If you were listening to Top 40 Radio back in the 70's, then you may remember the hit song, After the Lovin', by the artist that all the girls and women loved, Englebert Humperdinck. For those of you who were not yet born in 1976, Englebert had a string of hits - all love songs. After the Lovin' was his biggest hit and while it may not be a perfect analogy for my article, it makes for a great blog title.
While much emphasis is placed on sales training itself, often times, the greatest benefit comes after a sales training session. For example, let's take Russ, who sent in the following homework assignment. Take a look at what he submitted and then review my response:
Three things from today:
Qualifying your prospect by uncovering pains. Many prospects won’t come right out and tell you that they aren’t hitting numbers or have weaknesses on their team. This means that you really have to create value. I will continue to work on uncovering and listening instead of jumping right in to talk about our products.
Timeline. “How soon do you want this problem fixed?” I will use that when appropriate to short circuit the rest of the sales process. “I understand…what do you have to do to make that happen?”
Find the money. It’s appropriate to talk about money. Ask them where they can get it from and don’t beat around the bush. I will do a better job of making sure that when rounding third base I know that my prospect is qualified and has the funds to close the deal.
These were 3 pretty good take-aways, but if you look more closely, you'll see that Russ, who is on a plan, uses words that compromise his effectiveness. I wrote back and told him that words are everything and to review what I crossed out:
He thanked me for the help and wrote that he would "Try to be stronger in his wording."
I responded again and told him, "Not just stronger in your wording, BE STRONGER!"
It's only after the sales training when we can determine whether the correct lessons were learned, internalized and ready to be applied on the phone and in the field. Should we be surprised about Russ and how cautious and tentative he was being? Not really. His Objective Management Group (OMG) sales evaluation indicated several weaknesses and skill gaps, findings that were predictive of this behavior:
- needs to think it over when making purchases (will allow prospects to do that)
- low money tolerance (thinks $1,000 is a lot of money)
- difficulty reaching decision makers (likely to talk with the wrong person)
- too trusting (accepts what prospects say at face value)
- accepts put-offs (doesn't push back)
- presenting at inappropriate times (too early)
- not asking questions (likely to present instead)
The goal of a sales training and coaching program is to address these issues and help a salesperson to overcome their weaknesses and fill their skill gap. This was only the 4th session, so we are still in the early stages. Being aware of the weaknesses and seeing them appear in a lessons learned email, allows us/you to connect the dots between the training, how he internalized the lessons, and how his weaknesses played a part. Then you can coach!