Sales teams that don’t adapt, don’t sell

Recently I provided sales performance coaching to the owner of a skin care company with an unusual product line that targeted people with sensitive skin and athletes. Within 90 days I taught her to focus on understanding personality styles, nonverbal and verbal cues, and other sales methods which led to a 45 percent sales increase. Not bad for a short amount of time.

What this business owner didn’t understand before the coaching was that people’s buying habits and needs have changed since 2008 because of some of the worst economic times we’ve seen in 100 years.

What we use to get away with in sales and management before 2008 is not effective now and will not be effective in the coming years.

This has caused a high frustration level in management as well as the front line sales teams. The pressure is on to perform. The big question is how to perform? The pool of clients and leads has reduced. Competition for market share is higher. Companies have to work with less yet they expect high performance from the sales team.
Since 2008, I have been crisscrossing the country coaching company sales and management teams and individuals on the new skill sets needed to succeed in these economic conditions.

Lead generation is still the focus of sales management. How to find the leads, how to present, how to follow up and how to close are still the needed skills of a sales professional. The challenge now is that the consumer or end user has seen it all. The consumer is well educated and knows what is coming next in the dialogue. When we are able to not act like sales people and approach the prospect with greater influence, the outcome is positive for both parties.

So how do you get there?

Know your blind spots. The sales manager needs to know more about the sales team’s personalities in order to determine the blind spots each has. Once identified, these blind spots can give the manager the insight necessary to coach the individual. The sales manager also needs to know his or her own blind spots in order to be the most effective.
Know your clients’ tendencies. The sales person has to know the personality style of the client. If the sales person is working from an old template and does not adjust the presentation to the personality of the client, they will not connect. Learning how to identify what personality types the prospects are and how to approach them provides a whole new set of skills for the sales person. New skill sets include:

  • Asking the right questions to certain personality styles to get the response necessary to qualify a prospect and either turn it into business or go to the next call.
  • Using verbal and nonverbal clues to adjust your information on the fly.
  • Learning how the prospect thinks (not everyone thinks like you).
  • How tonality has an effect on the prospects response.

Things have been tougher since 2008 and part of the reason for closed and downsized businesses is that their sales team didn’t adapt to the changing environment. More intimidation and threats on the sales force did not create a more productive sales force. In fact, the opposite happened.

Sales teams that did adapt, that knew the game had changed, stayed in business or thrived. Research I recently completed showed that a coached sales team does two times the business of an uncoached sales team.