Coaching someone in sales isn’t easy work. Not because the client is always difficult, but more so because the profession is complex, to say the least. This article is one of 7 that I have written to help coaches & managers coach sales professionals. Not that these 7 cover everything, but I think they are significant when hoping to set a solid foundation for a salesperson.
Ignorance isn’t bliss in business. And it’s definitely not praised in sales. That’s why accumulating and applying KNOWLEDGE is critical. I don’t mean knowledge in an educational sense. Yes, education is important, but I’m talking about the type of knowledge that’s professionally relevant and progressively collected. Being informed is critical because it has the potential to powerfully transform a sales professional’s credibility. If a sales professional doesn’t accurately understand her product/service, client and context – well, she’s in for a surprise. And it probably won’t be a positive surprise.
When sales professionals are regularly uninformed, typically, they excuse their ignorance. Instead of taking responsibility, they blame it on something or someone else. They suggest they aren’t selling because “it’s a pricing issue!” Or, “It’s a tough market!” Really, if a good sales professional isn’t selling, their reasoning is going to be much more refined. Specific. To the point. Why? Because good sales professionals aren’t satisfied until they get to the root of their selling problem.
Now, I’m not suggesting that as a coach, you force or expect your sales professional to knowitall. That’s micro-managing, not coaching. Instead, I’m advising you to counsel your sales professionals to recognize the importance of information. They must not only appear to be experts to their clients, but they must actually be experts.
What does this look like? Well, it can vary. But, a few staples of staying informed, include:
Remaining updated on market trends, needs and prices.
Thoroughly understanding clients’ expectations and needs, especially as these develop & evolve.
Maintaining relationships with key resources and partners.
Constantly assessing the latest and greatest competitors on the scene.
Staying educated on the product or service line that one sells.
Reading the news and other relevant literature that shares timely information.
Researching client-company information, so that one is fully prepared to make a personal sales pitch to every client.
Depending on the sales environment of the professional and the industry of the product/service that one sells, additional opportunities to stay informed may arise. After reviewing the above list with your client, another next step would be to brainstorm additional ways to expand the breadth and depth of one’s information bank.
If your clients are hoping to become sales professionals that are set apart from the amateurs, they must appreciate, accumulate and apply the best information. It’s pivotal to their professionalism. Critical to their credibility. And essential to their success.