September 2nd, 2014
Sales Leadership: You are the Practice Squad
On every football team you have the team of starters and you have a practice squad, their job is to represent what the competitions offense or defense game plan or playbook might look like. Each week the starters practice against these players to gain a better perspective of what the real competitor will do during the game with the objective improving their odds of winning. As a sales leader it is your job to ensure your team is prepared not only for each sales call but for unexpected situations that might arise at any time during the sales process. You are a critical success factor and to improve the professionalism of your team you must build a practice squad mentality.
I have often stated that I don’t see enough role playing during sales training meetings, role playing must be a cornerstone during your monthly training programs. One of the best ways to teach: skill building, strategy development and presentation skills is the use of a Case Study.
The case study allows multiple salespeople to work together on a project basis and compete against other members of your team. We recently completed a large project for a major technology company where we built a sales framework that changes the approach of the salesperson and alters their traditional relationship with their clients. One of methodologies we employed to ensure we could validate the understanding of the framework and use of the sales tools was a Case Study exercise. I want to review the process simply to encourage you to build this kind of learning experience into your training programs.
The following were the components of that case study:
- A detailed description of the firm and its go to market strategy
- A description of 7 potential players, titles, years employed
- A limited description of the existing technology
- An overview of the Industry this company competed in
- Limited financial objectives
- Miscellaneous information, some distracting, some valid
The salesperson or team could make two sales calls, the first with one person, and then a second call with two other members of the company. Each call was between 10-15 minutes, this could vary based upon the number of salespeople in your organization. There were Pre-Call Planning tools and a set of Sales Discovery Guides and worksheets designed to summarize their findings.
HINT: The individuals who played the roles of the customer had their own case study with additional facts, inside political issues, defined personality styles and hidden agendas.
Once the salespeople finished their second call, and discussed their findings they had the opportunity to ask two additional questions of any person within the company.
The deliverable included a formal presentation by the sales team of: 1) what they uncovered during discovery, 2) perceptions of the firm and 3) formal product/services recommendation including a sales presentation as to why buy from us!
Using this kind of training will allow the sales leadership team to view their salespeople in action, observe their skills and test their creativity. Even if you don’t go to the effort to create this formal of a process, building more role playing into your sales training programs will improve your team-put them in pressure situations in the office and they will perform as professionals in the field.
Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout the world.
His book is: Leading High Performance Sales Teams is a best seller, Ken’s 5th book “JAMMED! for New Sales Managers was published this summer.
Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.