Sales training specification and selection and template
issues and factors
your answers or comments - cover all relevant points
1. What must your sales training achieve?
Be able to write this down in the form of a specification using this template. Get input from those with an interest in the sales training (stakeholders). Agree this specification with your boss and other stakeholders. What will the sales training 'look like' and 'be like'? What difference will it make? How will you know if it has worked?
2. Who are the stakeholders?
Who is affected by the training? Who needs to have some input into what it aims to achieve and how? What do the trainees and other stakeholders want?
3. What are the timescales?
For making the decision? For communicating it? For the training? For the follow-up? For the period of impact and assessment?
4. What is your budget?
Per head? Total? Cost breakdown: venue, accommodation, materials, design, delivery, evaluation and assessment? Cost of people's time and travel? Cost as a percentage of improved performance?
6. How will you measure the success of your sales training?
How will your boss measure it's success? How will your people measure it? This must be clear and truly measurable. The Kirkpatrick model is a wonderfully simple, easy and highly regarded method of identifying and evaluating training aims and effectiveness. It is especially useful for sales training. Preferably the cost must be understood in terms of the extra sales and profits that are expected to be derived from the investment. If expectations are vague then you will not know that the training has been successful, and you will not be able to hold the provider or the sales training program responsible for clear deliverables and outcomes.
7. What are the preferred learning styles of the sale trainees?
Don't guess - ask the trainees - involve them in finding out. Use the free VAK and/or multiple intelligence tests.
8. What are the characteristics that your sales training provider or method must possess?
In light of the above, how would you describe your ideal sales training provider and/or methods? Consider the values and philosophy right through to the materials, media, size and scale, delivery and follow-up, and type of service and contact you expect? Consider also how the providers will measure and report to you on the progress of the training. What flexibilities to change dates and numbers exist? What are your contractual commitments? What are the payment arrangements? What certification or accreditations must apply to the provider, and also to the training outcomes.
9. Where can you find suitable sales training providers?
Referrals? Networking? Directories and listings? Past providers who have been successful and well-liked? Suggestions from your team? Universities - seek out the leading-edge? Writers and gurus - aim high - many great people are actually very approachable and not as costly as you might fear. How much can the team itself provide? Everyone has something to teach - and people enjoy being given the chance to teach and inspire others. Other sister companies and divisions? Your customers? Buyers and Directors of your customers are potentially very enthusiastic and very capable teachers of your sales people - and this of course helps develop great relationships too.
10. How can you assess the quality and suitability of potential sales training providers?
Referrals and recommendations? Networking? Case-studies? Demonstration or guarantees of return on investment?
11. Can your shortlisted providers meet your people to see what they make of each other?
Try to achieve buy-in from your team and offer involvement to them in the selection and decision process? Is the provider happy to speculate time getting to know your people, and helping to ensure there is a good fit?
12. Other points?
Ask the potential providers and your team to suggest any other important considerations before selecting your methods and providers.
selling tips - suggestions welcome
Send your best sales tip - maximum 100 words.
Sales tips and techniques like these can be powerful. Ensure you use them ethically and the spirit of good helpful business.
"Treat others the way they would like to be treated." (Sarang Yande, Aug 2012 - This maxim seems like a statement of the obvious at first glance, but much of the time sellers ignore this fundamental principle. The maxim is crucial. Customers/clients/prospects feel immediately unhappy when they are not treated how they want to be, and where this aspect is missing customers generally do not buy, regardless of how good the actual sales proposition is.)
"Develop empathy. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and try to put forward a proposition that you yourself would like to receive." (Thanks V Karmarkar, 4 Aug 2009 - this is an often-quoted sales tip, which we often take for granted, but actually it is rarely practised well. True empathy requires seriously focusing on the other person's needs - not your own - which in today's pressurized times takes a lot of concentration.)
"Slow moving products held in too plentiful stocks can be 'bundled' with a fast-moving product, which involves offering the two products together at an attractive price. This extends value to the customer, and helps to reduce stocks of the slow-moving items." (Thanks A Viswanathan - 2 Jul 2009)
"Large retail outlets can increase sales resource, product expertise and selling activity by inviting suppliers to provide one of their own merchandising/sales personnel to work in the store for an agreed period, potentially on a specially incentivised basis. Even if only for a day a month such cooperation boosts sales capability, and can be increased by involving numerous suppliers." (Thanks C Viswanathan - 2 Jul 2009)
"Towards the end of sale focus on two or three options for the customer, instead of focusing purely on 'the sale'. I always gave the clients two options like 'Can I then look at option A or B for you?'. This way the customer's attention is drawn to two positive choices, and not the 'whether or not to buy' aspect." (Thanks S Balasubramaniam - 23 Jun 2009)
"Sellers typically see just two ways to react to increased costs: increase the sales price to maintain margins; or hold prices and accept lower margins. A simple third option is often overlooked: maintain price and reduce the pack size or net weight of the product, which under certain circumstances can be a useful for customers anyway." (V Seetha - 22 Jun 2009)
(A fourth option is to reduce/spread costs by increasing pack size, maintaining relative unit price, thereby increasing unit value for the customer. Much depends on the type of product and what pack size is beneficial to the customer. The tip above particularly reminds us of the need to be creative in approaching pricing and value, which is especially relevant to negotiation.)
