by Keith E. Smith
So, you own or manage a business. The business must sell its product in order to survive and thrive. Your business has a steady stream of customers, and you have plenty of people on staff. There’s only one problem; the people you’ve hired have little to no sales experience. This is a scenario I have often witnessed, especially in small to mid-sized wellness businesses such as massage, yoga, and fitness franchises.
What do you do? You could fire everyone and start over, but that is both time consuming and expensive. Besides, you have good people and they are great at customer service. They just do not know how, or do not want, to sell.
Sales and salespeople have long endured negative stereotypes. Despite the fact that every product ever created had to be sold, most people still have a negative view of the world of sales. Some of the reasons for this are legit and some are not, but delving into that is not the purpose of this article. The point is that, whenever you set out to sell anything, you must have a strategy for overcoming this preconceived viewpoint.
When you have employees who view salespeople in a negative way, they will never be successful in selling. How can they succeed when it means they must become the very thing they despise? The question that business owners and managers must answer is, “Other than firing everyone, how can I fix this?”
The good news is that this is not an insurmountable obstacle. If you have hired good people who are open to learning and being coached, then you can definitely break through that barrier and build a highly successful sales team. I know because I, along with my business partner Mandy R. Clark, did exactly that when we were co-managing a massage studio.
How did we do it? We did it by jettisoning typical sales jargon such as scripts, quotas, closing ratios, objections, prospects, and the dreaded role-playing. Understand that we did not stop using these things, we simply reframed them by using different words and techniques.
·Instead of saying, “Learn these scripts,” we would say, “Here’s some words to help keep you on track until you come up with your own words.”
·Instead of saying, “We are going to role-play,” We would say, “Let’s practice with each other so we aren’t caught off guard by a customer.”
·We did not refer to people as prospects, they were customers or clients.
·Instead of “pitching” to clients, our team had conversations with clients.
·We did not give our team quotas, we gave them bonus levels.
Besides using different terminology, we coached our team to become consultants. Instead of trying to sell a customer a product (in our case we were selling monthly membership programs), we trained our people to identify the needs of a customer, then help them solve the need by offering the customer different options. Instead of selling, they were educating and offering solutions. If you are experienced in sales then you probably know this is called consultative selling.
It’s easy to assume that these simple changes could not possibly make much of an impact. However, not only was the impact significant, it produced record-breaking results. Within three months, closing ratios went from 11% to 30%. In fact, so many memberships were being sold that we began to wonder how we were going to accommodate so many members. The nine year old record of total memberships was blown completely out of the water. Attrition was very low and more than two-hundred members were added in less than a year.
Another wonderful side-effect of this was employee turnover was almost zero. The team was making money, and the business was making money. The atmosphere was positively charged and people looked forward to coming to work. The best part of all was seeing how the lives of our people were being transformed. They accomplished things they had not thought possible. One of those people wrote the forward to our book, THE TOP TEN: LESSONS FOR SUCCESFUL BUSINESS LEADERS AND MANAGERS.
Here is an excerpt of what she had to say:
“I first met Mandy and Keith…when they were co-managing a massage studio. I had quit my job as a barista and was looking for something that offered more opportunities for growth. I found out that a massage studio in my area was looking for front desk sales staff. I was interested, but a little hesitant since I knew next to nothing about the health and wellness industry, not to mention sales. I knew I had phone skills, but I had never received any sales training whatsoever. In fact, I detested sales and salespeople in general. I realized sales was a necessary part of any business, but I had no interest of ever becoming one of “them”. I took a chance, interviewed for the job, and was hired! I was excited, but nothing could have prepared me for the transformation I was about to undergo….Keith was the first person to shift my mindset and focus. He helped me to see that I wasn't just trying to sell something (in this case it was a monthly wellness program), I was simply educating the client about the best way to improve their overall well-being. Remember, I did not have the best opinion about sales, and they had to practically drag me kicking and screaming into it. And you know what? I am so grateful they did. I am grateful to them for teaching me to not be afraid of sales, to embrace it, and succeed at it!”
Within these words, so beautifully and honestly expressed, is the key to how this was all possible.
“… to shift my mindset and focus”
By ditching the old sales lingo, whi
ch served only to trigger negative emotions, and teaching our team to consult with customers instead of selling them, we were able to shift the focus and mindset of the entire team. For the record, the only time there was “kicking and screaming” was before we implemented these changes.
If you have hired good people who are open to learning, you can build them into a sales machine, even if they have never sold anything in their lives. You just have to meet people where they are before you can guide them to where they need to be.
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