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May 24

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 5

By Dr. Jack Singer | Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Friday Finale

Today is “Friday Finale!”

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 5 of a 5 part series.

Part 1: Gameplan for Sales Success

Part 2 : Triumphant Tales Tuesday

Part 3: Wednesday Workshop

Part 4: Mental Toughness Thursday

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports CoachThis is the final day of my week long Game Plan for Sales Success. Just like the first day, Magic Monday, the intent of this wrap-up day is to provide fun and more bonding to end the week long training program.

When a football team is preparing to face an opponent on Saturday, Friday is the day for a no pads, relaxed “walk through” and team bonding. For sales professionals, the game plan to develop revamped selling skills, new products or services, and learning best practices from each other has now been conducted and the final day is the time for a wrap up, which may be accomplished with low stress team building exercises and work-games. There are many workbooks on the market, describing sales training exercises and games.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Friday Finale Agenda

#1. Open the day with a fun icebreaker exercise: The Human Treasure Hunt. This is my favorite exercise to begin a training day. Hand out a page that contains a checklist of what attendees need to gather among their colleagues. The checklist actually describes characteristics of the attendees, rather than things. The first person to complete the checklist wins a nice prize.

Each of the items on the checklist begins with this sentence opening: “Find two colleagues who…”

You can have fun items, such as “Find two colleagues who have the same birth month as you” or “enjoys the same flavor of ice cream.” And…you can have job-related items, such as “Find two colleagues who have been recognized for their success selling (a product or service) and ask them the secrets of their success.”

By blending fun and job-related items, the Human Treasure Hunt becomes a great way to open the day. It also has a side benefit of allowing more networking among all of the participants.

Now, the first person to complete the checklist doesn’t win the prize until she/he reports the information in front of the entire audience, so when approaching people to get information for the checklist, participants need to carefully listen for their names and listen carefully to what they tell them, so they can accurately repeat the information to the audience. For example: “Mary Jones and Tom Smith both have been honored for their sales success this year. Mary attributes her success to….and Tom attributes his success to…”

This trains participants to listen carefully, memorize the material, and then present it correctly.

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#2. Games for building rapport with customers. Like all sales games, these customer rapport building games can be conducted individually or in teams, which compete with each other. One hilarious way of practicing these skills is by using improvisation methods. This stimulates thinking on your feet, and having excellent communications and careful listening skills.

In one of these games, Alphabet Soup, divide the participants into pairs, and have them choose who takes the role of sales person and who takes the role of customer for round one. In round two, they will switch roles.

Set up this game by telling everyone that they are in a sales setting with their product or service being discussed with a prospective customer. The sales person starts by making a comment about the product or service, but the comment must begin with the letter “A.” The person playing the customer role responds, but his/her response must start with the letter “B.”

The two continue alternating sentences until they complete the last statement or response with the letter “Z.”

This can get hilarious and teaches quick thinking, while building rapport with a customer.

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#3. Games for improving listening skills. Developing wonderful listening skills is critical for the success of any professional sales person. I like to begin by teaching a method of listening that I call the T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S. model. While a description of this model is beyond the scope of this article and can be found detailed elsewhere, let me summarize each heading in the model.

Treat your customers with respect and value each one.

Reflect the meaning of what your customer is telling you before you actually respond to it.

“I” statements are most powerful.

Understand the needs and goals of the customer before trying to sell.

Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the customer, as well as the content of what she/he is telling you.

Probe gently and with respect.

Help the customer feel safe in the conversation.

Summarize frequently during your conversation to ensure that you are hearing what the customer is trying to relate to you.

Once your audience has a thorough understanding of this model, you can ask for two volunteers: one to play the role of sales person and one for customer. Have them come to the front of the room and have the “customer” role play the type of customer with whom your team members typically deals. Have the role playing “sales person” try to listen to the needs and goals of the customer, and the objections or concerns about the product/service, etc. After 10 minutes or so, stop the exercise and ask the “customer” whether he/she felt listened to. Why or why not did they feel that way?

Once questions are answered and feedback is given, pair up the entire audience and have them practice the skill.

A second exercise is a really funny way to demonstrate how most of us do NOT listen. This is the party-game called Telephone. Get six volunteers to leave the room and give a seventh volunteer a card with some information or a short story written on it. Then call in one volunteer from the other room and have the volunteer with the information read what is on the card to the second person. The second person is then charged with the task of memorizing the information and reporting it (without the card) to the third volunteer. The process proceeds one volunteer at a time until the last volunteer is given the information.

