and the product/service, but it should hit most of the core areas. Then create a weekly plan and closely monitor the progress of this, to kick-start the direction process they will eventually need.

Networking. This holds good for within the office and outside. See the compatibility of the team and put like-minded staff together. Introduce external social forums that allow your sales team to engage with potential clients, not for hard selling but just to learn how to mingle and build a rapport with a potential client. This will ease the process of later having to cold call a stranger.

Rotate them around the core departments. If at all possible, let them spend some of time understanding how the business works and the roles, responsibilities, and challenges in other departments.

Give them time. While you might operate in a very aggressive sales atmosphere, realize that some people are ready to pound the pavement on day one and others need more time to grasp things. That does not necessarily mean the latter has less potential; it could be just the opposite.

Assign buddies or shadowing of experienced team members with new staff for example buddy the best team member in handling objections with the weakest objection handler in the team.

Use Tagging – which means you should have a tag in your mind for each of your team members where each person has a specific need for improvement that you are working with him to improve, it is so clear to you the one specific issue each team member has that you have a tag for each. Remember this when you’re observing them in action and listening to their conversations with customers so that you’re constantly thinking of the key area where you’d like them to improve.

Put best practice in front of everyone. Always highlight best practice and make sure everyone sees it. For example pointing out a team members excellent customer handling situation in a team meeting or a huddle and explain it and make sure everyone understood that this is the right way and this is what we want to see more of.

Be there when they are selling Watch them in action, observe how they handle customers, see them firsthand to be able to point out where they need your support.  This doesn’t mean standing right behind them or leaning over their shoulder, but if we’re going to coach our staff properly you need to know what they’re doing. Watch not only for what they’re saying, but also watch out for their body language, communication skills, pleasantries exchange and gestures.

Let them watch you sell. Do it the right way in front of them and this is an excellent learning opportunity for them. Encourage everyone to watch your best sales people as well and pick up tips.

And most importantly, as a manager look at meaningful rewards and incentives that actually motivate the sales team, because they believe they will gain well from the benefits. This is the biggest pull for effective sales – the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, this does not mean driving all your profits into the ground, explore no cost ways to motivate your sales people as well as low cost things you can do to get them fired up and energized about selling and performing better. These may be straightforward but it’s amazing how many of us forget to do it or don’t do it often enough – and they really work!

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