How to Increase Sales? Focus on Sales Development Training
By Kris Bovay
To get the best sales results out of your training investment, a sales development training program needs to be focused on your product’s, or service’s, unique value proposition. What unique value or benefit does your product or service have for customers? Ensure that your training program provides information that your sales staff can use in sales planning and sales calls.
Customize the training program to focus on the specific needs of your unique sales staff; by customizing for your own staff you will increase training effectiveness. All training needs to be developed with specific objectives in mind:
- Do you need to train newly hired, but experienced, sales people? For example, for newly recruited sales employees (even experienced ones), it is important to ramp up their effectiveness by training them on your products or services. Review the unique characteristics of your products or services. What benefits do they provide to your customers? What is different about your product or service, from your competition’s products or services?
- Do you have a sales and marketing kit to give to new sales employees? For example: product literature; information from, and about, suppliers; the industry; your competitors; and your business. Include a summary of your business plan and strategy, as well as your marketing plan and your marketing mix strategies.
- Do you need to train existing sales staff to be more effective, to close more sales, to be more successful at prospecting, to improve presentation skills, or more? What type of sales performance training do you need to develop and provide?
- Do you need to train your sales staff on changes to existing products or services? Or to train on newly developed and newly introduced products or services?
Sales development training will help your business increase sales; it is an important tool in effectively managing and developing successful sales staff. Training needs to be a continual process; it starts when you hire new sales people and continues as new products or services are added or improved, and as the market and your competitors adapt.Business owners and managers often behave as if sales people know everything they need to know (perhaps because they act like they know most everything) and therefore they often overlook the importance of continually training sales staff. When hiring experienced sales people, you expect them to be trained and capable of selling. However, to improve the effectiveness of newly hired, yet experienced, sales people, you need to provide product training that highlights the features, advantages and benefits (FAB) of your products. Alternatively, you may have to re-train your experienced sales people to sell in a way that more closely aligns to your changing business.
Training needs to introduce changing sales techniques and tactics; as the market changes or your products change, your sales approach also needs to change. Training for inexperienced sales people is necessary both on a product knowledge level and on a sales skills level. Focus first on basic sales performance and sales skills training; then work on training and developing advanced sales techniques. Your training plan needs to complement and support your business and marketing plan, your strategy, and your business operations.
Put effectiveness measures in place for your training program. For example,
Prior to initiating the training:
- Record the number of calls your sales staff makes (daily, weekly or monthly), by employee.
- Track the number of quotes or proposal requests (if appropriate for your business).
- Record the sales by employee; profit per employee; value added sales per employee.
After training starts, set review dates (usually after at least 8 to 10 customer contacts) and compare to the performance prior to training. On a continual basis, track progress against the pre-training benchmarks. If the training results in improvement, continue with your program. If there is no improvement, change the training. Keep focused on your goals and make sure the training and sales staff know what the goals are. Sales people are typically very results focused and motivated.To engage your sales staff in training, make sure they understand the connection between learning and earning more income (if paid sales commissions based on sales volume).
For those small business owners and sales managers who feel you do not have time to train sales staff, understand that your investment of time and resources in training will pay off by increasing the effectiveness and performance of your sales staff. If you do not know how to build a sales development training program, consider hiring a sales training consultant or specialist to build a custom training program for your business.
Relate sales development training to a focus on why people buy and how product differentiation can help increase sales.
Kris Bovay is the owner of Voice Marketing Inc., the business and marketing services company and owner of the small business resource website, http://www.more-for-small-business.com
Kris has more than 25 years experience in successfully managing and leading large, medium and small businesses; businesses that she has worked with have grown by more than 30% in sales in the first two years. Use Kris’ experience to help you manage and lead your business. Copyright 2008 Voice Marketing Inc