Okay, so you have been put in charge of a bunch of new recruits, most of whom are fresh out of college, bubbling with enthusiasm and brimming with theoretical knowledge! Hmm... big challenge! I'll tell you why. You'll find out, sooner than you think, that all of these "freshers" are more eager to demonstrate their classroom wisdom (maybe even give you a brief lesson on sales management!) and train you rather than get trained by you! The biggest challenge here is to court their patience and attention! Once you have overcome this mammoth obstacle, the rest should be breezy. Sales process training is all about teaching the trainees how to practically apply and improvise on what they have been taught previously. A sales training schedule should incorporate a training curriculum containing more of case studies and experience sharing, besides developing and strengthening the theoretical foundation and conducting sessions on sales techniques.
Sales is one heck of a tough turf that follows the Darwinian axiom of evolution - "Survival of the fittest" - verbatim. Here, fitness implies mental, intellectual and emotional fitness. To make it as a successful salesperson, one has to be mentally flexible, socially active, a sharp observer and a quick learner. If you have the gift of the gab and are immensely thick-skinned, then you have the potential to survive the carnage! The ideas given below aim at identifying and developing these attributes besides enmeshing selling theories and strategies in the trainees' psyche. I would be glad if these tips help you reap rich dividends on your investment in training.
Personality and Attitude Required
To sell a product, you first need to sell your attitude. After all, why would someone buy a product if they don't feel like listening to you in the first place? So, the primary requirement is confidence and attitude training which is discussed in the following points:
Conquer Your Fears
Overcoming your fear of rejection is the first step! If you don't believe in yourself when facing a prospect, why would he/she believe in your product/service? Whenever you approach a prospect with an offer, there are only and precisely two possibilities - either you'll close the deal or you won't! There is no third option so no uncertainties either! Get used to "NO" as you'll be hearing quite a lot of it in your chosen field. Rejection is not the end of the world. Even if you momentarily crumble under it, learn to bounce back and stand up again!
Stop Being a Sucker for Approval
Just because your peers and superiors don't pat your back every time you do something good doesn't mean you're a nobody! Rise above the need for approval as a motivation to do better! Be a self motivator and set standards for yourself. Don't interpret lack of praises as something lacking in you. In fact, a constant hankering for approval and morbid fear of rejection is a tell-tale sign of insecurity. Selling is all about being confident - if you're not sure of yourself, how the hell can you ever convince your prospect to have faith in your proposition and buy your product?
Avoid Being Uselessly Perfectionist
Relentless pursuit of perfection in everything causes stress and induces unwanted aggression. Instead, replace PERFECTION with EXCELLENCE and feel the difference! Type-A behavior will only burn you out and will affect your physical and mental health, thereby, jeopardizing your professional as well as personal life. Remember, the concept of perfection is based upon man-made assumptions of flawlessness - that itself renders the concept imperfect! Therefore, it is always better to give your best shot to everything you do - believe me, it will take you closer to your goals than sticking to some unreliable standards of perfection!
Stop Taking Negativity Personally
When you enter the arena of sales, you would be subject to a lot of not-so-pleasant experiences with customers and prospects. In case of door-to-door or direct B2B selling, you will come across a lot of rude behavior and harshness which, most of the time, is totally uncalled-for. It is during these times that you need to keep in mind that it's not YOU who are the target of all the negativity and verbal hostility. Rather, it is your role as the representative of your company and it's offerings that are being targeted. Remembering this will help you continue your role as the representative of your company which will, in turn, help you react to such an unpleasant situation in a way the company would have wanted you to - by showing tremendous amounts of patience and a willingness to serve the customer/prospect irrespective of their attitude towards you.
Sales Training Process and Required Skills
After a couple of sessions on attitude training, subjective training of sales process and required skills may be commenced. It may include:
Developing Product Knowledge
You must know what you intend to sell! This is especially true in case of corporate sales. This is one of the most important salesman tips. You need to know your product/service inside out and everything relating to it - from industry, competitors, target customers to pricing policy, customer relations and everything else!
Sharpening Communication Skills
Running a workshop on developing sales communication skills is among the most important sales training ideas and should include communication skills exercises and sessions on how to improve communication skills. The success of a sales pitch depends as much on the salesperson's communication skills as on the price and product/service features. Asking the right questions at the right time, advantage of employing direct over indirect approach and vice versa (given the situation), and the art of persuasion are some very critical interpersonal communication skills that may positively alter the course of a seemingly fruitless sales prospect!
This is an important aspect of sales negotiation training. Train your personnel to tackle scenarios where the customer throws a "we have had a bad experience with your product/service in the past" or a "we're happy with our current supplier" towards them. Introduce role-playing exercises and share your own experiences in handling such roadblocks.
Closing a sale should be considered as important as winning a prospect. Set up a workshop where trainees are given opportunities to creatively respond to new situations. Also, teaching participants how to handle queries relating to follow ups, replacements, warranties, etc. should be included among the training guidelines.
Interpersonal relations and personal impressions go a long way in determining the success of a sales prospect. To be a successful salesperson, one must build a positive professional relation with the customer and inspire trust in him/her. After identifying a prospect, one must gain an appointment with him/her to gain more information regarding their need for the product/service, etc. Most of the time, your sales pitch can be customized to match the product/service features/utilities to their requirements. This is true especially in case of car sales and car rental services. Having information of prospect's background (professional, personal, economic), gaining an appointment with the prospect and getting information regarding what he/she is looking for in the product/service are important pointers that may be included among training for selling industrial goods, B2B products and car automobiles.
Imparting a Personal Touch
This is especially important in personal selling. Helping a prospect decide upon the best option and assisting with the entire shopping process is a winning strategy in retail selling. Empathizing with the customer's needs rather than forcing your own opinion down his throat is always a bad idea! After all, the customer is the king and the king is always right. During my management study days, I had participated in a couple of sales events and projects and found that helping an elderly customer with her shopping bags, getting the billing done on the behalf of a young mother, who is carrying a whining kid in one arm and 2 heavy shopping bags in another, never goes waste! These gestures frequently result in customers returning to your store and a customer impressed is likely to return with two more prospects in tow! Personal impression is the most important factor for ensuring selling success.
Patience and Listening Skills
This is an extension of the 'stop-taking-negativity-personally' point elaborated in the previous segment. It is very important to practice, hone and apply this skill in order to be able to take negative customer experience with a pinch of salt. You see, if you wish to succeed, you need to get rid of all ego and the best way to do this is by not taking things personally or getting emotional over customer outbursts. Remember, these outbursts are NOT directed towards YOU (customer/prospect doesn't even know you from Adam!). It's either the company/product you represent that is at the receiving or the customer/prospect is just having a bad day! You just happen to be the venting medium! If you can master this skill, there's nothing in the world that can ever keep you from becoming the best in your chosen field.
All ideas should be implemented keeping in mind that almost all forms of selling (except, perhaps, online selling) involves human interaction. Sales techniques and selling exercises should also include a section on sales etiquette, including how to approach a prospect, how to discuss the deal, how to close it, handling customer queries (no matter how irrelevant) and the importance of being regular with follow ups. The training guidelines should stress on the fact that a customer remains important even after the deal is closed. A satisfied customer is your best publicity media and it comes absolutely free!