In our series on sales force learning, we’ve discussed a number of factors that are highly important to address, including their communication and social skills.
With these in place, we must turn our attention outward: to the customer.
And while it is important for the sales rep to learn all he or she can about the customer before that first contact, it is far from a completed step of the process. It is by necessity something that should be continued and expanded upon over the course of the salesperson-customer relationship.
Let’s take a closer look on continuing sales force training:
In an earlier generation a salesperson would often call someone up, make the best pitch they possibly could and hope for the best. It was very hit or miss: not really knowing the company and their actual issues, the salesperson was taking a guess that the prospect might actually have a problem or problems the rep’s product would solve. If that guess was correct, the prospect became interested. If the guess was off, the prospect would put the rep off and would probably not take those calls again.
The internet has changed many things about sales:
- First, the sales rep has the opportunity to explore a great deal of information about a prospect prior to making the first contact, so it’s less of a guess.
- But second—and more importantly—the prospect can find out all about you and your product or service.
In fact, a majority of companies shopping for a product conduct research on the various options available before contacting companies for quotes. Hence there is a chance that if a rep makes a call pitching a product, the prospect may have learned a great deal about that product and its company already.
Learning everything possible about a prospect company and their issues beforehand means that when that contact is made, a level of trust will be established; the prospect can at least appreciate that the sales rep did his or her homework. That trust will be strengthened as the rep learns more by interaction with the prospect, and by following social media and news items about the target company.
Part of sales force training all about a company is learning its buying patterns. This means gaining as much insight as possible into the process a company goes through in making a purchase of a product or service such as yours. Some of this information may be available online; some of it may only be attainable through conversation with your initial and later contacts. In any case it must be done so that the sale can be tracked and pushed along where needed throughout the sales cycle.
If buying patterns are found to be the same or similar throughout a particular industry, these buying patterns should be heavily reflected in the selling company’s sales process.
Importance of CRM Solution
Given the above, there is obviously a great deal of information about prospects and customers that must be retained for a sales force to perform effectively. If that information cannot be retained in a CRM application in such a way that it can easily be accessed and utilized, sales reps will resort to other methods outside of CRM such as spreadsheets and notes. This type of operation becomes a massive waste of time: data is entered into the CRM solution that will never be utilized, and salespeople must each devise and use their own methods in addition to having to enter required CRM data.
The ideal CRM application—one of the new generation that is now becoming available and adopted by forward-thinking companies—is one that can be easily tailored to conform to a company’s sales process. When that sales process also mirrors the buying patterns of a company’s particular industry, that company is set for rapid success and expansion.
In continuing sales force training, ensure that your sales reps consistently learn everything possible about prospect companies, their needs, wants and issues, and their buying patterns—and that this data is easily available through an accommodating CRM solution.
See our other articles on the vital necessity of sales force education.