Four Tips For Developing A High-Value ‘Strategic’ Sales Team

Barrett Riddleberger, Founder, Resolution SystemsBuilding a strategically focused team is a must if you want to achieve greater sales volume year-over-year and reap the rewards of long-term customer loyalty.

Do you have a strategically focused team that knows how to select the right prospects and grow your business over the long-term?  Or do you have salespeople who consistently go after quick and easy, low-volume, low-margin deals instead?

Building a strategically focused team is a must if you want to achieve greater sales volume year-over-year and reap the rewards of long-term customer loyalty.  Strategic sales are far more complex than tactical deals and take time, though.  That means you need individuals with strong problem-solving skills and the patience to persevere. 

By comparison, tactical salespeople rely on a winning personality or other external factors for success.  They typically can gain quick favor with a prospect, but are apt to falter later in the sales process when faced with complex issues. 

Can tactical salespeople become strategic?  Though not all can, with the proper mentoring, many can become more successful at complex sales.  You can broaden their portfolio of experience and elevate their approach beyond the quick fix. 

Start by teaming them with a sales manager or senior colleague who understands how to navigate through a complex sale from a strategic mindset.  The experience they accumulate can be career-changing and a real boost to your business.  

Here are four tips for mentoring the tactical, personality-driven members of your team and turning them into strategic sales champions:

1. Demonstrate the power of consultative selling. Show them how to continually probe and listen to the needs of your prospects.  Buying what you sell must be related to the business issues and opportunities that keep your clients awake at night.  That means broadening the discussion beyond the specific features of your product.  Show the members of your team how to become a trusted advisor, who listens, understands and makes appropriate recommendations.

2. Encourage patience. The bigger the deal, the longer the selling process and the higher level of prospect you’ll be working with.  Senior executives are almost always strategic buyers who are looking for solutions, not products.  They have the means to pool resources and can acquire money much more easily than lower-level managers. 

Help your tactical salespeople expand their sights, raise their expectations and meet these executives where they are.  Trying to put together a quick, tactical deal will simply blow the opportunity.

3. Define their role. Clearly define each mentoring relationship and what you want your tactical salespeople to learn.  Help them to understand that the experiences they will be exposed to are designed to prepare them for going it alone in the future. 

Make certain they understand that though they will play a secondary role to their mentor, the education and experience they garner will be their reward.  Over time, let them take a larger role in this “team selling” process until they are ready to take on new opportunities solo.

4. Debrief often. Ask pointed questions after each sales call to drive home key points.  What did you learn today? How did you feel about what the prospect said or did?  Why do you think I handled the situation the way I did? What would you have done differently in the past if faced with the same situation? What will you do when faced with the same situation now? How do you think the changes you’re making will impact your future career?

Many tactical, personality-driven salespeople can change with the proper mentoring.  They simply need an up-close look at strategic selling so they can learn how to become a trusted consultant to your clients. 

Set a high watermark, establish a mentor relationship, provide real-world experiences and debrief often throughout the process. Those worth retaining on your team will quickly rise to the occasion and meet new strategic sales opportunities head on.

Barrett Riddleberger is founder of the sales consulting firm Resolution Systems and author of “Blueprint of a Sales Champion:  How to Recruit, Refine and Retain Top Sales Performers” For more information, visit www.resolutionsystemsinc.com

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