Frequently Asked Questions
- You make it sound as if learning to sell is the solution for everything that ails us…
- What kind of background should my sales consultant have?
- How should I go about selecting the best consultant to help us learn to sell better?
- Isn’t learning to sell expensive?
- But isn’t selling obvious? And aren’t you either a “born salesman” or not?
- Who really needs sales training?
You make it sound as if learning to sell is the solution for everything that ails us…
Often it is! Unless you have terrible expense control, or an overwhelming debt burden, improving the top line is always a good idea.
And if people learn to sell properly, and understand how to improve your company's bottom line (profitability) and not just its top line (sales) you'll often see a profit boost, too. While learning to sell isn't the solution for everything, it cures a multitude of ills.
And imagine the goodwill you generate with your employees when you invest in an up-to-date learning experience that makes them more successful in their jobs. It's been proven that employees who consider themselves to be "growing in their jobs" are more loyal to their employers!
What kind of background should my sales consultant have?
In addition to having had extraordinary success in selling herself (or himself), your consultant should have an academic background that you can respect. A person who fully understands business, and how the sales effort fits into the context of everything your company or organization is doing, can be the best help to you.
Look for a background of serious and impressive, quantifiable accomplishment in assisting salespeople to improve their results, and be sure you like the trainer's personality. Selling is an emotional issue if you don't like the person who's teaching it, you're unlikely to get much out of the learning experience.
How should I go about selecting the best consultant to help us learn to sell better?
First, is the person someone whose own track record in selling is impressive to you? You probably don’t want a career trainer to teach something as challenging as selling – better to choose someone who has done it, and done it very successfully, and who has the ability to teach it!
Second, ask for references. Ask for telephone numbers of people who have worked with this particular person (asking NOT just about the COMPANY, but about the INDIVIDUAL who will work with you, is terribly important) and call those people. Ask some key questions:
- What were your impressions of this person?
- Did you get the results you were looking for?
- What do you consider this person’s strengths?
- Would you hire this person again?
Third, consider the potential return on investment when you weigh the cost of the program. Learning to sell is costly not just because you have to pay the teacher, but because you have to take your people away from their work while they’re learning.
Some companies do the training off-site, which requires payment for a hotel room. Other companies even fly in employees from remote locations. And all those things add to the real cost of the program.
Rather than developing “sticker shock” when you add up all these costs, view the true costs in light of the potential value of the program, and the impact it should have on revenue and profits. If you were to increase your revenue only a modest few percentage points, that increase would often be able to pay for the sales education program several times over.
And the learning will pay dividends for the foreseeable future, increasing the value of your investment.
Isn’t learning to sell expensive?
Education in selling skills is the best value around! Because the results of such learning are QUANTIFIABLE - either your sales results improve, or they do not – it's easy to calculate the return on investment in the effort. The only exception to this is in firms for which the sales cycle is very long.
For example, many attorneys cultivate new clients for years before they are given an assignment. In such a situation, quantifying the return on investment takes longer, but is usually still possible, and massive!
But isn’t selling obvious? And aren’t you either a “born salesman” or not?
The best sales approaches are NOT obvious! In fact, the way people buy things has changed greatly in just the last few years so the way things are sold has to change, too. While some of the most effective sales approaches in use today seem obvious, there are other, equally logical-sounding approaches to selling that are no longer effective (if they ever were!).
The reality is this: we have sales research now that tells us what to say, and what not to say when we're selling. If we learn those things, we'll be more effective.
Clinging to stereotypes about those who sell or sales training you had years ago is a bad idea some of the "old approaches" have been proven to be effective in today's marketplace, but many have been proven to be ineffective now. Be sure you know which is which, and that you're using the sales tools that give you the best chance of sales success TODAY.
Interestingly, the old stereotype of the "born salesman" usually someone who talks and smiles a lot has been proven to be among the least effective personality types for salespeople in today's business world! Why? For one thing, people aren't interested in being "talked at."
The more effective business developers today understand The 90-10-90 Rule. When you're selling, the ideal situation is for the PROSPECT to be speaking 90% of the time. Of the 10% of the time the seller is speaking, ideally 90% of that 10% is spent asking questions! Today's most successful sellers are much less talkative, and much more focused on listening and posing the right questions. Learn those powerful questions!
Who really needs sales training?
Anybody whose job responsibilities include finding new clients, or selling more business to existing clients, is in sales. But there's an argument to be made that EVERYONE is in sales!
Certainly anyone in a customer service or client care role is a salesperson; data has shown that our best source of new business is our existing clients, not our new prospects. So consider getting instruction in modern selling skills for everyone, or at least everyone who has contact with customers and prospects.