Sales Training for Businesses
With the U.S. economy still in the doldrums, jobs still being cut, global competition knocking on the door and companies looking to run lean and mean, many companies are wanting their sales teams to “win one for the Gipper.” Yet, given the following statistics, it seems that “Houston we have a problem” when it comes to establishing high performance sales people and sales teams.
- 48% of sales people never follow-up with a prospect (a.k.a. potential customer)
- 20% of sales people make a second contact and stop
- 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
- 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
- 20% of your sales people delivery 80% of your sales results
- 55% of sales people should be doing something else
- 50% of the sales managers are too busy to train and develop their sales teams
- 5% Reduction in customer defection rate can increase profits from 25% to 80%
- Retaining customers is 7 to 10 times cheaper than acquiring new customers
- Average company loses 10% to 30% of its customers each year
Strategic Approach – The 1st Phase
Go back to your strategic business action plan and your supporting plans of marketing, sales, customers and management and leadership. Prior to taking any kind of action to implement any sales training, you must decide precisely what you want that training to promote.
For instance, investigation by Gartner indicates the fact that 92% of all customer interactions occur via the phone. If you are losing customers or your objective is actually to build customer loyalty, then possibly you need to look at common telephone courtesy as well as fundamental communication skills instead of concentrating on distinct sales skills such as negotiating or fact finding.
Define Desired Success – The 2nd Phase
In the 1960′s a graduate student by the name of Donald Kirkpatrick designed the actual 4 Levels of Evaluation. What he uncovered is that the majority of training (learning) happens within Level I (Emotional – Did I) and Level II (Cognitive). However for learning to have any influence to the person and the business, the coaching must enable them to reach Level III (Application) and Level IV (Impact).
When you begin with the ideal end results, you are looking at the Level IV – Impact of the Training on the business. For example, if you want to increase sales and recognize that 80% of your sales force generates less than 20% of your sales results, you can easily sort out the non-performers without needing to invest any new dollars in sales training.
Now if your interest is actually to strengthen your sales results by having them work with existing clients, you can predetermine those projected benchmarks and then construct what is a sensible investment for sales training.
Engagement Schedule – The 3rd Phase
Look at your existing sales training routine. You can save a lot of money by not sending your people to a one day or two day seminar to improve communication skills or whatever the sales training objective is.
Do you know what 10×10 equals? Did 100 come instantly to mind? Now if I asked you what 25×24 equals would your mental response be as fast? Most likely not. The reason for the speed of your answer to 10×10 is that you practiced over and over your multiplication tables up to 12.
For learning to be advantageous, that means to produce a positive return on your hard earn profit dollars, there must be time for training through repetition. Also, as I tell my sales coaching and executive coaching clients, the human brain will only digest what the butt will endure. After an hour, two at the most, your sales people are no longer actively engaged in the learning process. Their minds have returned back to their desk and everything that they need to do.
By having shorter learning plans distributed over a longer amount of time, you can significantly increase your return on investment as well as to achieve those goals to increase sales and build customer loyalty. In the past, bringing everyone together was expensive, but now technology allows for webcasts to teleconferencing.
Attitude Development – The 4th Phase
In the vast majority of sales training methods that I have participated in or have examined, the actual focus is at least 90% of the time based on the acquisition of knowledge. Unfortunately, many sales performance failures can be tracked back to negative attitudes rather than a lack of knowledge.
At the beginning of this article, the first mentioned statistic is a direct result of poor attitudes and habits rather than a lack of knowledge and skills. At least 80% of all sales professionals know that they must follow-up on leads as this is the first step in the sales process. Therefore, this indicates one particular explanation sales training does not deliver sustainable results is because the emphasis is usually not on developing good attitudes and habits.
Habit creation is a matter of practice and repetition. Sustainable sales training must build both in depth knowledge and skills along with positive attitudes and habits.
Curriculum Content and Delivery – The 5th Phase
Creating curriculum takes time and really needs a trained business coach with a proven system. There are a variety of sales training methods that can very easily be adapted to your strategy, your business climate and your industry. By working with an experienced business coach, you can utilize her or his knowledge as to what makes an effective curriculum.
Also, look to incorporate audio reinforcement as well. Spaced repetition or what used to be called rote memorization is a proven process to ensure long term cognitive memory. Having the curriculum recorded on CDs allows for your sales team to hear a principle a multitude of times.
Curriculum content works with curriculum delivery. There should be many interactive opportunities including: role playing, team group to individual presentations. Leave the didactic model of lecture for academia and allow your sales team to go beyond knowledge acquisition and into knowledge application.
Business Coaching Tip: Performance is the application of knowledge.
A skilled and experienced facilitator can bring your curriculum to life as well as your sales team. The inclusion of coaching can further increase your return on investment.
Connecting – The 6th Phase
Even if your sales training is in-line to your strategic action plan, you must communicate your expectations to your team as well as to the sales trainer. This communication starts with your participation as the senior executive to sales manager while in the first training session. Let your sales team know that this is an investment in them because you value them as members of your business. This one simple action can yield hundreds to thousands of dollars simply because you have demonstrated through your communication the importance of this sales training strategy.
Dedication – The 7th Phase
Since most sales training programs evolve from the K-16 experience, their sustainability is weakened because of a lack of commitment to understanding how people react to change and therefore learn. In 1965, Dr. Bruce Tuckman published his 4 Stages of Team Development otherwise known as Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.
When a team of sales professionals comes together, initially their collective behavior is united and there may be an upward move towards the desired results. This is the forming stage. Then with a little time, the team members start demonstrating negative behaviors in the second stage of storming. With time, practice and support, things start to click together during the third phase of norming. Finally, once everything and everyone have clarity about what they are doing and how to do it, the team starts performing (Stage Four).
By understanding that sales training takes time and being committed to staying the course, your business can easily secure a positive return on its training dollars. Remember with information doubling every year your sales team needs to be ahead of the competition. The development and delivery of an effective sales training program is your competitive advantage.
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