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18 Proven Sales Tactics That Work in Any Industry

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Developing a strong sales program is the most critical aspect of any business. Without effective sales strategies, companies will not be able to compete and grow. Sales professionals must learn how to implement proven sales tactics that work. These sorts of sales tactics do more than just help them to close individual sales; they help to generate additional prospects for future sales.

As a sales team manager, one of your responsibilities is to provide your team with effective sales training and sales strategies that will increase your company’s profits. Effective sales processes are not just about working hard and putting in long hours. In fact, many sales teams work long and hard without experiencing results.

sales professional at work

Effective sales strategies involve employing the best strategies in the right situations. Here are 18 sales tactics that can work for sales teams in every industry.

  1. Be persistent with leads and develop the habit of following up with each customer.

    According to the latest sales research, 80 percent of sales transactions require 5 interactions after the first contact with a customer. Many salespeople are primarily concerned with immediate sales. If they do not get the sale at the first meeting, they silently give up and continue their hunt for the next immediate sale. However, savvy sales professionals understand that they must nurture viable leads until an action is taken. These ‘rock star’ sales professionals send emails, direct mail, make phone calls or send brochures to customers at designated intervals. By taking this action, your customers will think of you when it is time to make their next purchases.

  2. Solve your customers’ problems.

    Successful businesses thrive in competitive industries because they provide solutions to meet their customers’ needs. There are many sales professionals who do not fully understand their roles in the transaction. Consider this fact. As many as 70 percent of your leads are reaching out to you to solve their problems. When customers contact your sales team, your sales professionals must be able to demonstrate to them how they can quickly and easily solve their problems.

  3. Develop the ability to actively listen to customers.

    Customers have access to pages of information on the internet. In many instances, they may be as knowledgeable as your sales team. When sales professionals interact with knowledgeable customers, they might be tempted to talk constantly to show them that they are qualified. It is important to remind your salespeople that they should never get into a knowledge power struggle with customers. Sales professionals should always listen more than they talk. Simply listening to customers’ answers can be one of the most effective sales tactics in your team’s arsenal. They should ask questions that probe into their clients’ thought processes and carefully consider the responses. The goal is to make customers feel as if they are respected throughout the sales process.

  4. Use polite terms when you discuss the competition.

    Your sales team should always strive to present themselves in a positive light and use professional language. There is nothing that screams unprofessional like using derogatory terms to discuss other people or companies. Although customers may participate in the negative conversation, bad mouthing any person or company is never a good sales tactic. If a competitor does not have a good reputation, the members of your sales team should remain neutral.

  5. Earn your referrals before you ask for them.

    Sales professionals know that referrals are the proverbial ‘holy grail’ of marketing. In fact, 91 percent of customers will provide a referral contact to a salesperson that they like. Before you think about asking your customers for referrals, you should focus on providing them with a quality customer service experience. During the transaction, your goal is to develop positive relationships with your customers. After you have determined that they are happy with your services, it is a good idea to pursue the referrals. When it comes to soliciting referrals, timing is important.

  6. Ask for referrals from your customers.

    You might not believe it, but only 11 percent of sales professionals ask clients for referrals. According to this data, the majority of salespeople are leaving money on the table. Most customers are generous, and they would happily share your good customer service with friends, family members and colleagues, but you have to ask. If your sales team waits for their customers to initiate a conversation about referrals, it might never happen. Teach your sales team how to integrate referral conversations into the sales process at the appropriate time.

  7. Adhere to strict deadlines with your customers.

    Sales professionals must create a sense of urgency with customers, or the deals will take much longer than necessary. Changing deadlines according to the whims of each customer makes sales professionals lose credibility. The old adage, where there is a will there is a way, applies here. If customers want to meet the obligations of a transaction by the deadline, they will definitely find a way to make it happen.

  8. Develop relationships with your customers.

    Without customer relationships, it can seem as if you are always in the vicious cycle of trying to ‘drum up’ new business. Your past customers can be an excellent source of new transactions for years to come. When your initial transaction is completed, you do not have to end the relationship at that point. Find creative ways to keep in contact with your customers even after you close the deal.

  9. Identify your customers’ needs and meet them.

    Sales professionals should never lose sight that the only purpose of the sales transaction is to help customers. Since transactions are closely associated with money, it is easy to lose sight of this fact. Create a list of questions that you can use to pinpoint exactly what the customer needs from the transaction. These questions will enable you to save time with customers and get to the heart of the matter. Once customers believe that you understand their predicament, they will work with you to meet their needs.

