Sales Training

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How a sales training course, with some unique techniques, was developed to give each member of an average team an effective process and selling success.

The new sales manager was introduced to the existing team at their monthly meeting. The team of 15 field sales people were a mixed bag of industry veterans that had been around forever, and younger people who had moved into selling from other parts of the company. There were a couple of salesmen and women that had sold in other markets, and some with C.V.s that showed a long a list of selling related roles such as account management and company representatives.

After the introductions the new manager wanted to get a feel for the level of sales skills the team had. In a conversational style, the manager asked questions that would highlight the team’s knowledge and experience. The idea was to assess their sales skills and the manager would then provide the sales training courses that would increase each individual’s sales results and make the team successful.

After asking questions and discussing the sales process that each of the team used, the manager discovered the following:

Very few of the sales team had an effective sales process that took the prospect from first contact to closing the sale. One of the more mature team members said they had received only one sales training course in their 20 years with the company.

Each sales person on the team had one way of selling, and their lack of sales skills meant there was no flexibility in their sales pitches. If what they did didn’t work they lost the sale, and then blamed the company, the product, or even the prospect.

Sales introductions focused on telling the prospect that they would try to offer them a cheaper deal than the one they currently had. Sales questions were poor and did not highlight real customer needs. They established the details of what the customer currently had, but not what they really wanted.

All the sales presentations were based on price. The aim of all the sales presentations to prospects was to beat the current supplier’s and the competitor’s prices. Despite the team’s many years in sales they had not had effective sales training on how to sell to a prospect’s needs. The team talked about features and benefits but didn’t know how to use them to sell.

Sales objections were answered with prepared replies that came from their own experience and they had no real process for dealing with objections.

You would expect the sales manager to have been surprised, and disappointed, at his new team’s lack of sales ability. Here was a team of people who had been in sales for many years but did not know or understand the sales process. You might think the manager would feel there was a massive uphill struggle ahead to turn this team into consistent target achievers. But the experienced manager had seen it all before. It’s an unfortunate fact that many people in sales have not had the benefit of effective training. There are sales teams around the world in exactly the same situation as this one. Some have had sales training, but it either hasn’t worked or they haven’t taken the techniques on board. Others haven’t received sales training. Many sales people don’t know what they don’t know, they are unconsciously incompetent. It isn’t their fault and it can quickly be fixed.

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When I started in leasing my training consisted of being given a phone book & told to make calls. I remember calling a copier vendor and he asked if we paid points. I put him on hold, turned to the guy next to me and said “What are points?” It was a brutal beginning and my lack of quick results proved it.

During the past two years many companies have stopped offering sales training. When budgets are cut, it’s usually the first thing to go. This is a mistake because training helps reps see missed opportunities, explore a range of choices, and make wise decisions that close more deals. Beginning and experienced reps alike gain tools to sharpen and refine their skills. Training also reveals patterns in the sales cycle that are both successful and unsuccessful. The following are five reasons why sales training is essential to your company:

Focus On The Wrong Thing. Most leasing professionals never aspired to be sales reps, they needed a job and fell into sales. They receive initial sales training, which is mainly acquiring product knowledge, then they were released into the wild. The skills they developed along the way are ones of trial and error. Trial and error is a good thing, however to really succeed, skills need to be taught, refined, practiced and strengthened.

It’s a sad situation for reps who never receive training. They make mistakes repeatedly and nobody points out that they are taking the wrong action. It’s like Ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, he was trying to make a “sale” by sending pictures of his private parts to women. Guess what? Seeing that is not going to close the deal with most women. They don’t want to see private parts. Men, take it from me, when women see a man in their minds eye, they are not visualizing that! Untrained sales people are the same way. They talk about the things that are near and dear to them, what they like about leasing, without determining what is most desirable to the prospect. And what about all the media attention the Weiner case is receiving? Is this a pressing issue for our country?

As I write this there are major budget negations going on at Capitol Hill and the media is hardly talking about it. It’s like a sales manager focusing on trivial gossip instead of core issues. The key is to uncover what is most important to the customer and ingrain these skills into your sales force.

Necessary to Invest in Learning & Practicing Fundamentals. Today’s lessees are more sophisticated than ever. There are multitudes of sales reps and fewer lessees. Selling is a complex activity that requires practice. Professional athletes spend hours every day practicing timing and execution of fundamental skills with the help expert coaches. Salespeople are no different, to stay at the top of their game, they too need to rehearse the fundamentals of their profession under the guidance of professional trainers.

