Sales professionals and sales leaders make quick moves to put out the fire of the day. In time, the approach to selling emerges from circumstances, not consistency. As a result, there are often as many selling strategies as there are managers.
This outcome is a problem for three reasons:
- Your product is your brand. Without consistent selling, your value message becomes unclear.
- Consistency is critical to team selling. More than ever, teams drive the sale. As sales professionals, SMEs, and executives work together to sell, it is critical that everyone works from the same core methodology.
- Inconsistent methodology creates a divide between multi-generational teams. New and established sales professionals diverge.
Here, we look at the three components of a consistent selling methodology. By creating a common sales language, sales leaders can drive long-term results and make changes to the method at scale for a more uniform customer experience.
Incorporate the Methodology into Onboarding
Sales professionals must be clear on the intended approach from the beginning. Therefore, the selling framework must be part of the onboarding process. This approach equips sales leaders to maintain uniformity as turnover occurs. Moreover, early exposure to a shared methodology can also help prevent turnover by instilling a sense of shared goals. The benefits of reducing turnover are considerable given that research shows that the median cost of turnover is 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary. In fact, turnover in the selling industry is twice that of the total labor force. This approach also helps sales professionals reach time to productivity faster.
Leaders can help new sales professionals retain what they learn during onboarding with a blended learning solution. This approach engages a variety of learning styles. For example, leaders can combine the team-oriented nature of instructor-led classroom experience with the self-paced approach of digital learning. While these different modalities have their own benefits, it is important to remember that they must all connect to the same core methodology. Finally, a team approach emerges when onboarding teaches everyone a common selling language. As a result, sales professionals can take an active role in helping one another.
Coach to a Consistent Framework
Coaching is what helps prevent the “drift” described above. Building consistency into coaching means ensuring that all leaders are coaching to the same principles. This approach underscores an important truth: driving a consistent methodology demands more than having all sales professionals on the same page. Leaders must also be united. They must all agree to convey the same message and support the same sales language.
They must also commit to devoting their time to coaching. Doing so is not without challenges. Consider research from McKinsey, which shows that managers devote 30 to 60 percent of their time to meetings and administrative work, leaving little time for coaching. These responsibilities are not the only reason coaching fades into the background. Many leaders let coaching responsibilities go because they fear that coaching means having all of the answers. However, even the best coaches rarely have all of the answers. Their effectiveness comes from a collaborative approach. They elicit answers from sales professionals and work together to overcome challenges.
Remember, coaching must touch on the entirety of the workforce. Some believe that coaching is for those who are new to the selling organization. However, leaders should address all sales professionals with coaching. A belief that coaching only applies to the early period of someone’s career is what creates an imbalance in selling language within a company.
Build a Sustainment Plan
Leaders need a clear, actionable, and measurable sustainment plan. This plan should include specifics like regular intervals for checking that the sales team is aligned to one approach. The plan should also include explicit expectations, which make it clear that sustainment is part of the job. Accountability is key. It is also a routine, requiring regular feedback from leaders. Continual feedback is a benefit for two reasons. First, it keeps efforts aligned. Second, it offers the clarity of expectations that many sales professionals find helpful. Consider that “only about half of employees strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work,” according to research from Gallup.
Sustainment works best when the culture is shaped around it. All major organizational decisions must consider how any change will positively or negatively impact sustainment. This consideration ensures that sustainment will become part of the long game. Leaders should communicate the importance of maintaining the selling framework despite temporary distractions. Making sustainment work means revisiting training when necessary to refresh skills. Leaders can also provide on-the-job tools for performance support.
Consistency drives success in all areas of sales. It keeps your organization’s value proposition clear. It enables teams to sell cohesively, and it joins multi-generational groups.
Achieving consistency means:
- Making the selling language and framework clear during onboarding so that every sales professional works from the same foundational skills
- Coaching all sales professionals to the same methodology
- Creating a sustainment plan that operates with specificity, measurability, and continual feedback