  10. Be able to distinguish a lead from a customer and act accordingly.

    Brace yourself for this disheartening fact. According to a report by Gleanster Research, only 25 percent of all leads are legitimate and ready to complete a transaction. Leads are potential transactions, and you cannot bank your future on potential. You should categorize your leads and create campaigns to interact with each type. For example, warm leads should have a different marketing strategy than cold calls. Time is a limited resource. It is best to use it wisely.

  11. Solicit targeted leads.

    A difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn is that every person with a pulse will not be a customer. Since this is the case, sales professionals must create a strategic plan to attract customers that fit their target markets. One way to do this is to make good use of technology to find leads that could use your services. For example, credit professionals who are targeting people who are recovering from bankruptcy can use the public record to find people who fit this profile. Once you have found your potential customers, create a customized sales pitch that will appeal to each demographic.

  12. Learn to uncover each customer’s pain points.

    Television advertisements are known for pushing the viewer’s hot buttons in order to get them to take action. Fear of loss is the most common pain points that advertisers address. The primary mission of every sale professional, as emphasized in our negotiation training courses, is to find a customer’s pain points and use them to their advantage. Ron Shapiro said it best when he stated, “In order to get what you want, help them get what they want.” Sales professionals can start the search for pain points by asking closed-ended questions that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. As the customer begins to feel comfortable, the salesperson should ask open-ended questions that will prompt customers to reveal additional information. Once the vital information is discovered, salespeople can use it to help their customers take action.

  13. Master the art of storytelling.

    When sales professionals meet with customers, they are usually armed with all sorts of facts and data. Although data may seem important, studies suggest that only 5 percent of people remember statistics after a presentation. However, an impressive 63 percent of people remember stories after a presentation. Sales professionals need to arm themselves with stories about relevant experiences of people who have received favorable results after using their products and services.

  14. Stand by your product or service and offer some type of guarantee.

    If your customers are willing to part with their cash, your company should at least be willing to offer a guarantee on the product or service. The guarantee can be a refund or replacement. If you are afraid of most of your customers taking you up on a money back guarantee policy, you should not be. Less than 10 percent of customers return items each year. A product or service guarantee provides your customers with peace of mind that lets them know that they are protected in the event that something goes awry.

  15. Find prospects who want the things you have to sell.

    The best way to navigate through water is to go with the current instead of swimming against it. In sales, going with the current means that if you are selling chicken, your leads are people who like chicken. If your prospects are vegan, then it will be nearly impossible to sell your chicken products to them. If you want to be certain that your clients need the items you are selling, you should pre-qualify them before you actively market to them.

  16. Develop compelling goals and an actionable plan.

    Successful people know where they want to go, and they develop an action plan to help them propel toward their destination. Goal-setting and planning are critical to any sales team’s success. According to a study conducted by Inc. Magazine, sales teams that set goals realized a 28 percent increase in sales. Teaching goal-setting strategies should be a mandatory part of every organization’s corporate sales training manual.

  17. Show customers proof that your product or service actually works.

    When you look at infomercials for weight loss products, they often show ‘before and after’ pictures of previous users of the products. They understand that new customers are motivated by social proof. Sales professionals should keep customer testimonials in a binder or in their laptops to share with customers. When customers are able to view the visible proof, they will be more likely to invest in your product or service.

  18. Maintain a positive mindset.

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by the number of sales professionals who develop a jaded outlook because of sales slumps. Sales professionals must make every effort to remain positive in good and tough times. Developing a positive attitude has many benefits. Customers can tell when you are not in a good mood, and it will affect the transaction. A positive outlook helps sales professionals look for solutions to pending problems. When your sales professionals are positive, they will be able to handle stressful situations.

The above list isn’t just a collection of interesting tips—these are proven sales strategies that work. In this competitive business environment, sales professionals need to learn all the tricks of the trade in order to close a deal. By using these sales tactics that work, your sales team can learn to thrive in any economic climate.

5 Recommendations For an Effective Leadership Training Program

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People throw the phrase “natural-born leader” around all the time these days. While some people may seem to have an innate talent for leadership, most of the time, leadership is learned through hard work and dedication.

Often, company leaders are employees who have risen up the ranks, getting promoted for great job performance. While good work should, of course, be rewarded, this can lead to managers and executives who are excellent engineers or salesmen, but who have very little ability as a leader. To counteract this problem, many organizations choose to implement extensive leadership training programs.

