Thursday, September 22, 2011

 

The two things missing from most sales training programs

Most sales training programs - whether for new or existing reps - focus on sales skills, improving adherence to an existing sales process, or some other largely internally-focused elements. This is important, and many companies do a more than fine job preparing their sales reps to hit the ground running, successfully build their pipelines, and delight their customers and prospects.

But there are two focus areas I find missing in too many sales training programs. If they're missing from yours, you're missing a big opportunities to make your reps smarter and more successful.

Voice of the Customer
Who are they? What do they care about? What keeps them up at night? What's it like to walk a mile (or live through a day) in their shoes?

It's one thing to have a couple slides outlining your customer targets. It's quite another thing to help your reps immerse themselves in what your prospects face day to day. To effectively sell a solution, you have to first understand the prospect's needs and pain, as well as their intended objectives and outcomes.

Some of the best ways I've seen this executed in sales training is to have a live customer (either live or via video) share direct insights on their priorities and challenges, or to have an in-house employee who used to work as a prospect share the same thing live.

Competitive Intelligence
You're not selling alone, or in a vacuum. Your prospects are hearing from your competitors too, and/or have their own assumptions about how you stand up to them. Too often, competitive training for sales reps is an afterthought. Or, if it is proactively addressed in new rep sales training, it's not updated nearly often enough.

New competitors join the fray. Existing competitors update their products. Whenever that happens, the people on the front lines for your company need to know first. They're going to start fielding questions about those competitive changes in near real-time. How should they react? How does your product stand up? Why are you still confident your product or service will deliver better results for the prospect?

Too often as well, competitive intelligence training is defensive or arrogant. Your product or service may be great, but your competitors aren't idiots. They've built products that earn and keep customers. Treat them with respect, ensure your reps treat them with respect as well, but know exactly how to sell against them.



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