Sales Training

Train Your Team

American companies spend a lot of money on sales training (by some accounts, over $20 BN annually.)  There is a reason for this: sales teams are expensive to run and companies are willing to spend significant  amounts to improve their productivity.

Notwithstanding this impressive spend, it is remarkable how poorly trained most salespeople are.  You should plan on regular training sessions with your sales team; these will help make your team more productive and signal that you want to invest in them.

Do It Your Way

To start, design it yourself, cribbing what you need from the plethora of information available on the web.  I rarely find that a single sales methodology applies to the team and product I am working with; rather, I borrow pieces of various processes, cobbling them together in an ad hoc manner.

Focus your training on four areas: 1. Understanding your target buyers; 2. Articulating the problem(s) those buyers have; 3. Internalizing your product’s benefits; and 4. Developing skills around qualifying, listening and handling objections, and presenting.

Understand Your Target Buyers

Work with your team to understand both the verticals you are selling into and the persona that you are selling to.  I like do do this by assigning profile research to my team, with one team member a company to research and present on each week, summarizing his findings in a one page write up.  Similarly, I like to have my sales team work together to describe the buyer personae we are targeting – having them agree on these definitions as a group project ensures that everyone is aligned on the same target(s).

Articulate the Problems Those Buyers Have

After having defined your target buyer persona, have your team articulate the problems their targets face and where your solution fits their needs.  Helping salespeople “sit in the buyer’s chair” can be difficult – good salespeople are not always especially empathetic, – but this exercise is very important.  The more that your team can understand how the buyer is thinking and what drives him/her, the more effective they will be.  I like to do these as a group exercise, developing a list that we post for folks to review.

Internalize Your Product’s Benefits

When describing a product, it is natural to tend towards its features rather than its benefits.  To counter this, I have my sales team memorize our value proposition, tag line, elevator pitch and cocktail party description.  Once memorized, he/she can riff to their heart’s content; the memorized material is like a magnetic field that enables them to navigate.

Develop Skills

Most of us learn most effectively by doing and this is particularly true with salespeople – developing a salesperson’s muscle memory so that she can perform nimbly on her feet is most effectively done by role play and repetition. (See my post “Getting Your Sales Pitch Down:  Groucho Knew“)

Develop succinct calling and voice mail scripts and have your sales team practice calling each other using these, cycling the team through who they call so that they repeat the process 5 – 10 times at a shot.  Then divide them into pairs and have the caller handle a random list of objections that the target raises, taken from a list that you have developed.  Repeat this process several times so that each salesperson gets comfortable working with the information at hand.

Finally, have your salespeople  regularly practice their presentation/demos with one another.  I like to start with a specific script and insist that each team member be able to present this from memory; once they have it down, I allow them to riff.

Stay Fresh, Get Better

Folks get tired, ideas get stale, repetition can create bad habits – you need to counteract these tendencies within your sales team with regular training exercises that you tweak and renew; revisiting these items every six months or so.

Practice

As I have blogged, there is nothing like practice (“Make Your Demo Sing“) to make sure your team is good at pitching, running demos and handling objections.

 

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