But what is it that makes an effective leadership training program? While our training is often a great fit for leaders and included within a leadership curriculum, we do not offer leadership training. As a result, here are a few objective thoughts on what separates the best leadership training from the rest:

1. Tailor the course to fit the situation.

When it comes to executive education, there is no such thing as “one size fits all.” Even  the core concepts that are usually covered are made relevant in a different way based on the audience. Simply put, training must be customized to suit your specific participants’ and organization’s needs. What specific goals does your organization have? What problems will you face that other organizations may not have to worry about? Putting in the work to understand your organization’s needs as you build your management training programs is a worthwhile exercise in itself and certainly makes the training more effective.

2. Prioritize listening over talking.

Whether you’re heading up a single project, leading a small team, or directing an entire company, the ability to listen will be one of the greatest skills you can develop. Great leaders are able to engage with their team members on a deeper level by listening to what they’re saying and acting accordingly. When those leaders are able to truly listen, they show their team members that the solution is about more than just looking good—it’s about real collaboration and finding a lasting solution. In our negotiation training courses, we emphasize listening to the other party to determine their interests, a skill that absolutely extends extends to leadership training. By listening to your team more than talking, you can gather additional insights, both into the situations at hand and into your team members themselves. Leading a team effectively involves having all the information, and paying careful attention to what your team is saying is one of the best ways to make that happen.

3. Emphasize accountability.

In terms of leadership training programs, accountability means two things. First, it means that you should hold your employees accountable for participating in the leadership training course. Your course should encourage your employees to constantly work on improving themselves. But accountability goes beyond just showing up at the class. Accountability also means that, while leaders delegate tasks, the responsibility is never delegated. A good leader holds himself or herself responsible for the results their team brings in, regardless of the outcome.

4. Don’t let it get bogged down with fluff.

What do we mean by fluff? Essentially, we’re talking about all of the abstract, unfocused techniques that commonly show up in so many training programs. While it’s important for your leaders to be motivated, those “motivational” technique can only get them so far. It may feel good in the moment, but real-world practical skills are what will lead to consistent, reliable leaders at your organization. What’s the best practice? Rather than standing up on stage reciting platitudes, present tools and demonstrate their potential impact on relevant situations that your leaders will face.

5. Reinforcement

Leadership training, like any other soft skill training, should go beyond individual events. Your company’s leaders are some of its most valuable resources, so it would be prudent to invest in them and make their training and development an ongoing process. Follow up on a regular basis after the initial training to refresh what they have learned, reinforce important lessons, and layer on more advanced material.

Business Lessons From Elon Musk

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Elon Musk has radically disrupted three major industries. Just a few years ago, his plan for SpaceX to land and reuse rockets was deemed impossible by most experts. Tesla’s mission to start a new American car company focused solely on electric vehicles was considered laughable as well. Musk’s plans to dramatically transform the electric storage industry with his Gigafactory was derided as a dangerously risky scheme. Yet despite his vocal critics, Musk is making waves and effecting change.

The principles outlined below that drive Musk’s success can drive yours as well.

Dare to Attempt a Unique Solution

In every business Elon Musk has been involved with, he has brought a vision of a new way of doing things that transformed the industry. It takes courage to do more than talk about thinking outside the box. It is a lot easier to present a slightly different spin on a tried-and-true sales pitch than to dare to try something unique. Great success often comes from those willing to put in the effort demanded to make such ideas succeed.

Align Your Goals with a Higher Purpose

Elon Musk works more hours in a week than many people work in a month. Tesla and Musk’s home power packs factory are driven by his conviction that we must take drastic action to stop pollution. SpaceX was founded on the belief that we must have a sustained presence on Mars to avoid potential disaster on earth. If meeting your sales goals is just a matter of keeping the manager happy or getting a bigger paycheck, those motivations will rarely push anyone to put in the effort needed to be truly successful. When you find the higher purpose in your life and see your sales goals as a way of achieving that purpose, you will find yourself working harder and succeeding more.

Embrace Your Failures

SpaceX’s first three rocket launches ended in disaster, and Tesla almost failed as setbacks mounted. Yet Elon Musk did not just move on from failure. Rather, he openly embraced it and owned up to it. Owning up to failure is a difficult and humbling process. We often experience the most growth because of what we learn from failure. Embrace your failures and make them a part of your success in the future.

While few people have the drive and ingenuity to succeed to the extent Elon Musk has, by drawing from his approach, anyone can enjoy greater success, meet sales goals, and find new ways to expand their business.

