Sales training is important for the sales team so that they get to fine tune their skills and techniques. The training program broadly helps sales personnel to understand the selling process, determine the needs of the prospects and speak to them in their language (i.e. from the customer’s point of view). Training also is a useful platform to let the sales team know the common avoidable sales mistakes and maximize meetings with prospects. Over the years, organizations have become more creative in planning the training programs for their sales teams.
The skills that a sales person needs to develop are:
- Listening skills
- Questioning skills
- Knowing the product
- Knowing the process
- Understanding customer objections
- Identifying buying signals
- Negotiating and closing skills
Keeping the above needs in mind, a comprehensive training program can be designed that includes the following:
Listening comprehension: Developing good listening skills is part of developing good communication skills as communication does not just stop with speaking but includes listening as well. If you are having a classroom training session, you could have a small exercise wherein the group is divided into teams. One of the team members could be a volunteer who briefly talks on any given subject – it could be about himself, his problems or simply about how he commutes to work. There could be a time limit of 1-2mins. The rest of the team members should be in a position to summarize correctly what the volunteer says. Those who are able to do it accurately, clearly possess good listening skills. Such activities can also be designed for online training programs as well where listening comprehensions could be effectively used for the exercise.
Developing questioning skills: Asking correct questions and at the appropriate time is an important skill required by a sales person. Questions can be a powerful tool to persuade people or in building relationship. Sales training could include a module where participants are educated about different types of question such as – open and closed end questions, funnel questions and more. While most of us use any or all of these questioning types in our day-to-day lives, we never do so consciously. Bringing in an awareness of these types and where they could be applied in the context of the situations that are typically encountered by a sales person would help a sales person develop good questioning skills.
Developing product knowledge: A sales person should know what he is selling therefore, the fundamental requirement of a sales training program is product training. Product training can be more hands-on wherein the participant can actually understand the benefits of a product or its features by examining the product on his own. He also should have the product knowledge with specific reference to the benefits it provides to the customers as this information is going to be useful while selling the product. In case your company is handling complex product-line, videos or animations of the product features could be prepared and used to train the sales staff about products.
Knowing the sales process: Knowledge of sales process is important and helpful to a sales person; therefore, it should be a part of the training program. Identifying the prospects, preparation for the meeting, product presentation, handling objections, identifying the buying signals, closing the sale and follow-up are important steps in the sales process. A sales person may not be handling objections effectively. Knowing the sales process will help them zero down to the areas that need improvement and further training can be focused on these specific areas.
Informing about customer objections: Sales training should also inform the sales team about possible customer objections and how to counter them. This will ensure that they are well prepared when facing such situations when contacting prospective customers. This will also instill confidence in the sales team as they would view customer objections as normal and not get disillusioned. This should be tailored specifically to a product that the organization is handling. If the organization handles more than one product, the sales team should be informed about possible customer objections in case of each product.
Learning about buying signals: Buying signals indicate that a prospect is willing to invest in the product he has just been introduced to. Buying signals could be in the form body language, questions or statements that the prospect makes and identifying them is an important part of the sales process. A sales training program therefore, would be incomplete without a good knowledge being given to the sales team about identifying the buying signs of prospective customers.
Negotiating and closing skills: Negotiating and closing skills are essential prerequisites of selling. Sales training program should therefore include sessions that focus on these two parameters. Every organization will have certain non-negotiating aspects with respect to a sale and a few parameters which could be negotiated such as free gifts or a discount. Sales team should be trained about discounts that can be offered, what are the areas which are non-negotiable and circumstances where they can make exceptions and the conditions that govern them. These are company and product specific; therefore should be part of the sales training program.
Incorporating the above in a sales training program would surely enhance its effectiveness and equip the sales team to venture on to the field with renewed enthusiasm and confidence.