Some sales managers confuse product training with sales training. Professional baseball players don’t spend their time studying every detail of their bats and gloves; instead, they practice using those bats and gloves to hit and catch balls. Likewise, while understanding leasing is important, determining what motivates customers fill out an application and how to successfully solve customers’ needs, is pivotal to success.

Sales training isn’t about tricks, slick closing techniques or complex models that are quickly forgotten a few days after training. Effective sales training consists of developing strategies and tactics that build listening skills, and demonstrate how to effectively navigate the sales process. Even experienced sales people must constantly practice fundamental selling skills and undergo periodic training with professional sales trainers to continuously develop and update them.

Coaching vs. Managing. Leasing Industry Expert, Shawn Passman, from Passmar Consulting points out that sales mangers often confuse coaching and managing. “You manage tasks, you coach development. Continuous sales coaching is vital to get the most out of your sales team. With sales coaching everybody benefits with increased profits, repeat lessees and higher profitability”.

Most times, salespeople fail when they have less than excellent prospecting skills and don’t spend sufficient time improving their performance. If you are a broker who works alone you can invest in the large selection of sales and coaching books available. Provide detectable value to your clients and they will less likely perceive you as a salesperson and more likely as a valued resource.

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What impact does attending a sales training program have on change?

It all depends on what type of training format your sales people attend. Too many companies look for quick fixes and waste heaps of money in the process.

Firstly forget Event Style training – you know those one day RAH RAH sessions that promise the world and deliver nothing in the long run. They DON’T work! They have the effect of a hot bath – nice whilst you are in it but it soon gets cold.

I am not saying all the content of these programs is wrong (although some of them just plain are) its just that one-day-only of anything just don’t bring about any real permanent change.

And even if the sales training is relevant, incremental and delivered in bite size chunks over time, if the salespeople are returned to the same environment (same metrics, same rewards, same supervision, same culture) as before then training, no matter how excellent it is, has no lasting impact either.

Ask yourself these questions: What are you trying to change by offering sales training? Do you want change to occur as a result of the training if so can it be defined and measured? What is the point of doing the training? What am I trying to achieve with training?

Don’t laugh most people don’t ask themselves these questions.

Sales Training needs to be an integrated process involving role clarity, clear sales competencies, sales plans, sales metrics, regular infield coaching, etc. all linked to a strategy – not some after thought or isolated event.

No wonder if you walked into your sales staff work area right now and told them they need some sales training you’d get the following responses.

“Not another sales training seminar?? they say. or “It’s so boring, we know all that already??.

Who can blame them? They’ve been there done that. And even if they know it all, the trouble is, many of them have not been given the right support to effectively apply what they know.

A study conducted a number of years ago found that within one week of leaving any sales skills training program salespeople had lost 87% of the new skills they had learned during the training program.

Recent research by ES Research Group shows that 90% of all sales training programs result in a 90 – 120 day increase in productivity – but after that, nothing. It was only a temporary blip! Fewer than 20% of companies show sustainable productivity gains that last a year or more.

What I have found is that sales training only works if it is carefully matched to and directly supporting the use of your sales model, methodology & sales force profile. It really is the last 10%

Then it needs the role of infield coaching to provide the reinforcement needed to maintain and enhance skills and behaviours. In fact, a well-designed combination of training and coaching is by far the most effective and economical way to develop the ‘right’ skills, behaviours and knowledge and see a change in sales performance

Effective sales training can be defined as a planned program within the organisation that endeavours to bring about relatively permanent changes in employee knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours. Behaviour modelling training has been found to be most effective.

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Individuals and businesses have the opportunity of selecting from a range sales training courses available through the internet, or can be held at their location.

With such a choice of training methods, companies and sales professionals can commonly get top quality class product sales education solutions, particularly designed towards the specifications and needs of the organization or workers. Several of these programs come with product sales qualifications and certificates that are recognised nationally and in other countries.

Some on-line training firms provides their course materials utilizing sources and coaching tools that consist of seminars, voice conferencing, and video clip tutorial conferencing.

On line sales management companies have an outstanding remedy for corporations to decrease their own sales training that can result in a reduction in overall training costs.

