Like many, I‘ve spent plenty of time watching Netflix during the COVID-19 lockdown. I recently came across Salesman, a fantastic documentary from 1969 that follows four salesmen working for the Mid-American Bible Company as they sell expensive Bibles door-to-door in low-income neighborhoods.
In the span of a few weeks, the work world has shifted en masse from regular offices to working at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For sales organizations, this means moving everything to virtual, including training.
According to industry research, sales managers that devote more than three hours of coaching per month to each of their team members achieved 107% of their team quota. On the other hand, teams that received no coaching met only 82% of their quota. Coaching works because it helps you create leverage, and leverage is the key to be a successful sales manager. Leverage means that your salespeople do the work, not you. You spend less time “putting out fires” and more time working on important issues. You create leverage by developing and coaching your team so that their skills improve. With better skills, your salespeople are better able to solve their problems without your constant involvement.
Most sales managers know they need to coach their salespeople to maximize performance, but they don’t know how to get started. When you’re confronted with a complex problem, remember what Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Here are four steps to help you think about how to start coaching your sales team.
Asking great questions is an essential skill every successful sales professional must master. That’s because when you ask open-ended questions, you transform the sales call. Your focus moves away from your solution to the buyer’s problems, goals, and concerns. As a result, your customer feels listened to, while you learn key insights about what’s important to the buyer.
Imagine achieving phenomenal sales growth with no salespeople. Impossible? Well, Dropbox, the file storage company, founded in 2007, grew its revenues to $116 million by 2012. Its sales then rocketed to $1.46 billion by 2018. What’s even more impressive is that for most of its short life as a company, Dropbox achieved this remarkable growth with no salespeople. Dropbox has historically relied on viral growth, together with a referral marketing model, with more than 90% of its revenue generated from self-serve channels. See here and here for discussions of Dropbox’s business model. It’s easy to understand the appeal of no salespeople. No headaches or expense dealing with hiring, training, managing, and paying sales reps. So, did Dropbox discover a better (and more profitable) mousetrap?