What the Navy SEALs Can Teach You About Leadership and Getting Results

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When it comes to high-pressure, time-sensitive missions, there are few people in the world more skilled at delivering results than the Navy SEALs. While the missions the SEALs go on are far different than you will face in the conference room or on the sales floor, the way they go about their business teaches valuable lessons you can apply today.

Meticulous Planning Leads to Success

While the missions the Navy SEALs carry out are undoubtedly dangerous, these soldiers are not thrill junkies who thrive on risk. In fact, the SEALs go into every mission confident of success and with reasonable certainty that everyone on their team will come back alive and well. This is accomplished through meticulously planning every aspect of the mission.

Planning your sales campaign should be just as thorough as the SEALs’ planning of their missions. What will you do if your original pitch doesn’t succeed? Plan and plan some more, and your odds of success rise dramatically.

Empower Subordinates

When the SEALs take a fortified position, not only must everyone be familiar with the plan, but also they must be ready to improvise on their own should something critical go wrong in their area of responsibility. That duty to improvise means the leadership must be willing to accept the decisions made by subordinates and support them to make them successful. While there’s never a doubt as to who is in charge, everyone has to have the ability to do what it takes to succeed.

You likely reached a position of leadership because you excelled on a regular basis. While empowering those around you may feel risky, it improves the chances of your success overall. Create freedom for anyone to deviate from the plan if that’s what success requires and back them up as much as possible to ensure success.

Humility Does Not Mean Weakness

After every engagement, the SEALs have an after-action briefing, often referred to as the “hot-wash.” Each member relates the action from their perspective and is honest about not only what they did right and wrong individually, but also about the actions of their team members. Everyone’s input is considered, and the newest member of a team may openly point out a mistake the commander made without fear of retribution.

This approach by the SEALs shows that takes humility to openly confront mistakes and to keep an open mind when hearing mistakes pointed out by others. Create an atmosphere where others are free to help you learn from your mistakes, and you will find success coming your way more often.

While most of us will not make life-and-death decisions, learning these basic principles from those who have put them into practice under extreme conditions can only make you stronger and more successful.

Facing Employee Retention Challenges in 2018

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Employee retentionThe U.S. unemployment rate is low, and companies are cranking up recruiting efforts. Organizations will face a challenge in the year ahead to keep current employees from being lured away by companies offering attractive benefits and innovative perks. Businesses can attract and keep employees by improving digital efficiency, providing relevant feedback and matching people with their passions for improved job satisfaction.

Intentionally Endorse Culture

When employees believe in what their organization stands for, they are more loyal and engaged. Make creating a positive culture top priority when it comes to employee retention. Define the values most important to your brand and seek ways to communicate and practice those ideals throughout your organization.

Analyze and tweak every step of onboarding to highlight those values in company policies and practices. Make sure training gives specific steps for how to incorporate them in workplace interactions, not just with outside clients.

Develop Leadership

Supervisors often obtain their position because they were effective as lower-level employees. While they might have been the strongest member of their team, they don’t necessarily have the skills to be effective management.

One of the biggest reasons employees leave their job is because of conflict with a supervisor. Offer leadership training to provide the communication skills necessary to effective relationships with employees.

Prioritize Growth

Some employees change jobs because they see another company as an opportunity to get ahead. If your staff feels stuck in their current positions, they are likely to experience frustration and defeat. Instead of losing your talent to the competition, keep them when you do the following:

  • Offer performance-based bonuses or other perks to top performers.
  • Provide training and staff development that gives employees skills they need to be promoted.
  • Let staff members know the career opportunities available and the ways your company can help them reach their goals.
  • Allow employees to cross-train so they learn a wide range of skills.
Make Your Offer Better

Money isn’t everything, but employees are lured away when they can make more with your competitor. Make your compensation package as attractive as possible. Salaries and bonuses are a major part of what attracts talent, but other factors can be just as important. Health insurance, flexible scheduling, vacation time and retirement packages also play into an employee’s decision to stay with your organization or go somewhere else.

Know what the competition offers so your staff isn’t lured away by a few dollars. When Glassdoor analyzed job transitions, they found base pay that is 10 percent higher makes it 1.5 percent less likely employees will leave.

Invest in retaining your current workforce by creating a positive place in which they thrive. The productive work environment that results will improve your bottom line and attract top talent to add to your team.

