What does it take to turn a discouraged sales force into an inspiring success story?

My career and my company have been built around empowering sales teams with the processes and tools to do exactly that. I can tell you the three critical areas in which there’s nearly always room for improvement:

  • Enhancing sales teams’ understanding and application of Professional Selling Concepts.
  • Losing the negativity and critical self-talk among team members.
  • Teaching smarter use of their CRMs to help them to serve customers more effectively.

That’s why it was so great to speak recently with Shannon Hall, VP of Sales for commercial cleaning products and equipment manufacturer Dustbane. Shannon was brought into the company just four years ago to bring process to their team, to amp up their drive and confidence, and to grow sales – and it’s worked. By year two, sales started to soar. By year three they’d experienced the highest percentage of growth the company had ever had.

The sales team she found when she came on board were all experienced, knowledgeable and great with customers, but what was missing was a solid understanding of the fundamentals of selling. Without that training and background, many of them were having a rough time adapting to the changing landscape of how sales are done today.

Shannon attributes her own success to continuing professional sales training over several years, and she wanted to be sure that her team got that same solid foundation.

She understood, too, that training alone wasn’t enough without continuing development – and that by creating a stronger sense of team cohesion, she could get everyone pulling in the same positive direction.

I was happy to come on board to help with some of that training. I started with pre-interviews with each of the team members to help me get an idea of each of their personality styles. That helped Shannon to tailor her own coaching, not just to the team but to the individuals. She does a lot of field time with team members, so she can see how well they’ve prepared. She also reviews the call with them afterwards, so that follow-up and looking for ways to improve is a continuing process that’s become second nature.

But it’s not all work.

Shannon also introduced karaoke and Nerf guns (to shoot down negativity) into the regular group meetings, to create a fun environment and bring everyone together. She told me, “Because of all the changes in the way sales were being done, I was hearing a lot of negativity around how people weren’t used to working in this way, or that our customers wouldn’t like it – and I really wanted to energize them, so they’d leave those meetings saying, ‘That was a great experience, and I can’t wait to go use what we talked about, or to share it with someone else.’”

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Team building exercises and activities are a part of their routine now – and they serve as a way to introduce new selling concepts, whether that’s through role playing or doing a scavenger hunt together.

Shannon knew how important adopting a stronger CRM was, and wasn’t surprised when she encountered some resistance from the team. Was this just one way that Big Brother could look over their shoulder, or mine their contact information so their jobs could be outsourced? She did her best to reassure them, initially trying to incentivize them with compensation, but discovered that the secret sauce was actually changing team members’ territories. Now, they saw for themselves how critical it was that their peers had actually entered up-to-date information about customers because it was there for them when they needed it. It helped them see the value and provided a way to connect with customers to create lead generation.

But the best part?

Shannon told us, “We’ve become a team, versus individual contributors. People are focused on growth and on their metrics because they’re seeing that those metrics are actually driving their results. They’re hearing from not only their distribution partners but from the end user customers about how much more professional they are, from asking the right questions to being more intuitive about someone’s business. I think that’s changed everything in the way that we go to market and that experience across the board – and is really driving the results for the team.”

Teneo Challenge: Tell us how your sales team has worked to raise the bar of sales excellence for your customers. Post a comment below or tag us on LinkedIn @LisaLeitch, #SalesExcellence.

Let’s have a consultative conversation today about your sales challenges – I’m always happy to listen! T: 519-863-3975 or E: lisa@teneoresults.com

Lisa is driven by the mantra – Be Strategic. Be Pro-active. Be Brave. – and has been successfully training and coaching sales leaders and their teams to do the same for over 15 years. As the President of Teneo Results since 2003, she has trained thousands of sales professionals at more than 250 companies across North America. She transitions salespeople away from the standard “product & price” approach to having purposeful business conversations with their customers that drive results.

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