By Alice Heiman
At the Sales 3.0 Conference, we talk a lot about how technology is impacting the sales profession. One major upheaval is the waning patience B2B buyers have for salespeople who don’t have much to offer beyond basic transactional assistance, or who can’t function at a level that holds the buyer’s interest.
To make sure your sales team stays relevant in a digital age, you need to help them develop their selling skills. This is going to be the number one way to increase your revenue potential, because salespeople with highly sophisticated skills are going to remain highly valuable – even as automation and artificial intelligence solutions make simple, transactional sales roles obsolete.
Creating and carrying out these development plans doesn’t have to take a six-figure budget. Of course, you can spend money on training, tools, coaching, and rewards. But no matter what you spend, it’s about providing your team with the resources they need to succeed. With that in mind, try these four simple tips to start developing your sales team today.
Tip #1: Develop your own management and leadership skills.
You know how, on an airplane, the flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before you help another? Well, developing yourself follows the same strategy.
Once you’ve begun to develop yourself as a sales leader, you’re more able to help your sales team develop and reach their goals. When you invest the time and energy to develop your own leadership and management skills, you lead by example. That will reap dividends with your salespeople when you ask them to improve their selling skills.
Tip #2: Understand that training alone will not lead to skill development.
It’s your job to help your sales reps understand their part in the company’s success and to develop personalized success plans. Of course, this may mean they have to change their behaviors.
We all know that behavior change is hard. Training alone does not equal behavior change. However, coaching makes it easier to change, because it gives salespeople an accountability partner and some incentive or reward as they work on their selling skills.
Tip #3: Task each member of your sales team to create a personal development plan and then review it with them and make it actionable.
Ask questions, like: What do you want to learn to do better this year? How will you do that? What could prevent you from hitting your goals? When you know the answer to those questions, you can help develop a plan.
Tip #4: Start a book club with your sales reps.
One tactic I highly recommend is creating a book club. It’s easy, inexpensive, and not time-consuming. Just pick a book based on what you want your team to learn, or have them choose. Ask them to read a few chapters a week and then get together to discuss it. Thirty minutes a week away from their desks to meet and an hour or two of reading time is the cost. The result? Agile learners that are improving selling skills and changing to exceed their goals.
Want to increase your sales success in 2018? Join me at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Philadelphia on December 4!
Alice Heiman is founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC. Alice works with business owners to get consistent and sustainable sales growth – and has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years.