I want you to try an experiment.
Walk into your next sales meeting and ask your account executives the following:
- What do you say on a voice mail to increase the odds of getting your calls returned?
- What’s the difference between how you handle a first call objection and an objection after you’ve made a presentation?
- What are your favorite closing techniques?
- When the client says, “Nobody watches TV in the summer,” how do you respond?
I’m going to guess that many on your team will really struggle with the answers to these questions. I’m also pretty convinced that a high percentage of sales management will also struggle. That’s scary, ‘cuz you can’t teach what you don’t know.
Not being great at the basics of selling is a challenge for an industry that is putting so much focus on developing new business.
There are two basic approaches used to do new business. Many stations develop new business by selling “stuff." They bring clients packages for things like The Taste of Mobile or The Health and Fitness Expo.
The other new business approach (and the one we teach) focuses on an in-depth diagnosis of the customer’s business issues that leads to a presentation outlining a solution. It’s not either/or on these new business approaches. Today, most stations have to have both to be successful at reaching their new business goals.
Both of those approaches require selling—sitting in front of the client presenting an opportunity—and I sense that our industry today is not anywhere near as effective at the basics of selling as we’ll need to be.
There are 6 things that really great sellers master:
2. Getting the appointment
3. Effective diagnosis (this requires better call prep than most do)
4. Customer-focused presentations
5. Asking for the order
6. Dealing with objections
Of course, within these 6 areas are lots and lots of techniques. That’s why training can’t be an event. We try to persuade users of our Doyle On Demand platform to invest 15-20 minutes per week in their own career by taking (and probably more importantly re-taking) courses to help them get better and better at the basics of selling. As a leader, your approach to teaching these ideas needs to be like the words on the back of the shampoo bottle. Lather… Rinse… Repeat. We teach frequency as a principle that drives results for our advertisers. Frequency in training is the most important aspect for really pushing concepts into action.
When major league baseball teams started spring training a month ago, they practiced the basics. Who covers first on a ground ball to the right side of the infield? Where does the cut-off man stand? These are the exact same things my son‘s Little League® team practiced when he was a 10-year-old just learning baseball. Lather… Rinse… Repeat.
As we re-orient our sales effort to be more and more focused on new business, we need to make sure that our teams have the tools they’ll need to be more effective. Simply sending people out to make more calls is a strategy that is, if not doomed to failure, certainly not going to lead us to high growth.
Work with your sales team to help them be brilliant at the basics. It can give you and your company a significant competitive advantage.