Top Sales Training Tips
Selling is as essential an element of your business as, say, preparing a business plan or retaining effective financial control. It is a skill like any other, and can be developed and improved over time and with practice. Writing out an order having attracted a prospective customer and made a successful sales presentation is one of the most satisfying things you will do.
For sales training to be deemed a success it has to make a positive impact on the bottom line. Below are ten tips to help ensure your sales training has the effect that your clients expect.
1. Remember sales is an art, not a science
Science has predictive outcomes. You can repeat a process over and over again and achieve the same results. With an art, this is impossible, as there are too many factors that vary each time. Remember, no two human beings are the same. This applies to both the buyer and the seller. Therefore, every sales situation and sales person will be different. Don’t be too prescriptive and tell people exactly what to say in order to sell. Concentrate on giving them the tools which allow them to do the job in an appropriate way. Good sound principles will not change but their application almost certainly will.
2. Put sales into a context
Selling is a process. Although we can talk about individual techniques like questioning or objections handling, these skills need to be understood within the context of the whole process. All the pieces must fit together. Talk about sales techniques within a framework. This will empower your trainees so they can pick and choose the skills they use depending on the situation in which they find themselves.
3. Talk about buying
Selling is about the buyer and not the salesperson. You must ensure that your trainees understand what motivates people to buy, how buyers reach decisions and the importance of questioning in order to understand who may influence those decisions. It is only in this context that techniques make sense and people can become really effective.
4. Understand who you are training
Ensure you take time to understand the processes and techniques that your trainees already use before you undertake any training. This may mean spending more time with them in the field first and talking to the management. In order to be effective you have to understand how your training will fit in with what they do.
5. Focus on the application
When new methods are presented they must not be too abstract or theoretical. Selling is a practical activity. Therefore any training must focus on the application. Appropriate and practical examples must be given so people can understand how to apply the new approach on a daily basis.
6. Cut the jargon
Don’t use jargon and tired old clichés. In order to make your training relevant and exciting, speak in layman’s terms and make things easy to understand.
7. Address attitude, and not just skills
Training isn’t just about techniques and tactics. Selling is as much about attitude and state of mind as it is about skills. Sales people need to understand the importance of being in the right frame of mind to be successful. They therefore need mechanisms for achieving this. Focusing time on attitude can improve results and motivation.
8. Don’t be an academic
Selling is a practical activity. In order to be credible, and for your training to be relevant, you must be selling all the time. Whether you are selling your training programmes or something else, it gives you a chance to test out what you teach and to update your content to reflect changes in the market place.
9. Remember you are selling
There are none more cynical than a group of salespeople being told how to sell. For your training to make an impact you must get them to buy in to your message. Practice what you preach and make sure you are selling yourself, and your ideas, throughout the training.
10. Follow up
Knowledge isn’t power. Applied knowledge is power. If your training isn’t used it will have no effect. Therefore, it is important that as part of the training programme you follow up. This may involve going out in the field with salespeople or organising a session or an exercise that ensures techniques are being applied. Whatever form it takes, you must ensure you are accountable for the training and that the skills you taught are being used.
Source: Leboff, Grant, The Intelligent Sales Club ltd. [www.intelligentsalesclub.com]. "Revealed: The Top Sales Training Tips." Northeast Business May 2009: 30.