The three keys to effective sales training

We’ve all been through the experience of dealing with a classic salesperson: pushy to the point of rudeness, lacking any real interest in our needs and guaranteed to forget you the minute the sale is made.

On the other hand, some of us have been fortunate enough to work with a sales professional who doesn’t so much sell us something as give us the opportunity to buy it. The next time you’re ready to make a similar purchase, you’ll very likely return to that salesperson and you’ll probably recommend them to your friends, family and business associates.

As business owners, we’d like everyone on our sales team to fall into that latter category, but how do you find people like that? If you’re lucky, you might have some folks who sell this way naturally, but for most, these are skills that must be learned and adopted.

So how do you train salespeople effectively? To be 100 percent effective, you first have to focus on the issues that are getting in the way of sales success for many organizations. And the real issues that prevent success are never just the lack of techniques.

Like most people, sales professionals can often be their own worst enemy. Self-limiting belief systems can result in behavior that undermines the effectiveness of the salesperson no matter how many sales techniques they’ve learned. For example, the salesperson might be selling a product at a price the they would hesitate to spend themselves. That makes them vulnerable to a common sales objection: price. The minute a prospect says, “Gee, that’s really expensive,” the salesperson unconsciously agrees with them and will probably have trouble closing the deal as a result.

The key to effective sales training, or any training for that matter, is ongoing, repetitive, recurring training that reinforces techniques as well as helps the salesperson develop a new more positive attitudes, beliefs and behaviors  about selling that places the customer’s needs ahead of any other.

Successful ongoing training  programs focus on three major components:

Attitude. This is always at the top because it drives performance. People will only perform in their role as they see themselves conceptually. Self-limiting beliefs prevent positive behaviors

Behavior. People have to know what proper behavior is and demonstrate it in their roles. It can be hard for someone brought up in the traditional, hard-charging and aggressive sales environment to change their behavior to more effectively develop sales.

Techniques. Make no mistake, learning good sales techniques can make sales people shine in front of clients and prospects, but by itself, will not take people to the top. Techniques, such as cold calling skills, are most effective when combined with the attitudinal and behavioral elements above.

Properly done, sales training isn’t a throw-away expense or a chance for your staff to learn a few new tricks. It’s an ongoing investment resulting in better sales people and, ultimately, better customers.

Categories: Company Perspectives, Sales & Marketing