You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. OK, so don’t train old dogs. Same with salespeople. The one’s who already know it all need to be left alone to wither and die in a sea of mediocrity — blaming everyone else in the world on the way down.
Now for the rest of us. Training is the lifeblood for future sales (and business) success. But there are strategies and methods to the training process that will make it succeed. There are also basic criteria for the salesperson.
How are you trained? How does your company train you? How do you train yourself? I just gave a seminar on “How to train a salesperson to succeed.” Having never given the program before, I had to document some universal corporate and self training rules based on my experience. NOTE WELL: Don’t think these are just “company-based” responsibilities. Training is also a personal responsibility. Presented here are the rules for both sides.Here are 17.5 rules for training success:
1. It’s easier to train a smart person than an idiot. Hire smart people.
2. It’s possible to train a happy person — it’s impossible to train an unhappy person. Hire happy people.
3. How good you (the trainer/boss) are at sales determines how willing they are to learn from you. Be one notch better than they are at all times or else there is no respect factor — especially by the better salespeople. Sales training is not a birth-right, it’s an earned-right. You earn it by being better than the rest.
4. “By example” is the only way. Don’t tell salespeople what to do, show them what to do. NOTE: The best way to teach is also the best way to earn their respect.
5. Role play. Present real world situations and let two members of the team take opposite sides of the fence.
6. Teach how to help and how to give value. Don’t just teach selling skills. Teach buying motives. People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.
7. Benchmark real answers. There has not been a new sales objection in the last 10 years, yet you still take the same ones as though you were hearing them for the first time. SOLUTION: List every objection — and with your sales team, come up with the best responses for each situation. Create consistent winning communications.
8. Have contests that anyone can win. Most new customers, highest percentage of increase. Try to keep the prizes distributed among everybody. Select prizes people would not ordinarily buy (weekend for two airline ticket, weekend hotel getaway, color-tv, spa services).
9. Award achievement in public. Don’t be stingy with praise or plaques. Create an atmosphere of self pride in order to increase the appetite to learn new things.
10. Support the sales effort with promotion, products and people. Sales tools to help customers decide to buy, and boost sales minded people to help serve customers. Great sales tools will also bolster sales confidence, personal, sales oriented people will bolster long term relationships. The accounting department, the delivery department and the receptionist must all have sales attitudes.
11. Make your sales people network outside of the normal business barriers. Morning breakfast meetings, luncheon meetings, evening dinner meetings of trade association and groups where you can become known in your community or industry. Don’t just “go,” — participate. Become known as a person who gives value, not a guy looking to make a sale.
12. Pay for more outside training. Every person should join for Toastmasters. Every person should sign up for a Dale Carnegie course, and the company should pay. Gladly.
13. Teach an equal amount of sales and personal development. Courses in positive attitude, goal setting, listening and responsibility were never taught in school, but are vital for the success of anyone in any company.
14. Train every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Weekly meetings are great but daily training is necessary. Even if your people work from home or satellite offices, have a 15 morning teleconference. One new spark every day keeps the brain on fire.
15. Establish an agenda for each weekly sales meeting and stick to it. Make it a fun, participatory meeting. Give your salespeople an opportunity have some leadership role in training.
16. Have everyone listen to sales tapes and read books on sales skills every day. If you want your people to get great at sales, you MUST get them to be a student every day.
17. Stay teachable yourself. If you want to teach sales, you’d better be a student of selling.
17.5 Harness the power of encouragement. Think how much you hate the process of threats and deadlines. Don’t use negative tactics. Be funny and be relaxed — don’t threaten — encourage.
NOTE TO TRAINERS: Have the best most relevant information you can find. Have tested your information yourself with customers and prospects.
NOTE TO SALESPEOPLE: If your manager does not offer a good training program, you may be in the wrong place. And if your company won’t use the training format to make you the best you can be — use the above to train on yourself.
NOTE TO ALL: You don’t get great in sales in a day, you get great day by day.
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Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to email@example.com