Sales Training Programs | Sales Courses

If You Don’t TRAIN Them, Don’t BLAME Them!

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Does Some of Your Sales Team Have

  • Uneven or substandard close rates?
  • Lack of prospecting activity or success?
  • Price discounting when objections are received?
  • A lack of effective questioning or relationship building capabilities?
  • Resistance to coaching and learning?

 

If so, your sales team may benefit from an enhanced sales process, customized sales training programs and new sales tools.  A landmark study of 540 companies conducted by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) revealed that the top 25% of firms (ranked by their investment in sales training) had:

  • 57% higher net sales per employee
  • 37% higher gross profits per employee
  • 20% higher ratio in market value
Moreover, the highest performing companies (in the top quartile based on net profit) in the study:
  • Invested up to 6% of their payroll in training
  • Trained 85.9% of their employees
  • Used innovative training, high performance and compensation practices simultaneously

 

But, as indicated in another study, not all training is equal.  In fact, customized sales training classes that pertained to a specific company, industry and unique needs of the trainees was found to be far more effective than pre-packaged training programs.

 

If you’re considering a sales training program or are holding a sales kickoff meeting, we’d be happy to help!  Just call us for complimentary customized sales training class outlines and sales meeting suggestions.

 

All Rights Reserved.  The Sales Alliance Inc.  San Diego, California.

 

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Sales Training – Short on Results

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Inferior Sales Training Results

 

Many companies looking for the best sales training classes to help them increase sales.  And while that’s the optimal outcome, many sales training classes fail to produce either short-term or long-lasting results.   
Industrial psychologist and sales researcher Neil Rackham reports in a landmark study that sales results typically went DOWN after traditional, non-customized sales training classes were implemented. Why?

Shortcomings of Sales Training Classes

  1. Sales training class materials were not sufficiently tailored to the client company or industry.  Consequently, salespeople selling products like computer networks were using techniques more appropriate to other industries such as insurance and financial services.  The use of suboptimal, less-than-successful sales techniques resulted in a higher level of objections and lost sales.
  2. Sales training classes used outdated techniques, like classical closing and appointment-setting methods popular in the 80’s and 90’s. Prospects’ everyday exposure to older and commonly-used sales techniques helped them easily identify someone as a “salesperson.”  Indeed, when salespeople are “tagged” as such, they are often “screened” and prevented from reaching decision makers and making sales.
  3. The sales trainer(s) hired to present the training program lacked credibility with the salespeople they were training.  In fact, many of the trainers spent little time prior to the training session learning their clients’ businesses or interviewing program participants.  This knowledge gap was readily apparent to the salespeople who, in turn, failed to believe in or adopt much of what was presented in the training.
  4. When initially trying out newly-learned sales techniques with customers and prospects, salespeople often felt “awkward” and failed to successfully use the new techniques. Consequently, their sales results often went down.  Due to a lack of success applying these new techniques, the most common reaction was to revert back to their old style of selling. Many sales training classes lacked the post-training sales team coaching needed to help salespeople through this “awkward use” phase so that they were consistently and successfully applying the new sales techniques.

 

Indeed, for sales training classes to produce measurable results, it is essential to tailor the training to each company and to select a sales training speaker and facilitator who can gain credibility with the sales team.  The Sales Alliance customizes all sales training classes and, to further boost results, can tie training outcomes to company compensation, incentives, coaching, post-training reinforcement and “best sales practices.”

 

 

All Rights Reserved.  The Sales Alliance Inc.  San Diego, California.

 

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12 Ways to Boost Sales Training Results

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Sales Training Class

 

