If you’ve been in sales long enough, then you’ve been stopped cold by a prospect. Maybe they asked a question that you stumbled through or had an objection you couldn’t overcome. Sales teams invest a lot of money training their folks to respond to basic questions, but what inevitably happens?
The scripts aren’t specific to your industry or your prospects. Or your industry changes, competitors enter the scene and we hear new questions and objections that no one prepared us for.
There are two things that can happen when a salesperson creates a response for a question or objection that stopped them cold. Most salespeople hope they remember what they learned or want to try differently next time, but the very best salespeople systemize what they learn into their sales process so they don’t have to remember it at all.
When we sat down with Troy Steele, a sales leader with Cyclone Diamond, we chatted about how he ensures his salespeople track the new questions and objections they hear so that everyone benefits when someone’s conversation is stopped cold.
Because we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: For salespeople to capture the new questions and challenges they hear from prospects, get it down on paper or in your CRM as quickly as possible after you hear it. If a few calls or meetings with different prospects occur after you hear the new question of challenge, it’s a fair bet the ‘outlet’ question will be forgotten.
To debrief the team and get everyone’s insights and experience around the new questions or challenges, Troy recommends this process live in a regularly-scheduled meeting with the sales team. If it’s not regularly scheduled, folks will roll in late and might miss giving their input, or more importantly, hearing the questions everyone else has encountered since the last meeting.
R – Repeatable: Simply having a great response to a question gets us no further than we were when we started, as it will only be remembered occasionally, if at all. To make the question-gathering process repeatable, we need to ensure we’re capturing all the information needed for the team/leadership to assess the question, learn from it, and offer the highest-quality advice on what to do about it the next time we hear it from a prospect.
Writing down a new question or a challenge is only half the battle in making this a repeatable system. Salespeople also need to capture who they were speaking with in the account, the size of the deal, stage of the sales cycle the account was in, and any other pertinent details. That way, if a response script or written resource is created by the team, folks will know what kind of deal to apply it to.
This can be as simple as a spreadsheet with columns names of the details we want to make sure we capture, such as account name, deal size, stage in the sales cycle the deal was when we heard the new question, the wording of the question itself, etc.
I – Improvable: Capturing the new question or challenge and it’s details to share with the team is more work than most salespeople put into systemizing improvement, but if all we’re doing is capturing and sharing it then we’re missing out on why we’re doing it: to change what we’re saying, how we’re positioning our product or service, and increasing our value to the prospect along the way.
If a question comes up in your review meeting that salespeople are struggling with or one that gives everyone an ‘Aha!’ moment, it should affect change somewhere in their resources. That might mean a script change, updating marketing material, the creation of a blog or resource that addresses the question and gives salespeople something to send along to the prospect, etc.
M – Measurable: In order to ensure we’re measuring the effectiveness of this sales system and the changes that reviewing new questions creates, we need to ensure that our salespeople are reporting back on whether our new responses/resources are allowing the sales conversation to continue of if they’re simply creating more questions or concerns for our prospects. Second, we should also measure whether salespeople are still struggling with the old question because they aren’t using the new resources or not implementing any script changes.
Keeping up with new questions and challenges does require some effort, but by involving the team and leadership, we can ensure we’re getting better after we hear any question we don’t have an answer to.