But hiring a newbie who’s never sold before? That’s an even bigger task.
A sales rep has to master many skills to deliver high performance, and that makes it hard to figure out the best place to begin. Do you start with prospecting? Discovery meetings? Objection handling?
Those are all important skills to have, but let’s take a big step back and look at some of the basic concepts salespeople need to understand. Here are five important lessons to teach your new hires to help them become master sales reps:
Sales Coaching Lessons for New Reps
Don’t take things personally.
This is the first most important lesson to teach a sales rep. Predictably, many times when a new sales rep is speaking with a prospect, the conversation can go south really fast. The key is to teach your new rep what to do when that happens.
Demonstrate how to have the grit and maturity to not take the situation personally and to not let emotions get in the way. Advise against getting too drawn by both their emotions and their customer’s emotions. Here’s an interesting read on how ego can play tricks with you.
Coaching tip: Mentally prepare new reps for these kinds of unpleasant situations. Give them live examples of conversations, and share potential solutions to address these types of situations.
Be a storyteller.
A high-performing sales rep always learns to humanize their company and product, and this can be done by sharing anecdotes with the prospect when making a sales pitch.
Don’t let your new hires just read a list of features and functionality. Instead, teach them to tell a story of how your offering made a big impact with one your customers. Provide them with real-life examples and case studies of how your product is making a difference. That way, they can then communicate to your prospects.
Of course, the story has to be genuine and it would be even better if you can name the customer – brings out the authenticity of the story.
Coaching tip: Try teaching a few business storytelling techniques to new sales reps, and give them a few success stories to have up their sleeve.
Balance speaking with listening.
New sales reps might come with the misconception that talking the loudest and the most is the key to convincing a prospect to buy.
Make sure they know that this idea is far from the truth. Explain that no one likes to feel coerced or obligated to buy your product, which is exactly what happens when you don’t let your customer think out loud. Have them sit in on a few sales calls. This helps them understand when to speak and when to let a prospect speak.
Additionally, explain that not giving prospects a chance to express their doubts and concerns leaves a sales rep blind. They won’t know what is happening in their prospect’s head. Emphasize that while they might think they’re making a great sales pitch, a prospect might feel quite the opposite.
Coaching tip: One good rule to teach new sales reps is that everything you say to your customer must add value to the conversation. Encourage giving carefully thought-out replies rather than impulsive ones.
Look for micro expressions.
Teach new salespeople about micro expressions – those fleeting facial expressions that appear when someone is trying to subconsciously or deliberately suppress an emotion.
Help your reps understand why reading little fluctuations in the voice of the customer can be very beneficial. For example, if you detect a note of disappointment in the customer, you can arrange your next statement accordingly. It’s always good to know where the conversation is headed in advance.
Here is an article on how to understand and detect micro expressions.
Coaching tip: Arrange a couple of sessions with experts or provide reading materials on micro expressions for your new hire.
Use body language.
You know that confidence is key for sales reps. Describe to them why no one wants to listen to an unsure, meandering salesperson and that confidence makes reps look trustworthy to listeners.
One way to help reps build confidence is with body language. According to Amy Cuddy, a Harvard professor and TED speaker, body language has an immense effect on how confident a person feels.
In a study people were asked to stand in high-power positions and low-power positions for 2 minutes. People who were doing power poses showed a 20% increase in their testosterone – a hormone associated with confidence and a 25% decrease in cortisol – hormone associated with stress.
Coaching tip: Teach new sales hires to strike a confident pose. Train them to carry themselves right – no slouching, shrinking and hunching – when they are speaking to a customer.
These are only five very basic concepts for your new reps to learn. Don’t forget to continue training and coaching them so they can reach their maximum level of performance.