Tell Them HOW, Not WHAT

Two guys used to go duck hunting together each year.

They would go to the same blind and the same location every year. Neither one of them had their own hunting dog, so they really liked that location because they could rent a hunting dog. After several trips, they found a retriever that was a particularly good hunting dog, so they requested him every time over a period of years. The dog’s name was Salesman. He did what he was supposed to do, moved quickly, and came back with the prize.

One time the two friends went out on their regular hunting trip and requested their favorite dog, he was no longer available. He was so good at his job that he had gotten a promotion. His owner said, “You don’t want him anymore. His name is now Sales Manager. He doesn’t hunt anymore. All he does now is sit around and bark at everyone.”

Unfortunately, this joke is funny because there is truth to it.

All too often managers sit around and tell people what to do. They say: “You need to put in more activity. Just close them. Don’t forget to follow-up. You should be asking for referrals.”

As a business consultant that specializes in elevating sales, I get to see behind the curtain and observe the inner workings of sales teams the way that no one else really does. Before we build and deliver sales manuals, onboarding processes, training platforms, etc., we want to know certain information. The sales process that is followed, the systems that are used, the culture of the team, and how the salespeople are lead and managed. This is how we know what is really working and what isn’t, as well as what currently exists and what doesn’t. To learn this, we shadow the salespeople on sales calls out in the field or on the phones. We read every training manual, review every sales tool, sit in on meetings, and interview sales team members and managers at all levels.

We often find is that those responsible for managing the sales team tell their people what to do rather than showing them how to do it.

For example, they might say, “You just need to see more people.” And the rather ineffective salesperson who feels like they are working hard just feels misunderstood. Or the sales manager might say, “Don’t just stop when you hear the first objection.” But the salesperson does not know the psychological process they need to follow to isolate the objection, empathize, respond, and reclose. The salesperson thinks they are doing it right, but they are not.

If you want to help your salespeople to be successful, don’t just tell them what to do, show them how!


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