There are over 66 million golfers in the world according to some random source on Google. Only about 2% would be considered elite golfers – those that carry a scratch handicap or better. According to TaskDrive, there are 5.7 million salespeople worldwide. We have access to a database of 2.2 million of them through OMG and consider the top 6% of them elite salespeople.
So, what do these stats have to do with Consultative Sales Training? Well, there are three very specific areas that separate elite golfers from the rest and I believe these same principles can be applied to sales to help individuals become elite consultative sellers.
Three Elite Principles
1. Planning and preparation.
The most familiar group of elite golfers, professionals, are notoriously good planners and they follow a process. They play practice rounds at courses before tournaments begin. They make notes and construct a plan of attack based on where they want to hit the ball and where they don’t want to hit the ball. They plan for the “what if” scenarios. They collaborate with their caddie who helps them talk through options and who essentially builds their confidence. The caddie doesn’t tell them what to do, but they certainly help them avoid mistakes. Elite golfers, professional or not, stick to the exact same pre-shot routine. They measure their statistics and review where improvements are needed.
Elite salespeople do the same. They prepare. They pre-call plan. They debrief after. And, if fortunate, they have a manager who coaches them and builds their confidence in the process, rather than just telling them what to do. And elite salespeople know their own statistics. They use data and knowledge to help them prepare better so they don’t lose business the next time. They follow a repeatable sales process to produce predictable results and to help free their mind to focus on the conversation at hand.
Elite golfers don’t just show up at the course and play. Certainly, testing themselves on the golf course in playing situations is key to growing confidence and ultimately having success, but practice is also a key component. Most elite golfers spend more time practicing than they do playing. They know that repetition of the right swings, the right putting stroke, the correct chip shot is necessary. Elite golfers concentrate practice on the areas that are their weakest. And because of the statistics they keep, they know exactly which parts of their game need work.
Elite salespeople also practice. They practice presentations. They practice asking the right questions. They practice dealing with objections. They practice what to say in “what if” scenarios. They practice so they have confidence in all situations.
3. Stay in the Moment.
Time and time again, the best golfers, especially those who contend for and win major championships, discuss how proud they were of staying in the moment. How they focused on one shot at a time. How they didn’t let their mind get ahead of them. The golfers who fall short of winning often acknowledge that they messed up because they didn’t stay focused.
Well, the same is true of salespeople. Those that are able to stay in the moment tend to be better and more successful salespeople all around.
Here are some interesting statistics to back up this claim. Of all salespeople measured (2.2 million+) only 36% are proficient at staying the moment. This means they can stay focused on the prospect rather than the voices in their own head and not make assumptions about what the prospect or client meant. But, when you just consider elite salespeople, those in the top 6%, a whopping 73% of them are effective at staying in the moment. So, as a leader, you should either hire these elite salespeople, or train the salespeople you have to overcome this gap if they are not proficient.
Consultative Sales Training to Be Elite
If you want a team of elite sellers, then teach them how to prepare and plan, and ensure they are following a repeatable pre-call routine. Next, help them practice for the “what if” scenarios. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown role-playing session, just ask them what they are going to do in certain situations.
Taking these steps will enable a salesperson to stay in the moment if they are not already proficient at doing so. They must plan, prepare, and practice. Also, implement and coach a defined logical sales conversation process so that salespeople do not stray from focus. These elements can be taught, and salespeople can improve, but they need guidance and reinforcement.