I’m reading “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle and am reminded of the importance of understanding the neuroscience and practice needed to achieve sales excellence. It’s easy to believe that masterful people are born, not developed. But as Coyle’s research points out, excellence is not simply a game of lucky genetics.
It is the result of deliberate, intentional practice. If you desire to be a better sales leader/salesperson, follow this formula for excellence: Try, fail, analyze what’s not working, course correct, practice, fail again, course correct again, practice again and voila, a sales genius, great musician or athlete is born!
Psychologists call this type of practice “chunking.” I like to call it baton training. Let me explain.
Salespeople and sales managers often pre-brief and debrief the entire sales call during coaching sessions. These are good best practices, however, there are times where sales professionals would be better served to stop and figure out exactly where they are dropping the baton during the sales process.
Let’s look at an athletic analogy. A new track coach shows up at a high school, conducts his first practice and evaluates his runners. These are some of the fastest runners in the city, but they keep finishing second.
The new coach slows down to figure out the root cause for lack of performance. And sure enough, he discovers that lack of speed isn’t the problem.
His team is lousy at handing off the baton during races. They drop, stop and lose seconds every time they race.
Time for baton training, or chunking. The coach moves from speed work to baton hand-off work over and over and over.
Where are you and/or your sales team dropping the sales baton?
- Delivery of value propositions. Seller is introduced to an opportunity, a warm introduction. The prospect asks the seller, “Tell me about your company and who you work with.”
The salesperson drops the baton and responds with a boring, lengthy answer, failing to talk about problems her company solves for buyers in this industry.
Time for sales baton training.
Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse this scenario over and over until your seller can deliver their customized value propositions conversationally and comfortably. That includes introduction of the value proposition, pain statements and redirects.
- Dealing with price objections early in the sales conversation. A salesperson connects with the prospect and after 60 seconds of conversation, the prospect lobs a proven negotiation tactic, “Well, can you beat our existing vendor’s price?”
The salesperson gets flustered, and starts defending and justifying his price. This response emotionally triggers the prospect into a fight-or-flight response. The conversation ends, as does the opportunity.
Time for baton training.
Role-play this scenario until your salesperson comfortably states, “We’re very competitive. However, I’m not sure you need to consider my company unless there is something we can do to improve your current situation. But without a further conversation, I’m not sure what that ‘something’ is.”
Put on your track coaching hat and apply deliberate practice and baton training. Try, fail, analyze, course correct, practice and repeat.