Twelve Ways to Boost Sales Training Program Results

  1. Select a sales trainer who knows or who is willing to invest the time it takes to learn your business and assess your people.  Remember, low knowledge = low credibility,  lessening his or her ability to help salespeople boost sales!
  2. Base the sales training program on the optimal sales process for your business.  The sales training program should use existing or newly-innovated sales best practices that have proven to be successful in your business.
  3. Gain “buy in” prior to the sales training program.  Effective sales trainers will interview your staff prior to training them to understand their individual needs and gain their buy in to what’s being taught.
  4. Tailor all course materials.  When salespeople perceive the sales training program to be “canned” and they spot sections that are not relevant to their business, they often perceive the entire program to be irrelevant.
  5. Spread out the training.  Providing salespeople time in between training sessions helps them practice what they’ve learned, ask the trainer for help when new techniques are not working for them and retain the knowledge longer.
  6. Require salespeople to attend all sessions of the sales training program.  Creative methods, such as tying learning objectives to compensation and incentives, may be useful.
  7. Commit sales managers to 100% attendance so that they can observe their salespeople and note skills bottlenecks.
  8. Develop a follow on coaching and reinforcement plan.   Permanent learning and behavior change occur over time and through repetition.  That’s exactly why post-training coaching is essential for long-term success.
  9. Provide the sales manager with management and coaching training.
  10. Create an optimized sales process and track each sales rep’s performance against the company average.    This provides a quick way to identify bottlenecks in each salesperson’s sales cycles.
  11. Consider using short-term incentives to boost sales activities such as cold calling.
  12. Provide a similar sales training program to non-sales staff to ensure consistent customer experiences with your firm.

For a list of our sales training classes, please view the sitemap on the right hand sidebar of this page

 

All Rights Reserved.  The Sales Alliance Inc.  San Diego, CA

 

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Reducing Objections Boosts Closing Rates

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Difficult Sales Objections

 

Handling objections is often a key focus of many sales training classes.  However, research indicates that sales objections are usually not good!

 

As reported in a landmark study, sales interactions that involved a moderate-to-high number of customer objections resulted in fewer closes.  Sadly, many salespeople invest substantial time developing customer relationships only to lose the sale at the objection handling.  Ineffective and dated sales techniques like defensive behaviors, saying “but” or handling objections by over-talking often contribute to losing sales.

 

In many selling situations, salespeople find themselves often handling objections to price. Research indicates that two-thirds of the time, price objections were simply a convenient excuse or a cover for the “real” objection. Unfortunately, many salespeople take price objections at face value and discount their price.  These discounts, however, may result in lowered customer perceptions and propensity to buy on an ongoing basis.

 

Salespeople are often handling objections without the benefit of getting inside the buyer’s mind.  Do salespeople understand why the customer is objecting?  Are they personal reasons?  Are they business reasons?  Too often, salespeople focus on achieving their quotas without carefully considering how people make purchase decisions.  Consequently, salespeople proceed too quickly and appear to be pushy.  And buyers that dislike “pushy” salespeople are known to barrage their salesperson with objections.

 

With poor objection handling, the sales process can become a struggle instead of evolving into a pleasant partnership.  Good customer relationships, built on mutual respect, can yield many benefits and result in less time spent handling objections.  Indeed, if you change the way you sell to closely conform to how people buy, you will see a reduction in the number of objections.  More than 80% of the objections we experience as salespeople are related to issues involving a poor understanding of the prospect or low perceptions of value.   So, how can you improve objection handling?

 

Techniques for Handling Objections

  • If an objection arises early in the sales process, respond by asking enlightened questions. These questions help prospects recognize both the gravity and urgency of their issues, thus increasing the value of your solutions. By becoming a good needs assessor, you can prevent many objections.
  • List the 10 or 20 most common objections you receive and develop appropriate responses to each.
  • Then, perfect your objection handling technique by practicing with a colleague, mentor or manager. Needless to say, good sales skills training programs can provide a variety of effective and non-offensive objection handling techniques.
  • Next, determine which salesperson statements or behaviors, if any, typically precede each customer objection. Then evaluate the effect of eliminating some of these statements and behaviors.
  • Finally, the entire sales team can track their success handling objections using specific responses and share their best sales techniques.

 

Price objections occurring late in the sales process are typically caused either by fear or a desire to get a better deal.  Fear is emotional, not logical.  Thus, traditional objection-handling techniques that rely on logic will often not work.  So, draw out the real fear issues and get prospects to open up and share their emotions.  Then, empathize with them and be patient while your prospects work through their fear and resistance issues.

 

Indeed, great salespeople receive fewer objections and are adept at addressing prospect resistance.   And the best sales training programs teach a number of successful objection handling methods since no single technique is universally effective.

All Rights Reserved.  The Sales Alliance Inc.  San Diego, CA.

 

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Sales Conferences Often Miss the Mark

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 It’s time-consuming and expensive to produce an effective sales conference.   Many see the single largest cost of sales conferences as travel, living and training expenses, yet the real cost is the sales lost when salespeople are in training!  For example, if you have 20 salespeople who each produce a gross margin of $2,500 per day, the cost of taking 20 people out of the field for a 3-day sales conference is $150,000 in lost profits!

