When it comes to enhancing sales techniques, some companies maintain a “hands off” approach with new sales reps hired. They put a salesperson on the job and they make it or they don’t. This has certainly been the traditional approach, and salespeople that have come up through this system have done so driven by necessity.
Forward-thinking companies have learned that they can waste valuable personnel in strictly adhering to the “sink-or-swim” approach, however. While a new rep should certainly show initiative, willingness and demonstrate a degree of sales ability, there is much a company can do to mold someone into a valuable member of the sales force.
Training the New Rep
There are actually two main avenues of the training of a sales rep: basic sales techniques, and specifics of selling your product or service. Ideally a salesperson would learn basic sales techniques before learning all about your product or service, but these can certainly go hand-in-hand and in the interest of economics probably should.
Basic sales techniques include elements such as teaching someone to listen, not just pitch. It includes learning a bit about the person you are speaking with. It takes into account isolating and using the reason or reasons the target company is interested in your product or service. There are many good sales texts and training programs that cover this topic well, and these should be utilized.
A new sales rep should learn not just all about your company’s products, but all about your industry, too. As part of this training, the new salesperson should also be fully educated on the competitive landscape, and how your company fits into it.
The Seasoned Veteran
An experienced, proven salesperson achieved that position by adapting proven sales techniques for their own use and making them work. A difficulty can arise when these veteran salespeople reach a certain level of success, assume they now know everything and do not need to attain any further expertise.
A skilled sales manager acting as a coach (as the good ones do) is normally quite accustomed to dealing with such attitudes and has become quite adept at gently handling and/or working around them. The actual truth of the matter is that no one, not even an expert, has fully reached his or her potential. There is always room for improvement.
In raising skill level, one clever measure that sales management can take is to listen in on the top reps’ sales calls and isolate the specific actions those reps are taking to close sales. A list of such actions can be compared with the sales techniques being utilized by less-successful salespeople, and the ones needing improvement can be coached into utilizing best practices.
A salesperson anywhere between the level of new rep and seasoned expert can be coached and trained all the way along the line in this manner. The sales manager can note where they are erring and correct specific sales techniques as needed.
Use of CRM Solution in Training
Traditional CRM solutions do little to assist sales management in correcting sales techniques. They mainly show who is making quotas and who isn’t—information far too broad to really focus in on where sales techniques could be improved.
A leading-edge CRM application, intuitively organized along a company’s sales process, makes it far easier. It can be seen where a sales rep is faltering the most, so errors can be easily corrected. Metrics can be applied that clearly show specific weak points in sales techniques, not only for individual reps but for the entire sales force. It could actually be said that without such a CRM tool sales skill enhancement is difficult and in some cases impossible.
For sales rep levels from new to veteran, do all you can to finely hone their sales techniques. Not only will you save valuable personnel, but you’ll also continuously improve your sales figures.
If your CRM solution doesn’t fully support coaching and sales skill enhancement, find out about one that does.