Sales managers, why is it important to practice sales skills?
I watched two field goal kickers kick the ball in the closing minutes of two different games this past weekend. If you’re not a football fan, you probably don’t care about this but you may have heard about it. One kicker kicked a 35 yard winning field goal with 14 seconds left in the game. The other kicker missed a 27 yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the game. One team moved on the other went home.
I don’t know anything about the habits of these two kickers. I can only speak to the kickers I saw practice when I was at the University of Connecticut, the University of Cincinnati and Iowa State University. Greg Sinay, Rich Karlis and Alex Giffords. All three of them spent HOURS on the sideline during practice kicking. Kicking down the sideline, kicking into nets, kicking over goal posts. At the end of practice we would practice ‘special teams’ where the kickers would come onto the field and kick in ‘game like’ situations.
They were prepared to do their best when they were needed the most.
Unlike other position players kickers are called on maybe 3 to 6 times depending on the game. Also sometimes they are called upon to make a play that decides the game. Very rarely are other players ever put in that position.
How often are your sales people put in a position where they need to be at their very best? How often do you have them practice so that when that moment comes they can perform at their very best? How often do you create ‘game’ situations so that they are prepared for anything a prospect ‘throws’ at them?
Effective selling is a combination of:
- An effective, consistent approach to the market
- A strategy to conduct sales calls that focuses on
- Uncovering the ‘have to fix’ problems of the prospect
- Providing a solution that fits the requirements of the prospect
- Presenting a solution so that the prospect values the value proposition
- Asking for and getting a decision
- Sales skills
- Sales DNA
With the right sales DNA, a solid approach to the market and a strategy that is proven to be effective the only piece to the puzzle left is the set of skills piece.
Like all physical and mental skills, sales skills can and will deteriorate over time if not honed. Borrowing from president Lincoln who when asked what he would do if he had 4 hours to cut down a number of trees he responded that he would spend time sharpening the axe. Abe was known as the ‘rail splitter’. He knew how to wield an axe, but he realized that occasionally the axe needed sharpening.
To improve the productivity, the effectiveness and the efficiency of your sales team make sure you spend 1 on 1 time with the and time during sales meetings to practice perfecting sales skills.
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