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I've been playing one of those Solitaire games on my iPad and I can routinely score in the neighborhood of 2 minutes and 30 seconds, with my best time being just under 2 minutes. I thought I was doing pretty well until I realized that my wife routinely scores between 1 minute and 1:20 seconds with her best scores (not score) being under 1 minute. She has scored as low as 48 seconds.
If not for my wife, I would have thought I was a real pro at Solitaire!
This is exactly how many CEO's, Presidents and Sales VP's view their sales forces. Without anything or anyone with whom to compare, they form their judgements on sales effectiveness in a vacuum. I routinely hear things like, "We have a custom sales process.", and "We've been working on consultative selling." Yet, after a sales force evaluation has been completed, those same companies are routinely found to have been lagging, not leading, in those areas.
When it comes to providing sales training for your sales force, what exactly, should modern training include?
You've read a few too many sales blog posts, watched a few too many sales videos, and read a few too many sales books. You even might have downloaded some white papers, checked out some websites, and talked to some sales experts. Many are left with a sense of confusion, because what you think you need is different from what people are talking about, and everyone is talking about you needing something different. Is anyone right? Is everyone right? Is it possible that nobody is right?
Let's discuss the single most imporant thing you should be providing to your sales force right now and how modern sales training should address it.
How must your sales training change and what should it include? Certainly, the training should depend on whether it's inside inbound, inside outbound, appointment setting, inside with responsibility for the entire sales cycle, major accounts, account management, territory sales, vertical sales, channel sales or traditional sales.
It's true - the training should change for every role.
However, there is one constant, that should be front and center of every training program, regardless of your sales process or methodology, or the sales role, frequency, intensity, or duration of the training.
Regardless of how you find your opportunities, selling begins when the first contact, lead or email can be converted to a conversation, either by phone, face-to-face or the video conference hybrid. Once you are selling, then regardless of which stage in the sales cycle you are in, or your sales role, the very next thing that will take place is a stage-appropriate conversation.
All training, regardless of role, must demonstrate how to have powerful, eye-opening, attention-getting, brand-differentatiating conversations. Better conversations than this prospect has had with any salesperson - ever.
And what are conversations? They are the result of the flow that occurs when salespeople utilize advanced listening and questioning skills. In order to train salespeople to have stage-appropriate conversations, the emphasis must be on listening and questioning.
Of course, training must be more than only conversations. However, without training and drilling and demonstrating and role-playing and practicing and mastering and applying and improving those conversations, the steps and milestones of the sales process would be only checkmarks on a list. And the sales methodology, strategies and tactics that are used to move from milestone to milestone would become mostly useless concepts.
Are you providing this kind of sales training to your salespeople right now? You did it last year? Good. What about this year? You must continue to train salespeople because left to their own devices, the bottom 74% will always go back to their default approach. You can't take your foot off the accelerator! Are you providing the kind of sales training that will help your salespeople crash through quotas and goals? Are your salespeople becoming exponentially better - always?
Are your salespeople even capable of learning to sell the way I described here? Shouldn't you find out whether or not they have the potential to sell this way? Which of your salespeople can improve and sell that way is just one of the many pieces of sales intelligence you get when you have your sales force evaluated by Objective Management Group (OMG).