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5 ways to get your salespeople to practice more, and why it’s important

By: Rebecca Herson
July 20, 2021
5 min. read
sales coaching tips

Is the old saying “practice makes perfect” just a tired cliché? Or does practicing something really make it easier and more effective? In most cases, practice is the magic ingredient to success, especially when talking and interacting with other people.

Take sales calls, for example. Your salespeople need to come across as knowledgeable about the subject and the solutions they present, and do so with an air of authority and confidence. An easy way to do this is through good, old-fashioned practice.

Why is practice important?

When it comes to any task, the more practice someone gets in, the better they get, including in sports, theater, music, and public speaking, among many other activities. The same goes for sales calls. By practicing, your salespeople ensure that they:

  • Remember important information about a call
  • Remove some of the newness or awkwardness of a call
  • Anticipate potential problems that might come up during a call

And while some people hate practicing as opposed to actually doing the task, there is a method to the madness. By practicing, your salespeople actually make it easier to complete a call and get across the points they want to make, and, most importantly, make the sale!

5 sales coaching tips to help your salespeople get more daily practice

When practicing for a sales call, these simple practice exercises will help your salespeople get ready for the “big call.” Have them try each of these:

  • Use voice memos on their phones to practice a voicemail before leaving it. They should also listen back at the practice voicemail to ensure it sets the right tone and gets their point across.
  • Record a Zoom/Teams/WebEx/Google Meet…or other popular video conferencing software call with themselves and then watch it back.
  • Record themselves on their webcam (i.e., locally) and watch it, or send it to their manager for feedback.
  • Visualize the call in their head. Not only does visualization help a salesperson to practice for success, it can also help them build confidence in their sales pitch.
  • Practice using AI sales coaching software like Second Nature, which allows practice anytime, anywhere, and, unlike the other methods, gives feedback to help your salespeople improve.

Motivating your sales team to practice

In some cases, your salespeople might need a little motivation to actually practice their sales calls in between their actual sales calls. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to encourage practicing, including doing internal competitions at your company, such as putting stars on a virtual wall (just like kids in elementary school get for reading a new book). Make sure to tie the practice to something they do every day already, such as when driving to work, they can create a voice memo while at a stop light. If your salespeople are working in the company offices, you can have a camera set up on a tripod in the kitchenette so they can do a quick recording after their morning coffee. It’s also easy to run wide-scale practice competitions right from within Second Nature that your salespeople can do from their desks in any location.

You can also do things like handing out “best practice” awards each month or other public displays of approval.

Using other people in sales practice

Another option, as opposed to engaging in practice alone, is to work with other people while practicing. This can include a fellow salesperson, a friend, or even a spouse or child. Your salespeople can swap practice roleplay sessions with their coworkers to help ensure that everyone gets in the practice that they need.

Habits and muscle memory

Practicing can also help your salespeople develop good habits. By practicing the same thing over and over again, the structure of their calls becomes “muscle memory.” This can help ensure when they do encounter a certain scenario, they instantly fall back on what they have already learned and practiced to handle the situation.

How to avoid developing bad habits during practice

It is important, though, that your salespeople avoid developing bad habits while practicing. Once learned, these habits can be hard to unlearn and get away from. Specific bad habits include:

  • Becoming too formulaic and not tailoring messages to specific clients
  • Becoming too bogged down in a sales pitch and coming across as low energy or unenthusiastic
  • Failing to inspire clients through the use of a salesy approach that doesn’t engage or excite their emotions
  • Focusing on the pitch more than listening to the customer’s needs

Working with another person or with Second Nature’s Jenny, who gives feedback, can help prevent bad habits from forming. For more tips to improve sales rep performance, see our 7 step blog post.

The importance of finesse

Practicing a sales conversation is more than just about making a perfect call. It also involves your salespeople knowing what to say and when to say it. For example, while your salespeople want to present your company’s solution as more viable than the competition, they want to do so without badmouthing the competition.

For this, a salesperson needs finesse. While some salespeople seem to have finesse naturally, others must learn it like any other skill. And even though this skill can be hard to come by, one way of doing so is through lots of practice.

Practice DOES make perfect

As you can see, practice does make for a better salesperson. It allows your salespeople to develop a sales pitch and determine the techniques they want to use before they ever make a call. Most importantly, it allows your sellers to go into calls with poise and expertise.

The importance of being well-informed, listening to the customer’s needs and meeting those needs, and knowing how to explain the differences between your solution and the competition’s during a call can literally mean the difference making sale or not. Practicing each of these things is crucial. It’s that simple.

Use Second Nature to practice sales calls

With our AI sales coach — Jenny — your salespeople can easily practice their sales calls. Your sales reps can work with Jenny whenever they want to practice every type of sales call – discovery, presentations, negotiation, and more. Practicing with Jenny helps them develop a sales approach for each of their sales prospects.

With the practice calls recorded and analyzed automatically, your reps can use the call simulations with Jenny to improve on their own, allowing them to shine where it counts, on the actual sales call. Second Nature can also alert your sales rep’s manager to trouble areas so that they can work one-on-one with their salespeople to help them come up with the perfect sales pitches.

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Rebecca Herson

Rebecca leads marketing at Second Nature