Own the Room by Building Your Leadership Presence

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You know it when you see it. Someone walks in the room and before they even speak, they exude authority and trustworthiness. Presence is difficult to define, but it can be developed. It doesn’t come from achieving results, and it isn’t always dependent on personality; instead, impression management plays a big part. Teach sales professionals to show up the way they want others to see them for improved success.

Focus on Authenticity

You want to create an impression of confidence and ability, but developing presence isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. Draw others in and have a positive impact by being your best self.

What are your biggest strengths? When you were most successful, what key traits did you display to bring about that success? What are your best listening skills? Analyze where you are strongest and allow those traits to amplify as you develop your personal presence.

ConfidenceChange Your Posture

Self-confidence is an element critical to success. Sales might be one of the professions where projecting self-confidence is most challenging, since every interaction holds the potential for rejection. Men and women who have been in the profession for any length of time have been rejected, caught off guard, asked unanswerable questions and received criticism for the products and services they represent.

Project confidence by first changing your physical posture. Draw your shoulders back and raise your chin. If it helps, stand for a minute with your hands on your hips like a comic book superhero and find the confidence that lies within.

Activate confidence not just in your body, but in your brain by thinking back to when you met your goals, communicated successfully and walked out of a meeting feeling like a rock star. You don’t need to play back every aspect of the interaction, just connect with the emotional memory and bring back that positive sensation.

Practice Composure

Even if you walk in full of self-confidence, your feelings can quickly deflate under pressure. Recognize that even if things go well, your body will experience stress. Make sure your body language continues to communicate authority.

Know your product or service, understand why it’s the best value for your client, and allow stress to roll off your back. Recognize that judgement, criticism, and suspicion aren’t about you and respond from a position of calm. Your truthfulness, empathy, and credibility will build the solid relationships that lead to success.

The Right Relationship With Your Sales Team

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Managing a sales team is often rewarding, but it’s not without its stresses. There’s a fine line between your relationships with your team members – they need to trust you for support and feedback but should also feel comfortable enough to come to you for advice. Sales managers often struggle to toe the line between trusted professional confidante and friend. Here’s how to keep your relationship with your sales team professional while still instilling a sense of confidence and trust.

 

There’s No “One-Size-Fits-All” Approach

Your sales team is a group of diverse individuals. As such, they’re all motivated by different things. Some of your employees may be experienced and have honed their salesperson persona, while others are less experienced but hungrier to prove themselves. One of the biggest mistakes sales managers makes is treating everyone the same way. You’ll want to train people based on their own unique motivators. Some seek approval and praise, while others are focused on self-improvement. Find out what makes individual team members tick and work with the results.

 

Training’s No Such Things as “One-and-Done”

Sales training isn’t simply a matter of holding a bunch of exercises and calling it a day. It’s not enough for your team to simply hit the objectives; they should be constantly vying for the next goal. Encourage this attitude by viewing training as an ongoing process. There are several ways you can incorporate training into your sales team’s everyday lives. Consider periodic lessons on cold-calling and generating leads. Ask your top performers to lead a class on what they’ve learned during their years in the business.

Lastly, cater your lessons to each individual on the team. Some may struggle with cold calling scripts, while others may have trouble with lead generation. With concentrated and individualized attention, your employees will feel more engaged in their work – and your sales will benefit.

 

Create a Team Attitude

In sales, sometimes workers feel more like they’re competing than working collaboratively. As sales lead, it’s your job to bring your workers together to drive success. Create a shared view of the competition and you’ll be rewarded with a boost in company morale and an increase in your company’s ability to sustain growth.

Managing a sales team isn’t for the faint of heart. If you follow these tips, you’ll set a healthy foundation and forge relationships based on mutual respect and team effort.

Putting the “We” in Team

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While it’s long been said that “many hands make light work,” a team is more than just a group of people working on the same task. For a team to truly succeed, the individuals need to develop a cohesive bond that allows them to work in synch with each other. Even after you’ve assembled the right people for the job, your work isn’t done. Crafting a team is an active, ongoing process. An efficient team is like a complex machine, and like any other machine, it requires maintenance.

Outline clear roles for each team member.

One of the best ways to build team unity is to make it clear what each team member’s role is. Build a specific process that your team members follow when performing regular tasks, and make each team member’s part in that process very clear. This helps to prevent a situation where one team member ends up doing all the work, which can foster resentment. The other team members may be performing other crucial job functions, but even the feeling of unfairly getting stuck with work that should be divided can lead to a toxic environment. Make sure your team members understand what their role is, as well as the roles of their coworkers, if possible.

