What is Sales Training?
Sales is at the heart of success in every business. Quite simply, if you fail to sell your products and services, you go bust. No work for finance, HR, operations or customer service. Now, there are businesses who sell through their marketing strategy rather than via a direct sales effort but, if this is not you, then a large part of your success will depend on your sales performance. If it’s the most important part of your business success, it’s worth investing time, effort and money into getting it right.
Sales training is probably the best route to improvement. It should help each attendee to understand their role in the company’s sales process and enable them to break it down into a series of step-by-step repeatable actions. Good training will also give time for people to put ideas into practice. The theory of selling well is easy; it’s the execution that makes the difference so you need to take ideas and put them into practice within a sales training programme.
Why should you do sales training?
Once a product or service has a proven value (ie. there are customers who will buy it), sales is the most important factor in company success thereafter. The fastest growing companies are not always those with the best value to offer to clients but they are invariably those with the best go-to-market strategies (and the ability to execute them). They identify their target market well and create sales processes to put their products and services in front of enough of their target market in a way that is interesting enough to start the buying process. If you’re unhappy with the growth of your revenue, it’s almost certainly an improvement of your sales machine that will yield the greatest value in the shortest time. Sales training will help you get there.
Who should do sales training?
In small companies or start-ups, everyone should think of themselves as a salesperson. That doesn’t mean everyone is making sales calls but it does mean that everyone should think of their daily interactions (with clients, prospects, friends and family) and consider ways in which to make them aware of how the company could help.
Even as companies grow, I think that growth is best achieved by everyone recognising they are in sales. Often, by the time a client receives their goods or services, they haven’t spoken to a salesperson for weeks or months. Their interactions with operations, customer service and accounts are more recent and, probably, more likely to be remembered. Did each one of these departments remember that they’re in sales too, that they should give a client the feeling of being loved or, at least, appreciated and cared for?
When I interviewed business leader and growth expert, Nicola Cook of Company Shortcuts, for the Sales Talent Podcast recently, she said, “Sales is a culture, not a business department.” You’ll only have a sales culture if everyone buys into that idea. Sales training – tailored to each department, of course – will help with that.
What does sales training involve?
First and foremost, sales training needs to be tailored to company need, the work of the department (sales team training will differ from sales training for your finance team, for example) and the skill level of the individuals in the team. There will be core elements in all sales training programmes and good training providers will be able to give you examples of similar work they’ve done for clients in the past.
My advice would be to avoid getting too wrapped up too early in the exact content. Almost all training programmes will show similar headlines – the key is to find a training company or individual trainer that can hold the interest of your teams. Without commanding the respect and attention of attendees, the content is irrelevant.