Do you remember your first day of college?
Most likely there was excitement to start a new chapter in your life, but trepidation as you knew things would not be the same as they were in high school. College brought new development and growth along with healthy amounts of fear and lessons.
These are the feelings a lot of salespeople have as they move from a transactional sales environment to a consultative sales role. The path can be tough, especially for managers tasked with turning these transactional reps into consultative sellers.
The transition into consultative sales will bring new growth and development for your reps. You can help them create long-term relationships and use the critical thinking and problem-solving skills every day. However, they will need a lot of guidance during this transitional time. Here are some practices that have helped me lead my reps down the right consultative sales path.
Create New Metrics
If your reps are still stuck in the mindset of closing multiple deals very quickly, it can be demotivating if they don’t feel like they’re winning or meeting their goals. Provide them new goals while they gain traction in their new environment and shift their focus by creating new daily and weekly metrics like the number of proposals out or the number of second, third or closing meetings.
Hold Your Reps Accountable
Just because they aren’t closing deals every day doesn’t mean they can let things slide and slack on other sales activities. Let them know they’re responsible for certain activities throughout the day like setting up new meetings, following up on leads, prepping for meetings with clients or prospects and doing any follow-up from those meetings.
Let Them Learn On the Job
Think back to your first sales training. The trainer most likely suggested that you show, not tell – that goes for your reps too. Bring new reps into your client or prospect meetings. Allow them to listen in while top-producing reps make calls. This will help them get a better understanding of the consultative sale and your top producers will be viewed as team leaders.
Problem Solve With Them
Ask questions that will help you get to the core of your rep’s problem and focus on finding solutions that will keep them motivated. Sometimes we’re so focused on closing deals that we forget about the early stages of the sales cycle. It’s hard to close that big deal if it hasn’t been set up properly, which your reps might struggle with. This may not always be the answer, but it could be a good place to start when problem-solving with your transactional reps.
Being honest with your reps allows you to build strong relationships with them. They will become comfortable communicating when they need help due to the level of transparency you provide. On the other hand, let them know they are expected to try and solve problems on their own before you get involved.
Pair Them With A Mentor
Mentors can help smooth out the transition to consultative sales. Your reps will feel better when they know someone else has made it through the transition. Allow the mentor to expense coffee or lunch with the rep – it’s another opportunity to groom sales leaders on your team.
Create Short Term Goals
Creating smaller, week-to-week sales goals will help keep your reps on their toes, especially if they’re used to having weekly and daily goals in a transactional environment. Have your reps keep track of how many appointments, demos, and new prospects they execute in a week. It also helps keep things fun and engaging.
Your rep is an investment that will pay off in the long-term so continue to manage them after the 90-day mark, which is when they should be driving the most revenue. Don’t assume that because they’ve passed the 90-day mark, they don’t need any more coaching or managing. Be sure to continue the honest but direct feedback and goal setting.
There are a lot of transactional sellers out there, but it’s tough to find good consultative sales talent. It takes the right skill set to close complex sales. The most effective lesson I’ve learned as a manager is to set expectations, hold them accountable and give them space to make it work. You can’t simply hope that a transactional salesperson will make the transition to consultative sales smoothly and without guidance. You have to be their guide.