Make sure every member of the team feels valued.

In addition to ensuring that team members are aware of their roles, they should also recognize the value they bring to the team. According to a Gallup poll, the number one reason Americans leave their jobs is because they don’t feel that they are appreciated. This certainly includes paying them a fair wage, but it goes beyond that.

When you meet with your team, you should encourage feedback. Make sure that everyone is included in the process and has the opportunity to speak. They don’t have to speak up all the time—in fact, some team members may prefer not to—but it’s important that they know they’re welcome to add to the discussion and that their feedback will be given fair consideration.

Actively listen to your team’s recommendations, as well. Even if you disagree with an idea or suggestion, don’t just dismiss it out of hand. Give it fair consideration. If a team member feels that his or her thoughts are being ignored, it can lead to a toxic environment and damage the team’s cohesion.

Train your team, and revisit that training. (Just once won’t cut it.)

Teams evolve over time. Key team members leave, new workers are hired, dynamics shift, and over time, you can end up with a completely team than you started with. Turnover is particularly common within a sales team, which is why it’s crucial to train them on a regular basis. New employees of any type need to be shown the way things are done within your organization, but veteran team members also often need a course correction. Whether it’s sales management training to unite your team around the best way to move a lead through the sales pipeline or a refresher course on workflow management, training your team helps to ensure that everyone is at the top of their game.

Monitor and discuss team dynamics.

As a manager, it’s your job to keep an eye on the business process, but it’s also one of your key responsibilities to be aware of the dynamics between your team members. Take note of what is working and what is not.

When you meet with your team members as a group, have open discussions about how you can solve problems the team is having. Don’t use the time to criticize each other or whine about circumstances—use the meetings as opportunities to solve the problem together. Encourage discussions, and recognize positive team achievements.

Meet with your team members individually, as well. Sometimes, there are things a worker doesn’t want to say in a group setting, but they will often open up in a more private environment. Take note of your workers’ concerns and address those concerns.

Hopefully, over time, your team members will learn to communicate better and grow to trust one another. Healthy communication is at the heart of any effective team, and encouraging that communication is one of your most important jobs. Invest the effort into facilitating a conversation among all members of your team and they’ll start to come through for you and, perhaps more importantly, for each other.

Lessons From the Avengers: How to Assemble a Super-Powered Sales Team

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If we’ve learned anything from the rampant success the Avengers movies continue to see, it’s that if you pull together the right group of individuals, anything is possible. But it’s not just a matter of putting a bunch of talented people into the same room and telling them to do something amazing. It requires the right people with the right abilities and the right training, plus a dash of that secret sauce that turns a group of strangers into a team.

As you learn how to build a sales team, you’ll face some of the same challenges. Sure, you’re not trying to stop an alien force from destroying New York or fighting a megalomaniac robot with the charisma of David Spader, but you still want a group of people who know how to work together and produce results. You’ll need to assemble team members who have the right mix of influence training and natural-born talent to convince customers that they’re making the right decision when they choose to do business with your company. So let’s take a page out of Nick Fury’s handbook and have a look at some of the lessons the Avengers can teach about putting a team together.

Spoilers from the movies may follow.

Lay out and prioritize your requirements

Before you even start recruiting, you need to determine what exactly your sales team is missing and how you can fill those gaps. In order to find the right people to fill out your team, you have to know just what you’re looking for, whether that’s someone who can quickly understand customers and make a connection, someone who knows the product backwards and forwards and can recite intricate specs from memory, or a viking god with a billowing cape and the power to control lightning.

Personality

You want your team to be able to work well in a wide variety of circumstances. If one team member is trying to hog the spotlight and take sales away from another, it leads to bad blood. A team needs to be able to function as a team, and they need to be willing to place the team’s goals first.

At the same time, not just any temperament is cut out for sales. You need teammates who are willing to put themselves out there and chase down leads. They have to want to go out there and actively sell your product. You can usually determine whether an interviewee has the right personality when you meet them, but a DISC profile assessment can also be a helpful tool as you choose members for your team.

Experience

Experience is one of the most effective teachers you can find, but it’s not always the first requirement in sales. In fact, it’s generally a good idea to have a wide range of experience on your team. Team members who have been working in the field a long time have often learned which techniques tend to work and which don’t. Meanwhile, team members who lack experience also haven’t had time to develop any bad habits and can bring fresh new perspectives with them.