By allowing a qualified sales training agency to work with their sales training needs, corporations can leave the demands of sales training to specialist providers achieving better results.

With the easy availability of the internet, finding a competent product sales administration organization with appropriate sales training is not difficult any more… You’ll be able to simply search for such sales organizations using any web search engine and make your choice after comparing the reviews acquired from those that have provided testimonies.

You have to be extremely selective, having said that, as quite a few sales men and women, sales managers and corporate executives who’ve invested in training have been terribly disappointed with the results. This can take place because of the purchaser not identifying the objectives to be obtaining form he training in the first place.

So it truly is vital that clear goals and objectives are made the decision in the outset, and the training provider is properly briefed.

This can only be done after a comprehensive examination has taken place of the entire product sales procedure and staff sales performances.

Sales training is beneficial for all these involved in dealing with prospects and potential clients. When any employee speaks to some customer they are representing their business so they ought to know how to treat the customer.

This approach allows staff to take the opportunity to offer other products or services to the customer, thereby increasing overall sales.

Quite a few people won’t take unsolicited calls and may possibly feel unhappy by being approached by somebody on the telephone. So for those making the telephone call it is vital that they undergo telephone sales instruction that equips them to not only manage the potential rejection, but can turn the attitude of the possible client into a positive one.

When the sales team have acquired training in sales, they are more able to help the person relax that they are talking to, and then it is possible to ascertain their demands, and ask about them to reply to a question to help continue to the conversation. In doing this, it increases the possibility of achieving a sale. But even if the phone call is brief, very good training with help the individual to maintain a great perspective of the company leaving them with a positive impression rather than an adverse one.

After you have reviewed the many sales training organizations that meet your needs, it is essential to acquire information regarding the satisfaction of their previous clients so make the request and obtain the telephone numbers of at least 3 companies that the have recently delivered training courses to. Following your follow up with them you are in a stronger position to choose your sales training provider

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Every year, businesses spend a lot of money creating and hiring effective sales training seminars. Many managers feel like their employees still do not get the information they should out of them. There are a few tricks to get the most possible out of these seminars.

Businesses should hire sales trainers that are willing to customize sales training programs to the business. The sales leadership team should meet ahead of time so they can understand the business and strategic initiatives. Industries that sell to niche markets need particular adjustments. This allows the sales team to use the lessons immediately.

Apply time management techniques to sales training. Successful sales people excel at time management, so make sure the sales trainer and sessions will also apply these rules of time management. If a sales trainer cannot explain and distribute information quickly and effectively, then the sales representatives will find it hard to do so as well.

Generally speaking, shorter training sessions are better than one long session. A half or one day sales training session only covering a few topics is followed by short, hands-on practice sessions with sales people. This is better than longer sessions that go on for days without application.

Planned sessions happen right before sales people need to get to work – meeting and speaking with clients. Managers often recommend that sales people practice the new tactics on lower end leads before employing them on big clients. The sales trainer should listen to the sales people so the next session becomes good for strengths and weaknesses indicated between sessions.

The sales team often split up by strengths to maximize those strengths and improve weaknesses. New hires, sales people with little experience, and seasoned prose put into one training session unless necessary.

Trainers will be able to give personal attention to smaller groups. They will train based on the level of experience. This will help cut out unnecessary information and create simpler steps for new trainees.

Information should still be available to a sales team after the training is over. Handing out paper will only cause the sales people to skim read the session and zone out or play with their phones. Sales people need to get actively involved and listen during the training. The notes are often emailed or posted in a seminar to refer back to later.

Managers can ask a sales trainer to give a seminar after training. This allows sales people to revisit things that were unclear to them during training. Repetition of three or more times helps commit the training to memory.

Technology is often used when possible during the training. Sales trainers should use PowerPoint, videos, and engaging information when possible. Trainers should not stand in front of sales people and just talk. They should ask questions, entertain, and show the procedure with examples.

The sales team needs to recognize what is expected. Sales goals often established based on the training. During training, give sales incentives for adopting new practices quickly and finding creative ways to adapt the rules to their own style.

Follow up on sales training to make sure it is effective. Ask sales people to give feedback on what was and was not effective about each training session. This could be done through a survey or email. If there is a lot of the same negative or positive feedback, then later sessions can be adjusted for productivity.