Create a Culture of Learning

The profession of sales often gets a bad rap. Perceived as manipulative, self-serving and willing to promise you anything to get the sale, sales people are generally not considered trustworthy. Perhaps that’s why a mission of mine for years has been to change that perception.  There are days when it feels like an upward battle.  

A quick review of three sales emails that hit my inbox yesterday reminded me why buyers are so jaded towards sellers.  Broadcast messages that are generally not targeted at the right audience. Many are very poorly written, and in almost every single case the focus is on getting something.

I almost never see an email that is specifically customized to me, my needs as a business owner or even the type of business that I run. Unfortunately, this is not an exception. It has become commonplace for companies to batch and blast messaging hoping for some measurable return on the effort. Sales generally takes a message cued up by marketing and doesn’t bother to customize it to appeal to the person that are sending it too. This “spray and pray” mentality is lazy and ineffective, but it just keeps happening.

Relationships NOT contacts.

At Nimble, we believe in the power of connections and authentic, human conversations. After all, people will still buy from people that they know, they like and they trust. In order to nurture relationships and engage in conversations, rather than broadcasting sales pitches, you need the right kind of insights – relationship intelligence – to aid you. Arguably one of the most powerful features of the Nimble platform is gaining “Nimble Insights” on any contact, instantly from any app in your browser. No more skipping around from one social network to the next, using Nimble you can create and manage smart contact profiles anywhere you work. It is as easy as highlighting a name in a Web browser and letting Nimble build Smart Contact profiles automatically.  Simply “Nimble Contacts”  to see rich contact insights and team communication history on anyone, anywhere, then engage and build relationships as you’re working in web apps and browsing.

social networking

When did technology ever sell for you?

There have been predictions that as more buyers bypass the sales organization in favor of the web to make purchasing decisions; sales people will no longer be needed. Maybe that’s true if you sell commoditized widgets, but when it comes to selling complex solutions in a B2B environment, there will always be a need for sales people.

What will shift – what is shifting now – is the need for a different type of sales person.  Driven by buyer expectations, sales people need to be excellent communicators with strong listening and empathy skills, they need to ratchet up their business acumen and leadership capabilities, and they must ultimately care that what they sell improves their customers business.

The problem I see though is that sales people are largely not receiving the type of professional development that they need – informally or formally – to succeed given the new dynamics of business. And I’m not talking about being trained to pitch, rapid-fire, features and benefits. The days of the demo dolly are over!

Foster sales learning through collaboration and mentoring.

Even tools like Nimble, which are relatively easy to use, your sales people still will likely need training to help them. And that’s true when it comes to learning any new skill. It used to be more common for sales people to work together in district offices. As a result, through mentorship and collaboration, new sales folks entering the organization could learn from their more experienced peers, test ideas and practice their skills. Let’s face it; you might know how to text or use Twitter, but that doesn’t mean you know how to sell. Formal sales training programs are lacking leaving many sales people to simply wing it.

Dispersed sales teams add to the challenge. It is not uncommon for sales people to be working from their homes creating further isolation and missed opportunities to help them develop and refine their skills. In addition to putting sales development programs together that focus on people and business skills, why not encourage collaboration and mentoring across your sales organization using technologies like Skype or Google Hangouts?

I cannot think of a more important sales leadership priority than preparing your sales people to succeed in a business world that continues to evolve rapidly.  The question is will you give people development the focus that it deserves? And if you don’t, are you prepared to pay the price for failing to do so?

Speaking of learning and education.

In June, Nimble will be launching weekly “how to” classes to help users learn use Nimble to the fullest to build powerful relationships across multiple channels.  By getting up to speed more quickly, your be more successful using the platform in your business and sales activities. And, if you haven’t already, why not take the FREE 14-day Nimble Test Drive?  There is no credit card required, and you’ll be up and running in minutes.