Most sales people are good at telling you what they sell, not necessarily communicating how the customer will be ahead as a result, but they are good at telling. Regularly scheduled role play in team meeting will usually help you get ahead of that. While this will help with the delivery and to ensure that they are delivering the message, it does not ensure the message is right.
This is not always the fault of the front line rep; they will usually run with some version of what they are given. The version they run with will be determined by which camp of the ever popular ‘80/20’ they are in. The 20% is not the worry, they will take what they are given, understand how it will help drive objectives, and then enhance it based on their experience and past successes. The challenge is the 80%, whose version will be altered and diluted, delivering less results, leading the 80 Percenters to say “This doesn’t work, I just gonna do what got me so far.” This is where having role play as part of your routine once a month at the minimum, will allow the sharing of best practices, and practice. This coupled with the observations made while you are riding along to real prospect calls, should allow you to lead things in the right direction.
Once you have a couple rounds of role play and practice, spice things up a bit, and have your sales people articulate what their prospect is buying and why – rather than what they are selling and why.
Don’t be surprised if what you hear is the mirror opposite of what they said “they were selling”. In fact, many managers may themselves miss that, because they grew up the same system, and have become tone deaf to the message and have fallen victim to same message related brain washing as their reps. If you have the type customer base that will indulge, I would ask one to sit in and provide feedback, and I would also have you marketing participate so they can be hands on.
Going further, I suggest coupling the role play of why someone did not buy, with an actual opportunity review of the opportunity lost. In most instances sales people will point to price or product fit as reasons for loosing. At the same time, third party companies who are paid to carry out post mortems on lost opportunities consistently find that the real reason had more to do with reps’ inability to understand what the prospect was trying to do.
The best way to help reps change is to have them articulate what their prospect is buying, if they cannot do that, you can bet they will not be able to sell them. Once you can get them to do that, you can introduce a line of discovery that encourages prospects. A continuous rotation of role play: “What we sell/What they buy” will ensure you are offering real value to buyers, and success for your reps.