Standard practices and common skills.
Sales training is important, even more so now, in the UK & Ireland, but what is the point of teaching salespeople to be like every other salesperson?
I love sales training. And I hate it. Because most sales training is designed to produce carbon copy salespeople who sell with a standard process, language and strategy. And in the process of doing so, the training often strips salespeople of the unique elements that made each of them highly effective in the first place.
I’m not saying that all sales training is a waste of time. But most sales training has the potential to do harm as well as good. Do you want to know why most salespeople ignore the training they receive? Because their gut tells them that it isn’t going to work for them, but they don’t have the power to just stand up and say so. And if by any chance they do express their doubts or frustrations, they are immediately thought of as “change resistant.” I do understand the need for standard processes and procedures, but there is a way to achieve process standardisation while also retaining the individual spirit of each salesperson.
Some sales training programs avoid this by not focusing on sales process at all. They simply provide an assortment of interesting sales techniques and strategies, allowing salespeople to select which ones are most useful and relevant to them. This is certainly a viable approach, but it ignores the fact that process is vitally important in selling. A salesperson can use all the right skills, but if his or her process is out of synch with best practices, the results can be much less effective.
Sales managers need standardisation in order to effectively manage. If you have a dozen salespeople who are selling in a dozen different ways, how do you manage them? How do you know if they are doing well? If their results are not sufficient, how do you diagnose the cause? Clearly, as a sales manager, you would want all of your salespeople running the same “playbook” so that you could assess results and provide coaching more effectively.
So if we agree that process is important, that standardisation is important, and that all salespeople in an organisation are essentially singing from the same hymnal, how can this be balanced with a salesperson’s need for individuality?
Common Process – Individual Execution
The key is to involve your salespeople in the development of a common sales process that allows them to execute with individual style. This of course is easy to say and hard to do. Defining a common sales process usually involves answering the following questions:
• Who are we calling on?
• What is our typical selling cycle?
• What questions do we ask?
• How do we confirm needs before presenting solutions?
• How do we link our solutions back to the needs we have confirmed?
• How do we close the sale?
• How many sales calls does it usually take to close the sale?
• How many decision makers?
• How much time does it take for the complete selling cycle?
These are just a few of the questions you will need to ask in order to develop a common process. Now, within that process there can be a lot of room for individual customisation. Salespeople can use their own language and stories, jokes and personality as much as they want to – as long as they are following the standard process. This will make it much easier to assess individual results, comparing one salesperson’s effectiveness with another.
Whether your training need is small and focused, or enterprise-wide, you can count on us to support your sales managers and team.