Skills

Different workers have different skill sets, whether inborn or trained, and you want to fill out your team with a variety so your workers can handle different situations. Recognize which skills are just a part of who a person is and which can be taught. Sales and influence training can boost an employee’s effectiveness more than you might assume, but the person has to be willing to learn.

Build an effective hiring process

Once you’ve figured out the type of people you need to fill out your team, you need to lay out a plan for how to attract and recruit those people. In the case of Mr. Stark and Captain Rogers, SHIELD sent in a grizzled veteran with an eye patch and a wicked scar to talk to them about the “Avengers Initiative.” Meanwhile, Dr. Banner’s rage issues required a lighter touch in the form of a visit from a femme fatale who could manipulate even the most hardened criminals—and could handle herself in a tight spot, if necessary.

Fortunately, the team you’re putting together probably doesn’t include an enormous, green rage monster, but you still need a plan of attack that will bring in the right people.

Searching for candidates

Without a vast network of satellites orbiting the earth, you’ll need to resort to more mundane search tactics. There are several different ways to go about your hunt for new sales candidates.

Putting out ads and posting on job search sites provide a quick way to circulate the word that you are looking to hire, and it reaches a wide range, while referrals and recruiting events can help to bring in specialized applicants who will actively get things done.

Advertising

Placing ads in newspapers and on job boards is one of the fastest ways to reach a broad audience, but it also contains the least amount of pre-screening. If you have the time and resources to invest in weeding out the less-qualified candidates, though, chances are you’ll have a wide variety of options to choose from in order to best suit your team. Posting on LinkedIn has the added benefit of looking through a candidate’s online profile for qualifications that may get missed in the basic application.

Referrals

These referrals can come from current employees, people with whom you do business, family members, or friends. As long as the recommendation comes from someone whose opinions you trust, referrals are basically a way to have your candidates pre-screened to some degree before you even interview them.

If you want to encourage your current workforce to submit referrals, be sure to create some incentives so they’ll be more likely to do so.

Recruiting events

Job fairs and other recruiting events provide a lot of candidates for a relatively low investment. People who attend recruiting events are typically hungry for work, but other companies seeking to build their own sales teams will be actively competing for the same candidates. Show what sets your company apart from others and why the best candidates would want to join your team.

The interview

Just about anyone who has searched for a job before can tell you that it’s the employee’s first chance to make a good impression, but don’t forget that the same goes for you. If you want the best people to work for you, then show them why they want to work for you. Try to predict the types of questions they will ask beforehand and have answers prepared.

Remember that job applicants are basically trying to sell you something during their interview—themselves. Keep an eye out for just how they do that and take note of things like the way they present themselves, their body language, their grooming, and just how comfortable they seem to be with you. If they seem overly aggressive and pushy with you during the interview, they likely will be the same with your customers. If they feel more natural and genuine in their interest, they will likely be better equipped to put customers at ease.

Continue to hone your team, even after you hire

Sometimes, even after going through the process of searching for and hiring a candidate, you may realize that someone is just not the right fit for your team culturally. If you notice that a team member is having trouble working with your other team members, you may need to step in and make some changes. Extra training might be in order. If things don’t improve, you may need to let a team member go and replace them.

Emphasize ongoing training

While a state-of-the-art training facility in upstate New York—fully equipped with the best tech money can buy—may not be in your budget, you still need to make sure that your team members have their instincts honed and are ready to take on any situation. By regularly putting your team through sales and negotiation training, they can learn and refine the skills they need when they talk to customers and pull in that hard sale.

Proper sales training isn’t just a “do it once and then you’re good” sort of thing, and it’s definitely not just something you do when you need to fix a problem. Proper negotiation is a process rather than an event, and negotiation training is no different. Once you spot a problem, the time for training has probably already passed! Training is an opportunity for your team members to develop new skills and sharpen the ones they already have. After you have a big professional sales training event, continue to hold regular, smaller trainings among your team to keep the things your team has learned fresh in their minds. Encourage your team to teach and learn from each other, and as your team grows and evolves, hold additional formal training events, like those Shapiro Negotiations offers, to build your team’s skill base and fortify other skills they’ve learned.

Don’t skimp on the manager

For the most part, Nick Fury wasn’t on the front lines, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t know how to handle himself in an explosives-riddled car chase against a dozen heavily-armed HYDRA agents. Your team’s manager should be familiar with each of his team member’s capabilities and know in which situations to deploy each. The manager needs to understand the job better than anyone, and be able to get involved as needed.

