We’ve all enjoyed watching people that have mastered their craft: a musician, or comedian. These masterful individuals have put in hours and hours of practice to achieve such mastery. In sales, we practice through role-plays and drill skills during group or one-on-one coaching sessions.
According to a CSO Insights sales enablement study, companies with a dynamic sales coaching program achieve 28% higher win rates. So…
Why do so many sales leaders still struggle to build practice sales cultures?
There isn’t one answer, however, here are five common mistakes that impact a sales manager’s ability to build a practice sales culture.
1. Ineffective hiring practices. Sales managers often don’t vet potential sales candidates for their ability, aptitude or attitude towards practice. As a result, they end up with salespeople that say things such as, “I don’t like role-plays. They make me uncomfortable. This isn’t real.” (However, this same salesperson seems to be very comfortable writing practice proposals because of their mediocre selling skills...)
The fix. Hire people that have demonstrated the ability to practice “something.” Salespeople with a history of practicing possess the emotional intelligence skill of delayed gratification. They are willing to put in the work, the practice, to earn better sales results.
2. Lack of focus. Masterful people have built the skill of focus. And because of their ability to focus, they are able to engage in deliberate practice. Intentional practice. Masterful people are self-aware and create environments that allow focus. They eliminate distractions so they can focus on the task at hand.
If you desire to build a practice sales culture, eliminate any and all distractions when engaging in role-plays. That means putting away your cell phone, the new adult binky, and other technology.
The fix. Focus. Eliminate distractions and engage in deliberate practice.
3. Not enough repetition. Let’s face it. Skill building can be tedious. Mastery is acquired by practicing the same skill over and over and over. Research from the European Journal of Social Psychology shows that habit formation can take from 18 days to 254 days, depending on the complexity of the habit or skill.
I can personally share that I have rehearsed content repeatedly to ensure that it is delivered in a concise and understandable fashion.
Was it a little boring repeating the same material? Yes.
Did it pay off when I delivered the content? Yes.
The fix. Practice and then practice some more.
4. Not practicing ALL of the skills needed to win business. Most role-plays or practice sets are focused on building the hard skills of sales. Important skills, however, equally important is role- playing and developing the soft skills, the emotional intelligence skills, needed to open and win business.
For example, empathy is a must have skill in reading the room to identify the unspoken objection in the room. Assertiveness is an important skill in gaining access to all the buying influences. Impulse control is critical in helping a salesperson avoid the curse of product dumping. Self-awareness is the mega skill which helps salespeople become aware of their selling blind spots.
The fix. Role-play both the soft skills and hard skills. Improve 100 percent of the skills needed to win and retain business.
5. Inconsistent coaching cadence. It’s easy for sales managers to cancel and/or reschedule coaching sessions and role-plays with their sales team. Putting out corporate fires takes precedent over practice sessions. Poor time management leaves no time for practice.
And here is one truth that is going to hurt. Sales managers don’t believe that consistent coaching is important. The reality—and truth is:
- You do what you believe is important.
- You invest time in what you believe is important.
The fix. Slow down and apply self-awareness. Ask yourself the difficult questions. Do you believe that a consistent coaching cadence is important or not? Without self-awareness and reflection, you will not change your attitudes, beliefs or coaching behaviors.
Avoid these five mistakes and you will be on your way to creating a practice sales culture. Perfect practice makes perfect.