I’ve just finished watching an episode of Uncover Boss. A ‘back to the floor’ type format where senior managers come out of head office and spend time ‘undercover’ to see what really goes on in their business.
This week a Director from a major car brand explored aspects of his business ranging from car importing at the docks through to sales and vehicle servicing. It was the sales piece that alarmed me.
Spending time with a graduate sales executive who had been in the role of 7 months, the Director was ’embarrassed’ at her lack of basic skill and product knowledge. Of course, it turns out that she hadn’t been on the extensive corporate training programme that exists and was just expected to get on with it. Thankfully, she had the initiative to teach herself as much as possible and had been taking home car brochures so her Dad could test her.
The reason this resonated with me, was that I still find it incredible that companies are prepared to allow their salespeople to face their customers without any kind of experience or formal training. This clearly risks both the perception of their business and, of course, their bottom line.
We often come across people who have been placed in sales roles with inadequate training and experience and then their managers wonder why they don’t perform. Even major companies seem to think that just because someone is of graduate calibre they will instantly become a great salespeople.
To sell well you need to develop a key set of skills and technique as well as develop an in-depth knowledge of your product and understand how what you have to offer benefits your customer. You are there to help your customer make an informed choice.
Other professions require extensive training and development over many years, but some Leaders seem happy to hand over their selling effort to some of the least experienced people in their business.
All it takes to rectify this is a high quality, relevant sales training programme which is fully supported in the workplace by high quality coaching.
Thankfully, the Director involved in the TV programme recognised this and made sure that the individual received the training she both needed and wanted. He also implemented systems to ensure that salespeople were all trained in a timely fashion before hitting the sales floor.
If you need any help to put together a sales programme for your team, then give us a call.
We are pleased to be able to offer a saving of 20% on all bookings for our sales and negotiation courses made before the end of March.
Full details of the course content and dates are available here.
Our earlier blog posts covered one of sales’ crucial skills – planning. More specifically, we looked at a simple account planning process that focuses on ways to make sure your strategic goal is strived for and met.
However, just knowing where you want to get to and how you know when you arrive is only the first stage. The next is considering the journey itself – the sales call.
The major difference between the account plan and the sales call plan is that the latter needs to focus on what can be achieved during the the call. Setting a realistic objective is the first stage. There is no point setting yourself an objective that is clearly achievable in the hour long face to face, or telephone, meeting. So make sure your goal is SMART.
This is a familiar acronym to many, but as a quick recap, your goal needs to be Specific, easily Measurable (i.e. will you know when you’ve achieved it), Achievable (in the call itself), Relevant (to achieving your account objective) and Time-bound (i.e. it can be achieved in the time set aside for the call).
Having set your objective, ensure you have a pre-planned agenda. Ideally this should be sent to the customer in advance of your meeting. Whether this is a formal list of topics to be covered in sequence, or a more informal list of items for discussion will depend on your business, the approach of your customer and the culture in which you operate. We have often found that salespeople in some parts of the world, and in some industries, find this a difficult concept to buy into because of local practices. However, when they start to use an agenda, the initial surprise of their customer turns into recognition of their professionalism and becomes an expected way of operating in future calls. Of course, in some parts of the world this is already second nature.
Truly effective salespeople are proven to not only have an objective and a clear agenda. They also consider in advance what it is they would like their customer to commit to doing at the end of the meeting. By planning these ahead of the meeting they are able to steer the conversation to make sure that it is not only the sales person that leaves with a list of actions. Getting the customer to commit to doing something as well helps to demonstrate that they are truly engaged in the sales process. These actions need to be tangible and measurable. They should be things that the customer has to do once the salesperson has left and that keeps the sale in their mind. The skill of the salesperson is in weaving these actions seamlessly into the call. Planning these in advance helps to increase the chances that they will be achieved.
Taking time to ensure that for each and every sales call these three elements are well planned, prepared and executed will ensure that the call is productive and leads towards the end goal.
We have worked with many organisations to help embed similar standard sales practices and disciplines. If you think we might be able to help you then please leave us a comment or contact us.