Ideas to get sellers in tip-top shape

score Question:
What are some good sales training techniques I can try?

To get the best results, structure sales training to address general topics first, then specific details later on. Begin by describing your company structure's culture, mission, processes, policies and client demographics. This foundation gives salespeople clear boundaries and paves the way for the supplemental training programs. Next, break sales instruction down into the following levels:

  • Global training. Salespeople get this information from outside speakers and industry conventions. It exposes them to universal topics and techniques to sell your product or service. Global training may include networking techniques, sales philosophies and the use of proper body language.

  • Group training. This takes place in your weekly sales meeting. After reporting and projecting sales, discuss the sales process. Explain how to handle client objections, use presentation books and tolls, and create a sense of urgency to get signed contracts. Try role-playing, where one person plays the customer and one plays the salesman, to make the sessions more interactive and to test their grasp of your lessons. If done correctly, it will tremendously improve their ability to respond on their feet to a real customer.

  • One-on-one training: Fine tune the salespeople's skills by working with them individually. Discuss goals and how you can help your staff achieve them. Then accompany salespeople on calls [once a week with greenhorns - once a month with the stars] and offer advice on their technique. Quite often, you'll help them correct a small detail or habit they may not even be aware of.

  • Keep yourself motivated. Don't take a sale for granted. Athletes always stretch their muscles before they take to the field. Likewise, salesmen and women, should always perform some kind of exercise before they go out on a sales call.

    Ever drive down the road and hear a song from your high school or college years that immediately takes you back to that era? A good sales tape can have the same rejuvenating effect. If the sales teams starts from the office each morning, arrange a brief meeting during which you can pump them up so they are not concerned with anything except selling your product or service. It's hard to get excited about making a sales call when the company doesn't have the personnel to produce the work or you just left a disgruntled client.

  • Hang out with successful people. Have lunch with your successful clients and listen to how and why they are successful. You could do this with your star salespeople or have them do it with their clients. It's a learning process, and it will help to keep everyone pumped up. It also may lead to a new source of business.

  • Know what you want. The most effective training technique is to set a sales goal for each person for each year, each month, and yes, each day. You've hear the cliches, "He who aims at nothing usually hits it." or "Fail to plan is a plan to fail" or "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there." Even the salespeople who train themselves to accomplish their goals tend to be successful. They may work much harder than the best salesperson, but they are driven by their goal.

A wise manager told me: "If a salesperson doesn't work out, it was either a bad hire or bad training. Either way, it stopped at my desk." After years in field management, I full agree.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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