Sales Training is a minefield. There is a school of thought suggesting that typically the person that learns most during the conventional stand and tell style sales training session is actually the sales trainer. I’m inclined not to disagree entirely with this.
During any sales training, teaching someone how to sell consistently, sell professionally and make commercially astute propositions that engage buyers in the sign off process is a fairly long term process and apt to fail in many instances, for lots of reasons.
Some sales training courses concentrate on showing someone how to sell, this too is equally fraught. A person can only train a student to sell in how they themselves would sell…either way, the student ends up ‘wearing’ someone else sales style…a mongrel of a sales species as opposed to an authentic version of the sales person.
I am often asked; what’s the quickest way to get an under performing sales person or new sales recruit up to speed? How can I get them to understand how we sell?
My response is always the same:
As employers of sales people our fastest route may be to get to understand how our people sell…once we understand how they sell and why they sell the way they do then we have a copy of their sales road map. This allows us to identify where to intervene and we can also evaluate how best that intervention should take place.
The thing is, I would challenge anyone to come up with a definitive guide to how to sell. It’s too subjective and it relies on the inherent personal skills of the individual as much as the skills they employ. But that’s not the least of it…
So, here is a snippet of the best advice I can give you if you are a Sales Manager or Sales Leader in charge of driving sales performance…
UNDERSTAND THEIR LEARNING STYLES
If you have an opportunity then conduct a very brief learning styles questionnaire with your sales people to find out how they learn.
Why? You will understand how they learn, absorb information, gain new sales skills and process/compute the information and knowledge you give them, and it should make a huge difference to how you structure the way in which you convey this information to them. Essentially you need to find out if they learn by doing, watching, listening or reflecting.
Once you know this you can make it much easier for both you and them to achieve a common learning platform.
STAGE 1 – Watch and learn from your sales team – watch them in action, whether that’s during cold calling, lead research, presenting, negotiation, face to face, on the phone….suspend your judgement and watch, listen, learn how they do things they way they do, how they strive to achieve, what skills they rely on, what senses they use, how they demonstrate logic, how they engage, when they engage
This is important because until you know how their ‘sales brains’ work then no amount of sales training can have the impact you desire…and what’s more you could make their sales performance dip.
STAGE 2 – Ask questions. Get the sales person to explain why they do the things they do and how they do them. Ask the sales person to explain to you in such a way as they would if you were a complete sales novice – and ensure there is a high level of detail in how they explain to you. If possible get them to explain this to their sales colleagues as well and let their colleagues ask questions. The key question you as their manager need to keep asking is why….why this…why that…what are you hoping to achieve…why do it that way…why not do it this way…why did the prospect react like that…why did he say that….
STAGE 3 – What if…. Play the what if game. For example ask your sales person…what if we didn’t jump straight in with our sales pitch, what if instead we asked the prospect to explain all about his business – what difference do you think that would make….? The aim in stage 3 is to help the sales person to understand how they can expand their skill sets, how they can get the results they want, how they can get those results easier and quicker. As Sales Leader you can help them through this stage by knowing their learning style – you may want to show them a video you made of them whilst they were selling and compare and contrast that with a video you have of some one employing a more desirable sales style, or you may want to let them listen to call recordings of others to see how they sell in a different way, or review potential call structures, or even better a combination of all means of learning. All pre-screened based on the responses to ‘what if’
STAGE 4 – Teach me. Going back to an earlier point that the person that often learns the most in a sales training session is the Sales Trainer then ask each sales person to go away and prepare to teach you and their colleagues about what they have learned and how they are no going to use that new skill.
Does this process take time? YES. Is it worth it? YES
Are there any short cuts? NO
But look at it this way, if you have taken the time and trouble to recruit someone, them presumably you wanted them on your team….instant sales on boarding is a huge myth…sales training and development is ongoing, high priority, a necessity not a luxury and one of the few key ways you can expect to get the sales team you want.
Carol Griffiths – Director and Lead Consultant
Morton Kyle Limited
0779 002 1885