3 Steps to Get Your Sales Team Performance Ready Blog Feature
Steve Bookbinder

By: Steve Bookbinder on April 27th, 2016

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3 Steps to Get Your Sales Team Performance Ready

Sales Management | sales team

As a sales manager, you’re investing lots of time into your team and essentially betting on their continuously improving performance.

How can you be sure that your investment pays off?


Here are 3 ways to implement performance tests and clean up your team’s act:

1. Acting 101 - Mastering the Audition

Can your team perform their “elevator pitch” in front of their peers?

Most salespeople complain that they find role playing in front of their peers harder than doing the same thing in front of their real prospects and customers.

While that may be the case, the only way to ensure that everyone on the team is incorporating everyone else’s best ideas is for the entire team to watch and listen to their colleagues while they perform the “song” that comes up in practically every sales meeting.

There are shorter and longer versions of an elevator pitch, from the short version you use at networking events to longer versions used in full-capability presentations. Salespeople need to be able to perform each variation in a way that consistently produces the same great audience reaction.

2. Acting 102 - Handling the Crowd

Can your team handling the most difficult, worst-case-scenario objections, questions, concerns, and issues in a sales conversation?

Every salesperson can handle any sales conversation when the customer is agreeing with everything said. But to wrestle new business away from competitors and inspire existing customers to buy more, sellers have to be great at this skill when they are under pressure.

How good is your team under pressure?

Carve out some time during your next sales meeting and play the “They say…,I say…” game. Make a list of the top 5-15 objections (They say...) and ask the team to work together to craft and then perform the best turnarounds (I say...).

Pay attention to how quickly your team thinks of all of the objections, but how slow they are in deciding on the best turnarounds, which is evidence that they never really worked together on this important shared skill. Then measure how long it takes your sellers to actually get the turnaround words to come cleanly out of their mouths---evidence of how badly they needed to have this objection handling workshop.

Managers who make their teams frequently conduct this exercise find their new hires ramp up more quickly, their experienced veterans get used to sharing best practices, and the rest more quickly adjust their words to reflect the best thinking on the team.

3. Acting 202 - Uncovering the Story

Can all of your sellers lead a sales conversation with questions that reveal the most important information about the customer’s goals, buying patterns, priorities, and budgets?   

You can probably can spot the absence of this skill through poor closing ratios, long sales cycles, and low renewal rates. Look at your team’s sales KPIs and see if any of the following is true:

  • 50% or more of the proposals they submit don’t close because they don’t address the customer’s real needs
  • Sales cycles take longer because customers aren’t confident that the offering presented is right for them or don’t have a budget ready
  • Account Managers don’t learn the customer’s most vital benchmarks to be used for renewal decisions—until it is too late

A great exercise to address this is to study the sales notes from recent meetings that didn’t result in a closed sale. Ask your sellers to come up with a list of qualifying and clarifying questions that in retrospect, now that we know what actually happened during those sales attempts, they should have asked—or asked differently.

Chances are, upon examination, the team will discover one or two opportunities to ask better questions.

Use these tests to determine if your team is performance ready to deliver the right elevator pitch, handle negative comments, and lead the sales conversation toward closing. Implement these team-building, role-playing exercises into your sales meetings as soon as possible to ensure your team is ready to perform.

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About Steve Bookbinder

Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.

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