By the time the story is told to six or so people, it is completely distorted from the original. This game is loads of fun, but makes the point about how important listening skills are.

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#4. Games for closing and handling customer objections. Another improvisation exercise can be used in for closing deals and dealing with customer objections. Again, have everyone in the room pair up. One member of the pair will be the customer and the other the sales person, and then the roles can be reversed for a second round with different instructions.

Have all of the “sales people” leave the room and give them their written instructions, while the “customers” get their written instructions separately. Then bring the “sales people” back in, find their “customer” partners and begin the exercise.

Here’s an example of how to set the scene for round 1: The sales people are told that “You only have time to make one more sale today and you only have until the end of this workday to close a sale worth $5000 in order to win a bonus trip to Hawaii.” (Note: if possible, use actual products or services that your team sells.)

The “customer” role players receive these instructions: “You are considering purchasing _____, but you are only interested in one of her/his products today, and it’s the one that sells for $4000.”

Let the fun begin. You’ll hear uproarious laughter throughout the room, as sales people wheel and deal with customers and the customers resist. Many great closing techniques will be demonstrated, which can be presented to the entire room by those “customers” who were actually swayed to purchase the more expensive product.

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#5. Closing exercise. If your team is small enough that everyone knows each other, the Brag Bag exercise is a marvelous way to close the day and the training week. Each attendee has a small paper bag and puts her/his name on it with a permanent marker. Each bag is hung around the room with masking tape, leaving the open end exposed. Now each attendee is given enough small strips of paper to have one for every bag (or attendee).

Here’s the best part: After learning much about their colleagues during the five-day training, each attendee has several positive impressions of each colleague. So, each attendee writes the most positive thing she/he can say about each colleague on separate slips of paper and drops each slip in the appropriate bag. Each attendee then picks up his/her bag and staples it shut. They are not to open the brag bags until they leave the seminar. Imagine the joy and comfort on the way home, waiting for their flight, or when they finally arrive at home, to read a whole group of slips, relating positive feedback from each of their colleagues! What a great way to end your training week.

Of course, for many of you, the training will involve large numbers of attendees, where you will not have much information about the colleagues with whom you did not interact during the week. Therefore, here is a closing exercise for large groups of attendees:

Random Picks 

The trainer reviews the content for the entire week and then each participant writes down an Action Plan for him/herself. I prefer having a handout, with numbered lines on which to write down the actions/behaviors each participant will begin practicing and the date by which they hope to accomplish those actions. A sentence beginning with “I will” can lead off each line. For example, a participant my write down that she/he will “practice listening skills with my spouse or best friend for a week and solicit feedback about how I am doing.” They then write down a date by which they plan to complete the task.

On the bottom of the sheet, they put their names and business telephone numbers. All papers are passed to the front, shuffled and placed in a pile. On the way out of the meeting room, each participant picks a sheet, makes sure it is not his or her own, and commits to call the person whose action plan she/he received, on the date shown on the paper.

The beauty of this exercise is that it serves to stimulate actionable take-aways and commits the participant to follow up, because they will be made accountable by the colleague who received their action plan and will be following up.

Of course, you are free to modify any of the exercises conducted during the five day sales training program. Here’s wishing you the best of continued success in training your sales team for peak performance!

 

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

May 13

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 4

By Dr. Jack Singer | Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Workshop Thursday

Today is “(Mental) Toughness Thursday!”

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 4 of a 5 part series.

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports CoachThis is the fourth day of my week long Game Plan for Sales Success. The week began by exercises aimed at developing group cohesion, and was followed on Triumphant Tales Tuesday by case studies of sales successes that colleagues in your team can share with each other. Wednesday was the day that sales managers introduced specifics about a new sales push, new products, services, sales strategies etc. Workshop Wednesday was more of a didactic format, so that attendees could be exposed to your power-point, video programs, handouts, etc., teaching them all they need to know about these products and services.

We now have arrived at Thursday, which has the goal of troubleshooting problems sales, disappointments, missed opportunities, etc.  This is where mental toughness comes in.  Elite athletes gain knowledge from setbacks and bounce back quickly.  So, (mental) Toughness Thursday is all about training your team to deal with disappointments, mishaps in sales and missed opportunities.

