When I first got into sales I did not have a sales manager. They literally handed me a desk that had a computer on it, some business cards and said go sell something.
I was clueless about what I was supposed to do. Well, I knew my job was to bring in new business but, wow, where to start…
I think this is how a lot of sales leaders bring their new salespeople on. They call it baptism by fire and I call it a recipe for disaster.
Luckily I’ve always been a self-driven guy but – damn, don’t do that to your people.
As my career progressed, I found myself as a sales trainer before launching my own company. I was working with sales leaders helping them build a winning team.
What I found is most people are thrown to the wolves and are never really taught what a sales process is or how to mentor, lead, coach or train their people.
So, I had to come up with a way to teach these sales leaders not only how to lead but how to not look like they didn’t know what they were doing in the process. Luckily, most sales leaders were salespeople once upon a time.
That is a skill set that once learned can not be unlearned and I was going to use it.
You go I go became the game we created to help these leaders lead. They would sit in a room with their people break out a phone, a call list and a little bit of gumption.
Then explaining that they would make a dial then the next person would and that they would celebrate the great calls, laugh at the bad calls and coach on what could be done better.
Here is what we found: most sales leaders were reluctant to start this process. They had this idea in their heads that they were supposed to be deal-closing rockstars. They worried if their team saw them fumble on calls that they would lose respect.
Here is the truth, they’re human and everyone screws up sales calls. We walked through the idea of being authentic and the willingness to laugh at yourself when you say something wrong or fumble over their words.
To get them more comfortable with this idea, I took the first leap and made a live cold call with them all watching. Man, I was scared to death. Here I was the guy training sales leaders how to teach and train their people, I better know what the hell I’m doing.
With shaking hands and quivering voice, I silently prayed no one picked up the phone on the other end. Everything change when the person on the other end said “Hello”?
Surprising I booked an appointment and the whole room cheered. It felt awesome. I was there to teach not to strut around the room, so Immediately started asking questions.
What did I do right?
You got the appointment they yelled….
What did I do wrong or what could I do better?
They started picking apart the call dialing what I had said and how I could adjust it next time.
We wrote notes up on a whiteboard and hashed some better strategies for the next call.
I then pointed to the sales leader next to me and said “you’re up”
He went a little pale but sucked it up and grabbed the phone.
He didn’t set an appointment but he got past a gatekeeper before being told they were not interested…
When he hung up the room went nuts and we broke down what he did.
Then the next leader steps up and she crushed it getting a verbal commitment to a deal. And so on we went one by one doing dials, critiquing and adjusting.
Sometimes we laughed so hard we cried over some hairbrained things that came out of our mouths. But mostly it was the spontaneous and ingenious things that were said in the heat of the moment that became staples in the calls.
When the training was done, the high fives and the smiles were pretty cool to watch and see.
As we debriefed the session the number one question was how do we implement this with our teams?
I told them it’s the same process. They start it off and then do You Go I Go….
Once the team gets comfortable with the concept, you split them up in pairs and have them work together going back and forth encouraging and helping each other.
I also explained to think about what happens if they did this on in-person sales calls. They take one call then their salesperson takes the next.
They left the training with piles of notes and a game plan to implement.
The next week, when they came in for training they couldn’t wait to share their stories.
One leader talked to his top salespeople and encouraged them to sit with the new people and do this process. He was blown away by the results. Most of the top salespeople were excited, all except his lone wolf sales gal.
The rest of the top people sat with the new people and he said a bunch of appointments were made but what he loved was the laughter and comradery in his team. He had never seen his team working together like that and was excited to see where it could lead.
Another leader said he sat with his team and without telling them (because he was so freaked out) grabbed the phone and started dialing. As his people realized what he was doing, he said their eyes got wide. Like me, he said he felt like his heart was about to pop out of his chest. But when the person on the other end of the line said hello he went right into his routine.
He laughed at how excited his team got and gave each other high fives when he got off the call. They were so pumped that one of his salespeople said she wanted to go next.
On and on the stories went and a few had some really bad cold calls but at the end of the day, they were able to use it as teaching tools for there teams.
It became a permanent training mechanisms in most of their companies and they very seldom found themselves having to dial the phone as their teams were working in pairs and succeeding.
The bottom line is, as leaders are job is to create other leaders that can later lead. To do that we must do what we ask of them not as our job but as a leadership teaching tool.
What would happen if you started leading by example and showed them that by doing the work they can find success?
Sometime after that training working with a 70 person call center, I was talking to the sales leader and his biggest complaint was that his team wasn’t saying the right thing on the sales calls.
He was frustrated that he couldn’t get them to do what he taught them. I told him about the You Go I Go concept and he looked at me like I had two heads. No way in hell was he going to do a call in front of his people that was not his job.
He went on to explain that he had never worked at a call center and had never actually used the stuff he was teaching. So what did I do? I said well let’s try it how about I go then you go….