Even when they’ve got a team of incredible salespeople, a mediocre sales manager will eventually lead to a mediocre team. A good manager knows just when to step in and encourage, where to coach salespeople and teach them new skills, and when the time is right to come back from presumed death and give an inspiring speech before the team leaves their safehouse and fights an army of killer robots on a flying island.

Encourage cooperation

Team members need to be able to work together. Some sales managers operate their teams under the facade that having their salespeople constantly competing hones their “killer instinct,” but that wastes a lot of potential and can eventually lead the team to implode. Some healthy competition is fine in sales, but team members should still put the group’s needs ahead of their individual wants. Otherwise,  it starts with a disagreement over a sale, and eventually, your two best team members are leading opposing factions, throwing explosive trucks at each other while the new guy grows to the size of a small office building and tears the wings off an airplane.

… Well.

Okay, so it probably won’t reach that point, but pitting your team members against each other all the time can still lead to bad feelings and worse results. Emphasize the fact that your sales team is just that—a team. Customers can tell when there are bad feelings between workers, as well, and it gives off an unpleasant feeling when teammates are trying to undermine each other. They’re all on the same side, and by working together, your team can achieve some pretty incredible results.

Once you learn how to build a sales team and then pull together the right group of people, anything is possible. Whether you’re trying to save the world or save your business, you want the best team you can put together fighting by your side. So bring in the right people. Give them strong leadership to point them in the right direction. Make sure they’re equipped with the best resources and the best training you can give them. Keep them focused and working together on the same goals.

Then maybe, after a hard, successful day in the trenches together, go out and grab some shawarma as a team.

3 Tips for Negotiating Your Salary

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Many people avoid asking for higher pay for fear of sounding pushy or entitled. However, if you know your work is valuable to your organization and worth more than you’re receiving, you should be able to argue your case effectively. Remember preparation is the only aspect of a negotiation you can control.

First, you need to know you have a solid case for higher pay. Everyone wants to believe their work is worth more than what they’re paid – but you need to know it before you bring up the subject. Once you do, it’s time to decide how to approach your supervisor.

Pick Your Battles

When you choose to initiate the conversation about your pay is as important as deciding to do it in the first place. Although our emotions shouldn’t affect our performance at work, things rarely play out this way, so you need to assess your superior’s state of mind before broaching the subject.

Typically, the best time to ask for more money is when the company has been doing well for a noticeable amount of time. A small rebound after a slow or difficult season isn’t ideal. Wait until the company is posting gains rapidly or after a particularly good year. Also, never forget that your time spent working for the company is a crucial part of your conversation. A good rule of thumb is to avoid asking for more pay for at least a year in your role, unless you are churning out extraordinary work on a regular basis that’s above and beyond expectations.

Know What You’re Worth

Once you think it’s time to have the talk about more money, you need to check your ammo and understand any precedents. Not only do you need a strong portfolio of work that displays your value as an employee and contributions to the company’s success, you also need to have a figure in mind. Do some research on professionals in your field and find a number that sounds reasonable. If you approach your supervisor with a precise number, you’re more likely to get what you want, as your supervisor will assume you’ve done your homework and know your value.

Special Tips for On-boarding

Salary negotiations are a bit easier when you have history with a company. Things get a bit trickier when you’re negotiating a starting salary during the interview and on-boarding process. Keep the following tips in mind for negotiating your starting salary:

• Let the interviewer bring up money first. Once the salary talk begins, never be the first to name a number. Let the interviewer give you a starting point and you’ll be in the power position once negotiations start. If you offer a number first, you run the risk of low-balling yourself with what you consider a lofty figure when the company was prepared to offer more.

• Know your value and aim high, just don’t be surprised if you are shot down. As long as you demonstrate value, the company will recognize your value. If it doesn’t, you may be better off looking elsewhere.

• Don’t bring up your salary at your previous job. This isn’t a benchmark and it’s not a great figure to reference when you’re joining a new company.

 

Sources:
http://www.employmentspot.com/employment-articles/salary-negotiation-learn-how-to-negotiate-for-a-higher-salary/
https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-negotiate-salary-37-tips-you-need-to-know
http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/how-to-negotiate-a-higher-salary.html
http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2014/03/31/job-seekers-8-tips-to-negotiate-your-starting-salary/#4453b77d548d
http://www.businessinsider.com/6-tips-for-negotiating-a-pay-raise-2013-10