Scenario for sales managers:
You’ve identified a common failure point in the sales presentation. You are rolling out a unified sales technique to your team, something you want everyone to follow. It’s important, and you want it to stick. It will be the highlight of your upcoming sales meeting.
At the meeting, you explain this new technique in your most emphatic voice. You role-play it to make sure it sticks; you have a focused and engaged team.
You want to make sure they “get it,” so you go around the table asking for an affirmative nod from every salesperson: all good.
The very next day you are eavesdropping on a sales presentation and you are listening for your salesperson to demonstrate this new behavior.
And guess what? Your salesperson does exactly what he or she has always done… no change. It’s like you never even said a word.
The Real Problem
If you’re like me, your first inclination is to blow several mental gaskets.
Hold off on that. Consider for a moment just what your salesperson is going through on this journey.
Here’s the real problem. You are fighting a behavior that was ensconced in the mind of that salesperson for years or even decades.
You are fighting a deeply engrained habit and you are fooling yourself, my friend, if you think you can change years of established behavior in a single sales meeting. That’s just not how coaching works.
The Real Solution
You must start by acknowledging that behavioral change does not take place in a moment. This is a process, it takes time and repetition.
Your role as a leader/coach is to first share the message, and then to continually coach to that message until a new habit replaces the old ways.
If you want to see this play out properly, you need to understand change from the perspective of the person who needs to change – the sales representative.
The Five Steps of Change:
1) Exposure to a New Idea, Technique or Behavior
That is the starting point: exposure. Just get the new concept out there.
Go back to that initial sales meeting. All you accomplished in that meeting was step number one. It’s important, but you still have a long way to go.
2) Contemplation and Challenge
Salespeople listen through two dominant filters. The first asks the question, “Does this idea fit into my previous experience? Can it work?” The second filter asks, “Am I willing and capable to use this in the future?”
If the idea fails either of these tests, you will receive what I call the “Smile-and-Nod.” They will smile, they will nod, but deep down they will reject.
Contemplation and challenge are critical steps towards buy-in. Give your salespeople permission to try this on for size rather than just jamming it down their collective throat.
At some point the salespeople must (at least in theory) accept this new behavior as both valid and beneficial. They must claim it as their own.
As a manager, you must find the fine line between, “We’re doing this!” and, “Here’s why this will help you.”
In other words, there is a sales pitch involved that must lead to acceptance. Sell the idea and the benefit. Then get the buy-in.
Here is where it all comes together… or falls apart. You must allow your salespeople to try this new behavior in a safe environment.
Let me be clear: attempting a new and unpracticed behavior in front of a customer is, most definitely, not a safe environment.
Give your salespeople the opportunity to practice extensively; first alone, then with a peer, and finally with you. The more they practice, the greater their comfort level with the new behavior.
If you choose to skip this step, let me tell you exactly what will happen. They will try it with a customer; it will blow up in their face; they will blame this new and stupid technique; they will never change.
5) Repetition / Mastery
Finally, this new behavior must be repeated frequently enough so as to accomplish two things:
1) A new habit
Habits take time and repetition. That’s it – time and repetition.
The destination called Mastery lies on a road called Repetition.
Repetition ingrains a new habit and marches you down the path towards mastery.
Get it out of your head that behavioral change comes in the form of an e-mail or a sales meeting or a single conversation. Behavioral change takes time, repetition and coaching.
But that’s what great leaders do. They focus on the right behaviors, and they put in the time and focus to get that done.
If you want to learn more about Behavioral Metrics™ and driving higher levels of execution and accountability with your sales team, then you need to join me for Execute 2016 on August 18-19, 2016 in beautiful Coronado, CA.
For sales teams with aggressive sales goals and high standards, Execute 2016 is the event that helps sales leaders pull the right levers without running their company into the ground.
PLUS you’ll enjoy time with our special guest, Brian Tracy, who will share his wisdom and answer your questions on how you can achieve all of your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined.
Click here to find out more…