By: Steve Bookbinder on July 28th, 2015
Managers, What Are Your Sellers Missing? - 4 Things to Listen For
Managing by “walking around” is a great way to stumble onto some things, but it’s hardly the way to consistently uncover true sales coaching opportunities.
Checking in with, “So what are you working on?” gives you only part of the story. Paying particular attention to what’s missing is one of the most efficient ways of discovering what’s really going on.
When salespeople start telling you the stories of their sales, listen for what they’re not telling you. Consider their motivation.
Are they telling you a story with the goal of impressing you, their manager? Are they trying to prove they’ve thoroughly vetted each opportunity? Are they simply trying to tell the story in the fewest number of words, because they don’t understand why you’re asking - don’t you trust them?
Are they trying to distract you from some bad news or pipeline weakness by emphasizing the one positive thing they have going on? Do they know what you’re listening for when they answer your question “Can you tell me about the sales you are working on?”
Make sure you don’t miss anything by listening for these 4 things:
1. Diversity in sales stories
You should hear stories about big, average-size, and small deals as well as deals that began from a variety of sources. Listen for how the sales strategy employed by your salesperson was tailored to that particular prospect and why.
This will give you insight into how your seller thinks and acts. If all their stories sound alike and the expected diversity is missing - you should be suspicious.
2. A shared sense of urgency
If your salesperson keeps telling you what they’re doing to drive home the sale (“…so, I told her this, and then I told her that…”), it may be interesting, but it’s not as interesting as the story of what the customer is going to do to speed things up on their end.
Without the customer’s help, nothing is likely to get sped up regardless of what the salesperson is saying. Where is that part of the story? Is our contact rooting for us? Recommending us? If so, how and why?
3. Are your salespeople asking themselves the right questions?
Salespeople probably like to think of themselves as the CEO or CRO of their territory. They’d spend time every week thinking about scaling their business and optimizing their approach or “working on their business”.
Hopefully your sellers have this entrepreneurial mindset and are asking themselves the questions below regularly.
- What is the number of sales I need to close and am on track to reach my goal? Where are this month’s easy sales?
- What is my ideal balance of small, average-size, and big sales that I need each month and quarter?
- When do I have scheduled time to prepare for and rehearse my meetings?
- What am I doing to better qualify each sale?
Can they easily share their answers with you? What are your sellers missing?
4. The story of how each sale fits into the overall pipeline
When sellers go down the list of sales opportunities that are on their plate, it is impossible to fully understand the relevance of each sale outside the context of what that salesperson needs in their pipeline.
What is their prospect pipeline supposed to look like? How close is their actual pipeline to that ideal?
When you sit with your sellers to review the forecast, is the salesperson adding this color commentary or is it missing?
- They should begin their forecast meeting with a high-level overview of their pipeline so you know if they have enough prospects in all funnel positions. If that’s missing, they may suffer sales ups and downs.
- They should demonstrate prospecting consistency and attention to the sales cycle. They need to note the first appointment date for every sale. Has every week’s prospecting eventually produced at least one sale or are there weeks where the first appointments and the closes are both missing?
- A healthy pipeline has a balance of small, average, and large sales opportunities – are any size sales missing in their pipeline?
- The velocity of the prospects – how often does this entire pipeline turnover? Are the stories of new sales in the pipeline missing?
As a manager and a coach, you will know you have done an effective job when fewer of the essential details are missing. The seller who’s not missing any answers you’re looking for will likely not be missing their sales target. If you’re ready to look out for what’s missing, you’ll be prepared to make your entire team better sellers.
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.