In Part I of this two part series, I shared in general terms the ingredients needed to create a super selling professional. I also hinted at several of the different processes that he or she would need to learn in order to be truly effective. My objective over the next few lines will be to introduce you to four processes that all super salespeople use on a daily basis to build, maintain and manage their businesses as well as impress upon you the importance of making these processes a standard by which you evaluate sales effectiveness. I realize that many of you are not cooks, so before we get too deep using cooking analogies, I thought I would use a different approach to expound upon this most important topic.
My son is an athlete and plays left tackle for his high school football team and while at his game this past weekend, it dawned on me that the same principles that are used to teach and coach football players applies to the selling profession as well. Truly effective professionals never guess, they are well versed on the skills of their trade and they use these skills in varied combinations to make moves or plays that seem almost magical to the onlooker. They never deviated from their training methodology or regimen and are fastidious about working on and improving their execution of the fundamentals. Walter Payton, Michael Jordan and Vince Lombardi are examples of ordinary people that have mastered the fundamentals at an extraordinary level. None of these individuals by themselves could ever win a game, but as part of a team where everyone knew what to do, when to do it and most importantly how, they were champions.
True top performers are no different, because no one knows that they are better or worse until you compare their results to someone else. Here is the point, although the formula or recipe for success in selling has been modified over the years, the core skills or fundamentals that the learner must master are almost the same. Here are the skills that my research has proven that all high performing selling professional possess and those that struggle lack.
#1- Effective people skills such as listening, asking questions and relationship building and understanding the different human personality traits.
#2 – Basic technical skills such as how to leverage the use of technology such as CRM software, the phone and other forms of devices that will be used to communicate with clients to build, maintain and manage a book of business correctly.
#3 – Professional Development to include dressing for success, negotiating skills, effective networking skills and a personal ongoing development strategy.
These skills form the foundational knowledge that all salespeople must have in order to be truly effective at their jobs, and in most cases, point out the gaps in their knowledge base that are preventing them from being truly effective. This brings us to the reason there is a part 2 of the recipe, Business Processes, the formula for producing consistent results in any area of selling. All processes are made up of activities that require the individual to use certain skills to complete the activity correctly. If the individual learns the process and does not have the necessary skills to complete the task correctly, then they will struggle to be effective. This revelation explains the poor ROI dealerships are getting on their training investment. Okay, there are four plays or business processes that the selling professional must master in order to be effective at their craft.
# 1 – Business Development or lead generation, the different activities that will be used to get the prospects in the door
# 2 – The actual sales interaction process that is currently known as the Road to the Sale that takes place when the client comes in to the dealership
# 3 – Customer Relationship Management, the activities that take place when the client leaves the dealership
# 4 – Managing the book of business, the activities that keep everything in its place so that you can sleep well at night knowing that nothing is falling through the cracks
These four processes cover the different areas of client interaction and are the required knowledge for those wishing to sell professionally. If you can get this, then you will understand why the majority of salespeople are struggling and are inconsistent in their performance. It will explain why they stand around waiting as well as show you where to start focusing your efforts.
Making these process-distinctions is extremely important because they provide specific areas of focus to measure the individual effectiveness in the execution of the fundamentals. It provides management with a measuring tool for the successful completion of each activity within each process, thus allowing them to offer constructive feedback coupled with tangible things for the individual to work on. In other words, it allows mangers to manage the task and not the person. I call this approach managers managing for effect.
The overarching benefit to adopting this approach is that it allows dealerships to take a look at their current processes or the lack thereof and measure their effectiveness against a defined standard to determine the appropriate action to meet the standard. Here is the point, you cannot fix a problem or improve upon a process that is inherently broken, never been defined or does not exist. So if sales are slumping, these processes would allow anyone to step away from the table to evaluate the how, why and what of their current activities so as to ascertain why it is not working in order to take action that is sustainable. Just like in sports or in cooking, you must follow the recipe in order to produce the desired results. So with this approach, if you decide to omit an ingredient or skip a process, you will be able to identify what went wrong and know how to fix it. The important thing to note here is that managers that try to manage a person instead of the process will have a difficult time producing measurable results on a consistent basis because without associating an individual’s performance to a predefined task or activity, so the question that needs to be asked is: what then are you asking the individual to work on?