can be rough going for an inside sales rookie and even rougher for his
manager. What do you tell your
employee on his first day of cold calling other than, “Just have fun with it”? I’ve heard that said before—“Just have
fun with it”—and, in fact, I’ve used that line. I do believe that anyone in sales should have fun with it,
otherwise go do something else, but I’m not sure those words necessarily put the
employee at ease.
best thing a manager can do—a first-time manager or a seasoned one—is to get on the
sales floor and lead by example.
It’s more important to show
your employee that you’re enjoying the process as opposed to just telling
him that sales is all kicks and giggles.
first time cold callers have way too much running through their head before
they even pick up the phone.
They do not live in the present, they live in the future which is dangerous terrain. Sometimes the leads psyche them out. They overanalyze them (“should we be calling this company?”)
or the idea (the burden?) of calling all these prospects is overwhelming. The rookie worries about the pitch, the
post-pitch, and when to ask for the sale.
In short, they get ahead of themselves.
good manager will be present on the sales floor. He’ll watch and listen to his employee and interject when
necessary. This is a delicate
thing, interjection. A manager
wants to be careful not to scare his employee by barking, “Does he sign
off!” “Ask for a reference!” “Ask him what’s holding him back!” I’ve seen plenty of salespeople
completely freeze on a call (that dopey deer in the headlights look) as the manager shouts instructions at
manager and employee should discuss a coaching style that best fits the
employee. There are some first
time cold callers who appreciate the manager who barks out advice. There are others who like sign
language sales. I’ve used sign language
sales with a lot of people.
example, for “Does he sign off?” I would flourish a pen. For “What’s his cell number?”—a
question every good salesperson should be asking Shirley the gatekeeper—I’d
make a C with my fingers. For
“What’s holding you back?” I’d hold my hands up in a gesture that says, “What’s
the deal here?”
In an ideal business environment a sales
manager would always be present on the sales floor, fine-tuning both his game
(coaching) and his employee.
Unfortunately, managers have responsibilities other than coaching, and
that’s too bad. Sales managers
speak to their rookies about “ramp up” periods, giving them a general idea when
an employee will make his first sale, as well quotas to reach within a specific
time frame. This process could be
sped up if the manager is willing to be on the floor and make cold calls until
his employees are comfortable with the sales process.
manager who makes cold calls right along side his rookies is doing three
things: he’s developing his coaching skills, he’s putting his
employees at ease and keeping their minds on the present, and, most importantly, he’s showing them the way to the deal.