If the stakes are life and death, like they are for the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, the question is not whether, but how much you should practice. Flying multiple 22-ton jets at speeds up to 500 mph, and with as little as 36 inches between them — side-by-side or upside-down — the stakes don’t get higher. Pilots must have a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet-flight hours. On top of their individual proficiencies, the squadron practices as a unit on roughly 120 training missions prior to its first Blue Angels performance.
A group sales meeting or pitch is neither a show nor a life-or-death moment. Yet, the stakes for a group sales meeting are high enough that you’ve asked others to contribute to the effort. Your “pilots” all bring individual proficiencies, but how much practice do you generally do as a unit prior to an important customer or prospect meeting?
PRACTICING FOR A TEAM SALE
Practice is about application with the intent to improve. Successful selling squads practice together not because a manager tells them to; effective teams practice as a group because they realize:
- Without it, they have a random chance of winning, and they’d rather stack the odds.
- Feedback is essential to strengthen individual contributions and the team’s performance.
- Repetition reduces anxiety for all members when it counts most: at the sales meeting or pitch.
- Talking through who is going to cover what section and what pages, while part of getting organized, fails to cover execution.
Leading a team during practice requires a salesperson to play the role of Director, the equivalent of the Blue Angels’ commanding officer. So, what’s involved?
- Commitment: When recruiting for your team, consider how open each member will be to investing time to practice with the team.
- Scheduling: Practicing takes a dedicated time and place. A tele- or video-conference is better than nothing. In-person practice beats a call because it better simulates the conditions you will face for an in-person sales meeting.
- More than talk: Rehearsing requires running through the key parts of your team’s pitch, not “Here’s where I will talk about our capabilities.” What will each person actually say?
- Feedback: Creating a feedback loop is essential to strengthening performance when it counts. That feedback can come from you, as the team leader, and by facilitating it among team members. High-performing teams also have access to expert coaching, whether it comes from a manager or an external sales coach.
- Trust: For someone to accept and incorporate feedback from others requires an environment of trust. Suggestions should be shared in the spirit of helping a customer, supporting a colleague, and winning.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Practice improves your team’s chances of winning the best possible outcome at a sales meeting. The good news is that what you’re aiming for is way easier and safer than orchestrating multiple fighter jets at high speeds and tight tolerances. If you want to win against able competitors, you need to be trained to skillfully play the team’s Director so practice occurs and is managed effectively.
Sound daunting? Leading a team in an effective sales call is straightforward when you approach it methodically. This eBook will show you how to effectively win more deals when teams are required.