And how to get them to.
It’s a problem as old as sales. (How old is sales, by the way?) Our team has phones, fingers to dial them, and mouths to speak—all the necessary ingredients! They might even have extra stuff: leads, a CRM, ideal client profiles, referrals, incentives, commission structures, and the loving support of a sales manager or business development leader.
But they aren’t making calls. They aren’t making ENOUGH calls. They aren’t making the RIGHT KIND of calls. And you’re not getting the results your business desperately needs.
Maybe you’ve tried to solve this problem, maybe it’s a new problem, or maybe you just discovered that it’s a problem and are learning it HAS BEEN a problem.
What the heck is going on? You’ve invested in trainings, held countless sales meetings, gathered for company picnics, and gotten creative with team-bonding exercises. Perhaps you’ve hired coaches or consultants and it hasn’t played out.
You’re stuck because they’re stuck. Now what?
After coaching salespeople and sales managers for years, we typically find that a few basic things are creating this headache:
- Your company culture/accountability systems aren’t motivating. Maybe it’s always been OK for your salespeople to simply take the orders that come in—and honestly this is pretty common. It’s also extremely COMFORTABLE, so your sales staff is not jumping at the chance to leave their comfort zone for the inevitable volume of rejection that comes from cold-calling or warm-calling prospects. It’s possible there is no accountability in place to motivate them, so, of course, they stay in the comfort zone and wait out the clock.
- You have the wrong people. Theoretically everyone can sell. You’ve probably heard that we are all selling all the time. While that axiom holds truth, not everyone thrives when selling. For some folks, the fear of rejection or the stress of social interaction with strangers can paralyze an order-taker being asked to start reaching out. Perhaps you’ve promoted your best salespeople to management roles. (Hint: This is a surefire way to lose your best salespeople and gain poor managers—these skills are wildly different!)
- You don’t have the right tools. In 2021, the amount of free resources and useful softwares for sales professionals is endless. CRMs help folks stay organized and accountable. Headsets (as minor as this sounds) allow hands-free calling so your staff can make notes and type, ensuring communications are logged in a way that can be analyzed easily later. Social media and email allow us to find warmer leads than in the old days of opening up a phonebook.
- Lack of proper training/education. In other words, the wrong training. Perhaps the most common issue we encounter is that salespeople are given a phone, laptop, pep talk, and off they go to get after it! But see, sales is a deeply complicated human-to-human interaction where issues like rapport, self-awareness, confidence, empathy, and organization are all in the mix. Never mind the deep psychology of how buying decisions are made and how folks in the business world like to communicate. Throw in all the different sales training methods there are (many of them do not elicit good results) and it can be totally opaque—the perfect recipe for a confused and unproductive staff.
So what do you—the person responsible for this team’s performance—do, knowing the pressure on them is really on you?
- Talk to your staff. But really talk to them—don’t ask them how things are going (you already know the answer to that!). Instead, ask them how they are FEELING. What have folks on the other end of the calls been like? What do they wish was different? What feels good? Not only can this humanize you to your staff, but you may learn of a moral crisis or other issue no one is bringing up when you ask about job performance vs. personal emotional status.
- Role-play/group call sessions. Spoiler alert: No one will be happy about this. BUT, the value cannot be overstated. Without knowing what the calls sound like, you’re relying on each salesperson’s ability to rate themselves objectively, a very rare talent. These sessions not only allow you to hear what is going WRONG, they also allow you to find things that are going RIGHT, giving you the chance to support and encourage! Role-playing and group call sessions can eventually be used to model optimum approaches and ideal calling behaviors.
- Hire outside help. Working for a business day in and day out can mask lots of issues. Not only that, most companies are excellent at what they do—like making products, providing valuable services, or helping others. TYPICALLY this means they aren’t experts at sales or marketing. And that’s normal and OK! Finding a qualified agency, firm, consultancy, coach, or therapist can be transformative, as long as they’re a good fit and share similar goals and values.