How to Create a Sales Training Culture
Prepare your company to provide top-notch customer service by motivating your employees to improve their skills.
Unfortunately, too many owners and managers operate as if sales training is a pill the staff takes only occasionally and, more often than not, is accompanied by the motivational support of "go sell."
As we enter what, by all accounts, will be an extremely challenging economic year, never has the requirement for a structured and disciplined approach to integrating sales training into your organization become such a priority.
Differentiating your business from the big-box stores, online retailers and the client's prior experience with specialists is going to hinge more on the people experience you provide than the product assortment you offer.
The human opportunity walking through your door arrives not because you're the cheapest, but because the shoppers are hopeful that yours will be the company to finally deliver on the promise of a home technology lifestyle that meets or exceeds their expectations.
Co-authors Joe Pine and James Gilmore put it best in their new book "Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want." They write:
[I]n a world increasingly filled with deliberately and sensationally staged experiences -- an increasingly unreal world -- consumers choose to buy or not buy based on how real they perceive an offering to be. Business today, therefore, is all about being real.
To truly understand what clients want, it takes being "client loyal," according to Troy Bolotnick, owner of Bolovision in L.A. This means, he says, infusing the necessary discipline, focus and mentoring into your organization, and executing those behaviors on a daily basis.
Only a committed manager can lead a culture to consistently create client advocates, clients so satisfied they're motivated to act on your behalf within their own network of contacts.
Here are a few dos and don'ts when it comes to sales training:
Do create a sales training program. "Schedule activities, conduct weekly trainings, track learning and pay bonuses for achieving targeted levels of customer satisfaction" stresses Dan Moore, owner of Blue Grass Home Entertainment in Lexington, Ky.
"I include techs and installers in the customer satisfaction program, and I provide them with business cards to personalize their client contacts."
Don't confuse product or technical knowledge with sales expertise. "Technical knowledge is like nuclear weaponry," says CEDIA Hall of Fame trainer and Sound Advice founder Joe Piccirilli.
"The customer wants to know you have it, but don't ever use it unless you want to blow up the sale."
Do set clear goals for improved sales behavior and results. "Emphasizing proper sales processes and techniques is important. But it's equally important to have a sales plan targeting key outcomes," advises Steve Firszt, owner Fast-Forward Business Coaching.
"Only then can you have a viable measure of whether the processes and techniques are actually productive."
Don't hire strictly on past industry sales history and experience. "It all starts with hiring the right people, and ours is a relationship business," says Roger Koehler, owner of Electronic Integration Experts in Denver.
"Successfully managing relationships is a by-product of a driven, confident and engaging personality. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink unless he wants to."