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An alternative sales training strategy

Design thinking skills for in-house consultants

“What if there’s someone on my team who’s just lazy?” – this is a muted question that I am asked at almost every coaching seminar I teach. It asks confidentially, quietly, which proves it sales manager not even convenient to voice the question. I understand – no one wants to accuse someone of laziness.

When I research further to find out why they suspect a person may be lazy, the answer is usually some variation: “Well, they just won’t work to make the changes we ask of them.”

This answer may be true, but perhaps managers are asking these “lazy” employees to make changes in such a way as to ensure that they cannot – or will not – do so.

Here’s a script I’ve seen in countless numbers coaching classesA: The manager and the representative agree on the area of ​​improvement. The manager then says, “From now on, if I listen to your calls or watch them in action, I will see how you do it in 100% of cases.”

100% of the time?

The first problem with his approach is that the ruler asks for the impossible. Which baseball player from the Hall of Fame gets on the plate every time? Even Michael Jordan didn’t execute 100% of his free throws! Even a talented tennis player like Roger Federer has unforced errors. If his coach told him, “So you’ll never make another unforced mistake, right?” It would be unwise. And because it’s unreasonable, he wouldn’t be able to do it because he would know he couldn’t succeed.

If you want people make significant changes, do not ask them to change. Ask them instead try it it is. This way you will achieve a better result.

The best approach

One day I watched Fr. coaching session between the manager and the representative, who did not ask enough questions for the discoveries to find out about the client, instead switched to “dump functions”. The manager tried to get the representative to ask five revelations for each subsequent call. The spokesman muttered, “Sure.”

The manager asked the representative, “Looks like you didn’t like the value of this approach?”

The representative honestly replied, “I don’t.”

At that moment, the manager turned to me and said, “I don’t know what to do next.” (This is a fair statement; that’s why sales managers need to be instructed how to train: It can be difficult.)

I told the spokesman, “Tell me more about your hesitations.” It turns out he was always successful when he just talked about the product, and he felt that this new approach would “take away his game” – a common concern.

I told him, “I don’t want to take away what works. We are just here to consider whether there is anything that can add to your game. Wouldn’t you like to check it out and see if it works for you? ” This question is easier to ask a representative and he was willing to try.

Why it works

With this approach you do not require the representative to constantly change, so it removes the risk and fear associated with such a sharp shift. Also, most people see the inherent fairness of “trying” or experimenting. It’s hard to say no.

If you try this approach, there are a few things to keep in mind:

    • The correct test is not something that a representative tries once and then declares unsuccessful. The test is something he or she tries 15 to 20 times.
    • To set up the test properly, you both need to be consistent with what it is. Using the example of the discovery question, you can agree on three to five specific discovery questions that your representative will try to use that you know are effective.
    • This test also requires tracking the results. It can be as simple as taking a note of how the client reacted, how the course of the conversation changed due to three to five questions, or whether the client seemed more receptive to the representative’s recommendations later.
    • Finally, the two of you need to contact again to discuss the results. Be sure to discuss what the representative tried, how often he or she tried it and how well it worked.

When I set up the test this way, I was pleased with how often the person comes back and surprised, but excited about how well the new skills or behaviors work and how much it benefits him. If you have team members who don’t seem to dare to change their game and don’t think they’re lazy, try this approach.

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