Like athletes, many sales professionals look at missed opportunities and setbacks as “failures,” which now erodes their self-confidence.  And obviously, loss of self-confidence feeds on itself and undermines performance.  So, you need to teach them to quickly defuse the self-flagellation that could result from perceived “failures.” The best way to do that is by pro-actively putting this skill into the training package during the Toughness Thursday.

Using mental toughness in the face of disappointment is one of the most important ingredients for maintaining focus and overcoming the fear of continual failure. Once the sales professional runs into adversity, it is easy to become distracted from the goal, focusing instead on his perceived failure and the fear of repeating the failure.

Sales Performance= Sales Skill + Knowledge + Motivation  Minus Distractions.

This simple formula tells it all.  The more the distractions, the less the sales performance, regardless of skill, knowledge and motivation.  And, the number one distraction is the negative self-talk that follows setbacks in performance. 

Four training tips to help your sales team overcome negative distractions. 

#1) Stop negative self-talk immediately. Self-limiting, negative and pessimistic internal dialogue (self-talk) always inhibit success. Examples are sentences that begin with: “What if …,” “I hope I don’t . . .” “I should have said . . .” “The client won’t like me if . . .” “I always have problems with . . .” “I probably won’t be able to close this sale,” and “I can’t believe how stupid I was to miss that . . .” Negative, messages that pass through your mind immediately lead to muscle tightening, rapid breathing, and perspiring. These physiological responses are perceived as “stress,” and stress inhibits great performance.

Wear a loose fitting rubber band on your wrist and when negative thoughts go through your mind, snap the rubber band hard enough to stop the thought.  If a rubber band isn’t convenient, tighten a fist as a reminder to stop thinking that way.

Once you succeed in stopping the thought, take a few slow, deep breaths, relax, and change your thoughts to ones that are positive and optimistic. For example, when you catch yourself beginning a thought with “What if…,”  change it immediately to “No big deal.  I’ll learn from this and move on.” Always tell yourself to move on to the next opportunity and never linger on the negative situation that already passed.

Once you have taught your team these tips, pair them up and role play negative thinking scenarios and practice healthy responses.  Share examples with the rest of the team.

#2) Give yourself positive affirmations, continuously.  Regardless of what happened that you are not happy about, look to the next opportunity right now. Fill your thinking with positive affirmations about yourself, such as… “I am a very successful sales professional. In my career, I have bounced back from many disappointments and achieved success. I don’t have to be perfect to be successful, and I don’t have to get every sale to be successful.” 

A great plan is to have each member of your team write down 10 positive affirmations and say each one 10 times in the morning and 10 times in the evening.  Make sure they write down the affirmations, not just think about them.

# 3) Visualize sales success before you approach potential customers. Visualize yourself preparing for your next sales call and feeling confident as you enter the room. Visualize the sights and sounds around you as you begin. Picture the customer smiling and nodding in agreement as you show him/her how your product or service is perfect for their needs.

#4) Use the power of goal setting. You are 11 times more likely to reach a goal when you write it down, as opposed to simply thinking about it. Write down short and long-term sales-related goals that are specific and action-oriented. Ensure the goals are realistic.

Next, visualize yourself feeling wonderful once you achieve that goal. Imagine it as if you’ve already achieved the goal. It’s important to then list ways in which you could (or did in the past) sabotage yourself from accomplishing the goal, and how you’ll avoid that behavior.

Training your team to recognize negative distractions resulting from sales  disappointments and how to overcome those distractions will give them the mental toughness necessary to be continually successful.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Finale Friday.

 

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Apr 29

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 3

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors , Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

Today is “Wednesday Workshop!”

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 3 of a 5 part series.

sales, sales success, insurance sales, sales coaching, role playing, game plan

In my first two articles about a week long Game Plan for Sales Success, I discussed kicking the week off with “Magic Monday,” involving strategies to develop group cohesion among your sales team. The second training day, which I referred to as “Triumphant Tales Tuesday,” has the goal of successful team members sharing the elements of their successes with their colleagues, in the form of case studies.  This day includes role playing exercises, so that team members can practice the skills that have already been shown by their peers to be successful.

Now, we are at mid week, where I suggest a workshop format, Workshop Wednesday.

