A version of the article below was originally published in ERT Magazine, January 2016. It’s also available online at their website here.
It’s 9.20am and our sales trainees for the day are filing into the training room. Amongst the warm smiles and polite handshakes we hear a few grumbles: “What time does this finish, mate, only I’ve got to be out of here by three o’ clock.” “We’re not doing role-play are we?” “Don’t even know why I’m here to be honest.” There are always a few. But we don’t mind the grumbles. In a way it’s a perfectly natural response, particularly if the trainee has been ordered to attend by the management.
For new starters it’s different. Sales training is part of their induction. But for anyone who’s been in their job for many years it’s often difficult to understand why the boss has selected them to attend a sales training course. Some may feel as though they’re being targeted for underachievement, and worry that their jobs could be in jeopardy. Many more simply feel that they know everything there is to know and so the training is an inconvenience – a disruption to their routine they feel they could do without.
However, provided the training has been put together with the trainee’s and their business’s best interests at heart, there’s nothing to worry about. Whether you’re being asked to sign up for an online course or head off to a hotel in the sticks, training shouldn’t be seen as a burden. It is an opportunity to increase your knowledge, your expertise and your value, to discover more about your abilities than you ever knew, and to equip yourself with new and sharpened tools that will empower you to be even better than you already are.
Many sales-based industries are driven by innovation and constant change. We know that products and technology change rapidly, but so too do customers and their buying habits. Whether your customers are businesses or consumers, people are much more informed these days and can compare prices at the tap of an app. It wasn’t like that ten years ago, so if you’re still selling to people the same way you did back in the pre-smartphone days, then the chances are you’re losing sales.
Which means that your business is missing out on revenue and its profile amongst your customer base is diminishing.
Understanding why customers behave in certain ways, and what you can do to influence them, is a core component of great sales training.
Maybe you lost some loyal customers recently. Maybe your pitch to a new customer resulted in your prospect asking you to “Send me an email” and now you’re struggling to follow up with them. Why? What happened during that conversation, or failed to happen? Why are your follow-up calls going unanswered? Enrolling on a great sales training programme designed for your business will give you the skills to identify exactly what happened and take positive action to limit it happening again.
If training helps you convert just one more customer every day, or build a stronger more profitable relationship with your existing clients, then it’s working to help you to become more productive, more efficient and as such more valuable to your business. You’re one step closer to realising your true potential, and that benefits not just your employer and your customers, but you too, because these are now your skills, this is your expertise that you’re building.
Which leads me onto this final thought: If your manager has asked you to attend a sales training, it’s because they’re investing in you and your development within the business. They’re investing in your career. Yes of course they want you to sell more, and sell more profitably, and be more productive and efficient, but if they didn’t think you were worth it they wouldn’t be spending the money on you.
So if you’ve been asked to attend a training session in a hotel forty miles away, or been asked to register for an online training course, don’t see it as an imposition and don’t feel threatened or insecure. See it as an opportunity to grab something that will help you raise your game and be the best that you can be.