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“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.”
~ John Ruskin
I was talking to a regional sales manager a few weeks ago about our sales training program and he told me the following story…
Like most growing companies, we invest in our sales teams consistently because we know that when our sales representatives are encouraged and successful our whole company flourishes. Last year we hired a well-known sales training company to deliver a 12-month program for us. It was an expensive contract, but we anticipated at least a 3X gain. Three months into the contract we noticed that our sales numbers had slumped and morale was slipping. Things got worse from there! It turned out that this well-known sales training company was doing 5 things that nearly destroyed the sales team in a very short space of time.
A sales system doesn’t have to complex, but you do need a system and it must be effective. Your sales system has three main purposes:
You might think that this is a no-brainer and that every sales training program would teach an appropriate, workable system, but that’s (unfortunately) not true.
Again, this should be a no-brainer: every coach gives a steady stream of targeted feedback designed to improve performance and acknowledge positive efforts and results and effective sales trainers use the same methods. Sadly, this is uncommon and so people leave training sessions without any clear indication of whether they are implementing their new skills properly or not.
Sometimes, you’ll hear people say, “that doesn’t work” when what they really mean is, “I never learned that right and discovered years later that I’d completely misunderstood the concept or tool.”
The fundamentals of sales are exactly that… Fundamental skills that enhance your results. A great sales training program helps every participant to go deeper into those fundamentals and should give individuals a sense of momentum. After all, every day, every sales encounter (whether it’s successful or not) is a chance to learn and grow.
Michael Jordan practiced free throws every single day, long after he could score a shot while looking in a completely different direction. He used to say that he was still learning more about himself ands body every day. Successful sales training demands the same level of focused awareness as you tune into what is happening in your mental, physical, and emotional state rather than mechanically going through the motions.
Details matter in sales… Until they don’t. Some sales training programs will zoom in on situational details that may or may not be relevant rather than focusing on the principles that drive your thinking in different situations.
Contrary to popular belief there is no single presentation style or script that will work for every person. As a sales trainer, especially when delivering an in-house program, poor programs focus on irrelevant specifics which leave sales personnel insecure and poorly equipped to handle a change in the product, a new objection, or merely a client with a different personality.
You must go into every sales encounter with curiosity about your prospect and a genuine desire to determine whether your product is a good fit in terms of outcomes and budget. Yes, you need a positive attitude, but you also need to be ready to acknowledge that you might not have the best solution for them.
When you always assume the sale, discovering that your product/service does not fit their needs feels like a failure and that is discouraging. Effective sales training inculcates a positive curiosity and openness that generally leaves both sides feeling positive even if no sale occurs.
Identify sales trainers who focus on creative sales training techniques and train the principles of self-awareness, authentic communication, and open curiosity as well as proven systems that are easy to use and appropriately designed.
Expect an effective custom-designed training program to be designed around a 12-month series of modules so there is time to build skills and understanding. I’ve seen three-month accelerator programs deliver great results and then the company says we’ve got what we wanted so we won’t sign up for the next phase – this is a false economy. Every time that has happened results have stalled.
So all I can say is…
REMEMBER: sales are the lifeblood of your company. Don’t skimp on your training but keep your sales force sharp.
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