All sales managers want great problem solvers on their teams, right? But do you have great problem solvers on your team?
Do you have a team that is great at opening doors but fails to ask the right questions?
Let’s fix this!
5 Ways Sales Managers Can Help Salespeople Become Better Problem Solvers
The word problem has a negative connotation. People tend to cringe when a prospect or client calls with a “problem.”
So, instead of thinking about “problems” as “problems,” let’s think of them as opportunities for growth. Here are 5 ways to squash head trash about problems and help your salespeople become better problem solvers.
1. Have the right “problem solvers”
Having the right people on the bus is crucial. When it comes to having the right salespeople on your team, it’s not always about having the best personality, or even the best pitch—it goes beyond that.
A good place to start is during the hiring process. Ask potential candidates to interview you. Yes, you! Do they ask great questions? Are they able to think on their feet? Their answers are an indication of how they will interact with potential prospects and customers.
Beyond hiring, proper sales training and a plan to ramp up new hires is the next step to ensuring you have the right problem solvers on your team.
During sales training, ask the following:
• What questions will you ask prospects during the discovery process?
• How will you handle an upset customer or client?
Think about staying inside of the room rather than only stepping foot in the door. Efficient problem solving and consistency will keep you inside.
2. Timing is everything
Handle problems or nip confusion quickly.
The First 48 is a television series about detectives racing against the clock in the wake of homicides. If they don’t generate a lead within the first 48 hours, the chance of solving the case is greatly reduced.
Think about the sales process and customer service process in the same terms.
When it comes to prospects, the discovery phase is the first 48. If your salespeople aren’t asking great questions in the beginning and gathering the right information, the likelihood of them creating an action plan to solve the prospects problems is greatly reduced.
When it comes to clients, handling problems, errors, or confusion should be considered an emergency. So, have an emergency action plan ready to handle clients’ problems. Be a resource!
Remember, customers are the spine of every company and without them, we are paralyzed.
3. Communication & Active Listening
Effective communication is the key to it all. During training, ensure that your team understands how to actively listen, not just “hear” what prospects and clients are saying.
Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that results in improving mutual understanding. Here’s how to practice active listening:
1. Remove all distractions
2. Listen and observe
3. Provide feedback, indicating that their concerns are understood
4. NEVER interrupt!
Here’s an example of an active listening conversation interaction between a sales manager and a salesperson:
Sales manager: “Your new client from last week called and stated that they received no follow up, and she is now very upset.”
Salesperson: “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will handle the situation right away.”
3 Steps for Salespeople when Handling Upset Customers:
1. Provide complete, undivided attention, allowing the client to share the full story.
2. Listen. Show empathy for their problem.
3. Use positive body language such as nodding in acknowledgement with a smile. Avoid folding your arms or presenting yourself in a defensive manner.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when communicating with an upset client or customer.
• Remember, anything relayed to the customer will be taken to heart. Sometimes, less is more.
• Use the right words at the right time by communicating only the facts, rather than showing raw emotion.
• Focus on the present and future, the past has already happened.
• Speak with confidence; this will foreshadow to the customer your ability to deliver.
• Pay attention to your body language. Be sure to make eye contact and use hand gestures when appropriate. This will instill active visual involvement, showing a desire to be their problem solver.
• Imagine communicating with a customer to resemble a staircase. The goal is to reach the top landing, one step at a time. Each good sentence equals one step. Use words that will result in a step forward.
4. Resolving problems
Finding a solution to your prospect or client's problems is the most important step.
For prospects, the ability to solve their unique problems can be the difference between making or losing a deal.
For clients, the same applies. The ability to handle a problem is the difference between keeping that client, or losing them.
Your sales team's ability to solve current problems also provides expectations for the future. If your salespeople are unable to find solutions quickly and communicate those solutions effectively, prospects and clients will lose confidence.
The best resolutions are made when everyone is satisfied. When solving problems for customers, be sure to set boundaries on what can and cannot be done—this will prevent the same problem from happening in the future.
5. Follow Up
Does your sales team have a follow-up plan for prospects and clients specifically for problem solving? If not, now is the perfect time to create a process and add it to your Sales PlayBook.
A follow up process will help monitor progress after the problem has been solved.
If your salespeople are in prospecting mode, a D.E.A.L document might be a good place to communicate how you will help solve their unique problems and scheduling meetings in the future to follow up will show them that you’re prepared to help.
If your salespeople are handing a client account with an issue, the same follow up rules apply. Have them schedule tasks in the CRM so they are reminded to follow up.
Do you have problem solvers on your sales team? Comment below and share some of your best practices!
About the Author:
Hunter Smith is a Division Associate at Paul Davis Restoration of Broward County and North Miami, Florida. He has been involved in property restoration since 2008, and loves helping others solve problems.