"Recently in a menswear shop I was approached by four separate salespeople who each asked if they could help me. I replied 'No thank you, just looking,' each time. When I worked in retail, I used to approach new customers and would start telling them where things were, or what things were. 'Hello there, men's trousers are through to the left, shirts are straight ahead, suits are next to the shoes, over there. Is it anything in particular you are looking for?' This nearly always caused customers to tell me what they were seeking and allowed me to help them." (R Hepburn - 17 Jun 2009)
"Shops and retailers normally requiring customers to visit personally to pay and take away goods can significantly increase their business by advertising and offering a telephone-ordering and delivery service." (C Viswanathan - 17 Jun 2009)
"My suggestion is to use what I can only describe as the best way to quickly drop down barriers and reduce buyer's remorse which I use with all my customers: Firstly I introduce myself by name and occupation and explain what my job role involves then I follow it up with this one liner: 'My job role is not to sell you anything (customer name); my job is to present you with financial solutions from which you can make an informed decision.' Surprisingly simple yet a highly effective way to bring high customer resistance to a rapport building level." (J Carson-Lee - 9 May 2009)
"Closing time: When it is time to create a commitment from the interested buyer you can either propose something, or you can ask the customer how they want to proceed. If the customer is indecisive, propose. If the customer wants to take charge, ask. Either way, you make it easy for the buyer to buy." (A Lacinai - 10 May 2009)
"I've found a really useful way to deal with a price objection is to ask the customer; 'If we were the same price as (insert other quote here) would you buy from us?' When the customer says yes (which they normally do), ask why. They will then list all the USPs/benefits that sparked their interest in your product and you can explain that your price is what it is because of those benefits they just listed. For most people this convinces them of the value in your product." (A Hollingworth - 11 May 2009)
" 'Diagnose before you prescribe'... Sales people should see themselves as problem solvers, and to solve problems correctly, they must first understand the nature of the problem they intend to solve." (J Pearson - 12 May 2009)
"I read the definition of Marketing by Gurcharan Das: "Marketing is a state of mind, which says, I care for my customer." I always follow that. If you care for your customers, then you will make them comfortable. When you ask probing questions, suggest right products and justify those products, handle objections confidently, closing will be a bit easier. During all these steps, follow-up is a key factor, which many sales-people forget or treat too casually. A systematic and continuous follow-up until the order is closed, and then post purchase, is essential." (R Kowadkar - 22 May 2009) Incidentally, Gurcharan Das is an Indian businessman and writer.
"When a customer says, 'I can't afford it.' I say - 'I am glad you said that... Some of my best customers said the same. Let me show you what I mean...' This enables me to get back into my sales pitch, giving examples. It is a simple and effective (and importantly non-confrontational) way to get back into the pitch after a price objection." (A Swan - 23 May 2009)
"If you are dealing with changing stock - know your inventory." (L Ouaknine - 28 Jul 2009)
And another suggestion from C S Viswanathan, summarised as follows: "Consider making food and refreshments available if you are selling to customers who visit a showroom or retail premises, especially if the buying decision can take a while (for example in relation to weddings, homes and home-making, holidays, vehicles, and other substantial purchases)." (C Viswanathan - 2 Sep 2009)
"Always do what you said you were going to! This will mark you out as different to 90% of your competitors from the start." (T Pizii - 22 Oct 2009)
"When making the cold call - always prepare yourself before speaking to each person, and talk to them as if they are already a valued customer and they know you personally.... smile before you speak to them and imagine they have been waiting for you to call them... In sales training try test telephone calls to each other from a different room and note when the caller is smiling and not smiling... you can feel the difference!" (C Roman - 23 Nov 2009)
"There are two sales tips that will make people rich. All you have to remember about business-persuasion are the two key facets of human personality that come into play when we're being 'sold' to: 1) We all place more importance on the words that come out of our own mouths compared to the words we hear coming out of the seller's, and 2) We all place more importance on the the things we ask the seller to provide compared with the unrequested things that the seller freely offers us. So, when we are selling, our key questioning tactic must be aimed at getting the customer to say what we're dying to 'tell' him. And then to get the customer to ask us if we can provide the solution (which we know is hidden in our bag). Forget the above and you will be forever stuck in 'price-issue Limbo'." (Bob Etherington - Feb 2010)
Bob's points are worth repeating because they are highly significant. Customers are certainly much more influenced by their own words than the seller's words. Customers also are also mucbh more interested in what they ask the seller to provide than what the seller offers, even if the two things are the same. The seller's questioning should always be attempting to help the customer to understand and express what they need, and this usually and naturally causes the customer to ask the seller if the solution can be provided.
The tips above were initially prompted by a 2009 selling tips prize draw offered by, and for which the prize was, the Sales Activator® sales development game system. The winner of the prize draw prize draw was Professor Vijay Karmarkar from Sagar Institute of Research and Technology, Bhopal, India.