In my sales programs I describe most sales people as being like the “Hellarewe” bird.
That’s a three foot bird living in four foot grass…who keeps saying “Where the hell are we?” How many of your salespeople act like “Hellarewe” birds? But selling is a lot like the game of Chess. If you think more moves ahead than I do you will most likely win every game. How many moves ahead are your sales people thinking and planning in their territory?
A simple test to find out if any of your team are “Hellarewe” birds. Ask one of your reps for an update on their best account. Because this is their best account I’m sure they have something set-up or planned for this important customer. As you write down what they say, ask them what they are planning to accomplish on their next call to this account. After you have written down their responses, then turn the page and ask “So what do you plan to accomplish on your second call to this account?” If they give you any response to write down then ask them your third and final question of “And what do you plan to do or accomplish on your third call to this account?”
How did your sales reps respond to these three questions? If your sales rep is normal they will have a great set of answers for their first call. But will have nothing planned, organized or even thought of for their second or third call. The most common answer I hear when I ask this second question is “Whatever I wasn’t able to accomplish off my first call list!”
Your job as their manager or leader is to lift them up on a regular basis and help them see over the four foot grass (and then drop them down and let them get their job done). How are you helping your sales team think and plan more moves ahead?
A great coaching technique is to ask them whenever you are discussing an account “…and then what?” When your sales rep is briefing you on an account, wait until they are finished laying out all of their plans or challenges. After they tell you their plans for the account (probably only their plans for their next sales call to that account) then ask “…and then what?”
You continually asking each rep during account discussions “and then what?” will help get your team members to start planning and strategizing more moves ahead than they have been thinking. Could your sales team increase their competitive edge if they started thinking and planning more moves ahead then they have been? And if they already are, and then what?