So, how can you make your sales conference both productive and profitable?

 

Sales Conference Ideas

  1. Survey participants in advance of the sales conference to identify needed topics and outcomes.
  2. Plan out every element of the sales conference, publish and stick to an agenda and involve participants.
  3. Ensure that salespeople receive information and skills that help them significantly boost their sales results. Remember, good managers manage; great managers help boost the performance of their team members. Make sure improving sales performance is a key element of your upcoming sales meeting or conference (and feel free to contact The Sales Alliance for suggested conference topics and programs).
  4. Make the meeting fun and motivational. People learn more and are more attentive when they’re entertained and full of energy. Likewise, they sell more when they leave motivated and “pumped up.”
  5. Watch for hidden messages and inconsistencies. If you hope to communicate that your salespeople are important to you yet the company puts them up at Motel 6, are you presenting a consistent message? If you are hoping to help your newer people become effective yet all the “old timers” are the ones receiving most of the awards, what does this really communicate?
  6. Provide creature comforts. Having water, soda, coffee and snacks on hand ensures that people have what they need (yes, some of us are addicted to our caffeine or sweets!) in order to focus on the meeting topics. Providing plenty of breaks (not just a mid-morning and mid-afternoon break) allows people to use bathrooms, take medications, etc. at the intervals they need.
  7. Don’t overdo it. Marathon sales conference sessions generally receive negative ratings. Plan in time for fun, outings, dinners and drinks and never end the meeting past the published times on the agenda.
  8. Coach your presenters. Even the best content can be boring if presented poorly. So, consider having a “dry run” of your sales conference and coach your presenters to be  interesting and interactive (and contact The Sales Alliance if we can assist with this function).
  9. Provide take-aways such as handouts, reference cards, pricing guides and software. People are able to retain more if they have reference materials to both re-read and to refer to when needed.

 

Indeed, time invested planning your sales conferences, along with providing the best possible tools and materials, is likely to provide a high ROI.

All Rights Reserved.  The Sales Alliance Inc.  San Diego, CA

 

 

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Discounting Sales: Don’t !!!

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 Sales discounts and negotiation

 

Customers are trained to asked for sales discounts and negotiate.  Why?  Because salespeople often oblige and fail to realize that the customer already perceives a benefit and wants to maximize value by getting these benefits at a lower price.  And salespeople, hearing repeated price objections, begin to themselves believe that their products and services are not worth the asking price. When we lack 100% confidence and conviction in the value of our solutions, it shows—and the end result is that customers succeed in negotiating sales discounts.  So, what can we do?

 

  1. Quantify the benefits of your product or service to the customer and show the financial savings!  Develop an ROI (Return-On-Investment) worksheet.
  2. Reference other customers who realized savings quickly.  Clip relevant articles that support the benefits and payback of your product or service.
  3. Avoid on-the-spot sales discounts as lowering prices can deflates the customer’s perception of the value you offer.
  4. If you do need to provide sales discounts, don’t do it without asking for something in return (e.g. a commit for certain quantities or shorter payment periods).  And if you need to give something to secure the order, consider including additional products or services in order to minimize the financial impact on your firm (e.g. you provide the customer with a $250 service that may only cost your firm $100 to provide).
  5. If you have the ability to make concessions, don’t let the customer know, or you’ll invite additional negotiations.
  6. If the customer does ask for sales discounts or concessions, determine his or her motivation prior to responding.  In many instances, granting sales discounts or concessions will not resolve the issue and will hurt your chances for the sale.

 

 

Possible Customer Motivations for Requesting Sales Discounts

  • The customer is not sold and does not believe in the value of your proposal
  • S/he is comparing “apples to oranges” and doesn’t understand why your product costs more
  • The customer is sold but does not see how the benefits she’ll get justifies the price
  • S/he is sold and as a good businessperson is simply trying to see if s/he can get a better price
  • S/he is sold but wants a “personal win” (e.g. a “good deal” in order to look good to the boss)

 

Remember, while it is common for customers to ask for sales discounts and concessions, the best and most skilled salespeople are adept at securing orders by stressing value rather than reducing cost.

  
All Rights Reserved.  The Sales Alliance Inc.  San Diego, California.

 

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Sales Training Programs | Sales Courses