Some individuals are natural-born salespeople. A newbie salesperson could join your team and without any training outperform all your other reps and become a top seller. However, it’s much more likely that without quite a bit of mentorship and guidance, your rep is not going to be worth the constant flow of coffee they’ll be drinking.
It can be a long, difficult journey towards successfully training a new rep. Luckily, I have no doubt that in 99% of cases, even the worst new sales rep can be turned into an extremely valuable asset to your team. To illustrate this point, here is a story about how I turned a new rep into a top seller…
Let’s call this rep Henry. Henry was straight out of college, bright-eyed and excited to jump headfirst into the world of sales. Now, he was a pretty bright guy (he graduated from Brown, after all), but simply had no idea how to sell a product.
As someone who prided himself on his ability to persuade others, Henry was super focused on “selling,” which actually prevented him from closing any deals. Instead of listening, Henry would just talk at his prospects, which left him completely out of touch with his customers’ needs.
Another issue was the fact that we worked at a middleware software company, and Henry was getting really caught up in all the details about how our product worked, and in explaining the complicated technology.
Immediately, I pointed out that he needed to focus on what the product could actually do, and not overwhelm buyers with a list of every feature. He then developed a technique where he focused first on the time-savings that customers would get by using our product, and went into the nitty-gritty only if asked. This gave the customers a tangible incentive to buy, leading to tons of closed deals.
I also saw that Henry had quite a few natural strengths that I could play off of. Henry was excellent at building rapport, despite the fact that he was better at talking than listening. I had him practice asking more open ended questions to his prospects, which gave him an even better jumping-off point for creating conversations and building relationships. With a lot of effort, I even convinced Henry that listening to the customer was the key to closing deals.
The True Test
After hours upon hours training, and a few weeks of experience, I had full confidence in Henry, and was ready to put him to the test. My team was pitching a huge deal, and I wanted Henry to lead the charge. After the first few meetings, everything was going great. The CIO loved us, and was fully invested in our product. He transferred us to two other employees, who were supposed to help finalize the deal. Suddenly, they lost all interest in working with us. Everything went completely off the rails, and we had no clue as to why.
After all the hard work he had put into closing this deal, Henry was not ready to give up. He was determined to prove himself (little did he know, I already had full faith in him by this point). Henry decided the best solution was pushing a phone meeting with the two employees and the CIO. After several objections by the two employees, they finally agreed to talk.
That’s when everything went crazy. Henry started out the call by asking a few questions, listening to the group’s responses, and trying to figure out what happened. Almost immediately, the two employees started going at each others’ throats. Not 10 minutes into the call, the woman revealed that the two had previously been married, but the husband had an affair that destroyed their relationship. Another few very uncomfortable minutes went by, with the two just laying everything on the line in front of the CIO, Henry, and I. Eventually the CIO shut down the call, apologized, and a few days later, we closed the deal.
It was in that moment I knew, Henry was destined for greatness. In organizing this phone call and through careful listening, he was able to get to the root of an extremely complicated problem. It was unlike anything I had ever seen in my career in sales. And that, my friends, is how I turned a new rep into a top seller. (However, sometimes what you really need to turn a rep into a top seller is a CRM that can help your reps reach more prospects and close more deals. Check out how Spiro can help your sales team do just that!)