Recall that this training week mirrors that of a sports team. Wednesday is typically the day for the team’s game plan for their next opponent is introduced. In this case, sales managers can introduce specifics about a new sales push, new products, services, sales strategies etc. Workshop Wednesday is more of a didactic format, so that attendees can be exposed to power-point, video programs, handouts, etc., teaching them all they need to know about these products and services.

As on Tuesday, role playing exercises can be very helpful in practicing these new strategies.

Because many sales professionals internally resist change, the introduction of new or different products, services or sales strategies may raise this resistance.  Consequently, this is a wonderful opportunity to discuss methods of overcoming resistance to change.  In such a discussion, I include such topics as “Overcoming Imposter Fear,” “Taking Charge of Your Internal Critic,” and “Taking Charge of Your Attitudes and Emotions.”  All of these topics (addressed in other articles I have written) address the issue of resistance to change.

Like all training days, I recommend ending with a fun exercise.  There are many manuals offering team building closing exercises and some are directed specifically for sales professionals.  An example is “Superspy.” In this sales training game, attendees pair up in teams to discover the most critical information they need about a fictitious company that is a prospective buyer of your product or service. The team with the most creative ideas for uncovering critical information about the prospective buyer wins a fun prize.  All of these exercises serve multiple purposes:  having fun together, developing a competitive spirit between small teams, and brainstorming to develop creative ideas to sell your products.

Stay tuned for the next installment:  (Mental) Toughness Thursday.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Apr 12

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 2

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors , Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 2 of a 5 part series.

Today is Triumphant Tales Tuesday!

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

In my first article about a week long Game Plan for Sales Success, I discussed kicking the week off with Magic Monday, involving strategies to develop group cohesion among your sales team. Using a nautical analogy, no matter how many different “boats” your individual team members arrived on when they joined your sales organization, they are now all on the same “ship,” with each crew member working toward the goal of bringing the ship into port successfully.

Now, it’s Tuesday and time for team members to share success stories with their colleagues. Modeling success strategies from colleagues helps all team members achieve their individual goals, with the combined team goals obviously being accomplished as well.  Again, as in sports, focusing on team goals, rather than individual ones, creates cohesion and the desire for colleagues to help each other.

Triumphant Tales Tuesday actually serves three purposes:

  • First, colleagues share case examples of sales successes they have accomplished, a form of “best practices” sharing.  The more detail included in the stories, the better, with all of the elements that ultimately led to the sale, including listening to and assessing the prospective client’s needs, asking the right questions and closing techniques.
  • Secondly, sharing case examples of success stories that the sales professionals shared with some prospective clients, in order to convince them to purchase products or services, is a valuable sales tool, from which to learn.  For example, an insurance sales professional can share a story that she told a prospective client about how happy another client was that he purchased that insurance product, because shortly afterward, there was an accident or family tragedy, which was fully covered by the product they had purchased.  Showing prospective clients how current ones are thrilled with the product or service they purchased from you is a powerful selling tool.  It is like a testimonial, but telling it in story form is much more impactful than simply quoting a comment from a satisfied customer.  Of course, if the current client is willing to be contacted by your prospective client, that is even more powerful. Your current client will be helping to close the deal for you!
  • Third, these tales of success can easily lead to role playing scenarios, where team members can practice story-telling skills with each other, as if they were telling them to prospective clients.

Role playing, with the task simulating as closely as possible an actual sales scenario, is a powerful learning technique.  Football teams, for example, in preparing for bowl games, will simulate crowd noise and other distractions during their practice and they practice in the same facility in which the big game will be held. Simulating what they will face during the game conditions the players’ mental and physical “muscle memories” so that the actual game will be much less stressful and they will be focused on the goal of winning.

So, too, in sales training, the closer the training simulates the exact situation in which the sales professional finds himself, the less mental and emotional distractions will hamper the ultimate sales approach.

There are many forms of role-playing used in training.  Like all training, I make it fun by having colleagues cheering for each other, giving out prizes for the best “acting,” and concluding the day with another fun activity.

Stay tuned for my discussion of the third day of the Game Plan for Sales Success, Workshop Wednesday.

Listen to Dr. Jack and Jon Hansen discuss this topic on BlogTalkRadio.

Listen to internet radio with Jon Hansen on BlogTalkRadio

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.