In order for a business to really thrive, it has to take some risks. New product launches, expansion to new territories, investments in infrastructure or new software – these are just some of the areas where things could go wrong but also pay off very handsomely. Fortune favors the bold, as the saying goes.
Salespeople must also take some risks in order to succeed. Investing thousands in professional sales training, quitting a job to pursue better opportunities, bypassing a gatekeeper and going straight to the top – all of these carry some risk.
Salespeople who are scared don’t achieve much. I am not just referring to big, dramatic risks like the ones I just mentioned. They simply make fewer calls, don’t attend as many networking opportunities, and hesitate to pull the trigger when closing sales.
When hiring salespeople, a sales competency assessment can filter the fearful candidates versus the risk-takers. However, even naturally brave salespeople can use a boost. Here are some tips for creating a fearless sales team.
As sales leaders, we are all very results-oriented people. We establish goals and monitor our metrics constantly to make sure we stay on track. We base bonuses and performance reviews on “the numbers.” While this is a much fairer method than relying on whether an employee is popular or the boss’s son, it can also lead to a sales team that plays it safe. Keeping a job becomes the focus, rather than crushing goals through innovation.
As such, management should encourage some risk-taking in order to motivate salespeople to step out of their comfort zones. One way to do this is to change the culture to one which views failures as learning opportunities rather than punishable offenses.
The next time things go wrong when someone takes a risk, rather than chop them down, debrief and take the time and effort to figure out what could have been done differently.
Up the training possibilities and you will naturally develop a more confident sales force. The more knowledge and practice, the superior the performance will be in just about every activity.
Training doesn’t have to involve full-fledged workshops and seminars. Rather, sales managers could share interesting articles or YouTube videos and TED talks, as they come across them. Also, set aside a few minutes for a quick drill at weekly sales meetings. Have them subscribe to our blog, they will find plenty of sales tips to implement each month!
Don’t bother training people who do not have the aptitude for the position they are in. There is only so much a person can do to stretch their natural personality traits. I feel it is more humane to transfer or offload those employees who are in the wrong seat, to positions where they can succeed.
A sales competency assessment will help you determine this.
Brainstorming allows salespeople to feed off each other’s creativity and energy and can result in real innovation and team building. Beyond that, having salespeople share ideas takes away some of the risk of being singled out for failure, as the entire team then owns these ideas as opposed to just one person who can be blamed for failure.
There are many ways to hold a brainstorming session, but one of the simplest is to present an issue facing the team and ask, “How might we solve this?” Just make sure that no one is criticized for a “bad” idea.
Coach and validate
Another way to create a fearless sales team is to coach them into being more confident. The way I would do this is to start with a sales competency assessment and show them, according to the results, they ARE well-suited for whichever sales role they occupy. It’s amazing how much confidence this simple act of validation can inspire.
Following this, I would discuss how to improve any shortcomings using the reports provided with the test. The sales competency assessment is a credible but neutral source of evaluation, so buy-in is greater. It validates their positive characteristics, and takes away a lot of mystery as to “what do I need to work on?” This reduces fear because they have a direction to move forward.
There is nothing like a sales team full of cooperating, confident people who look forward to conquering challenges together. You can create one by fostering an atmosphere where failure is seen as a learning experience, calculated risks are encouraged, ideas are shared, and salespeople are validated for what they do right. And don’t fail to use a sales competency assessment to help choose the right people and do a better coaching job.