How to Train Your Way Out of a Sales Slump - Action Selling ®

How to Train Your Way Out of a Sales Slump

October 2018 – Issue 173

eCoach Newsletter


Dear Sales Executive:

How are your reps doing at hitting their sales goals? Oh, not so hot, eh?

A lot of data exists about reps performing below quota. Estimates of salespeople failing to hit their goals cluster around 50%. When it comes to companies (as opposed to individual reps) that are not on target to hit their sales-revenue goals, the figures become sketchier. But, a careful reading of available data suggests a low-end estimate of about 30%.

That’s an awful lot of companies stuck in a sales slump. Here’s the good news: You really can train your way out of the ditch. Please read on.

If you have a question about how to make sales training pay off with spectacular results, click on “Ask The eCoach“.

We are committed to your professional success.

Duane Sparks
Author of Action Selling ®

How to Train Your Way Out of a Sales Slump

eCoach 173 ImageYes, I know that the landscape is littered with false promises and terrible advice about how sales training can help your company turn things around. Maybe you have fallen for some of those promises yourself – and been burned. Don’t despair. There really is a foolproof training plan to get out of a sales slump and enable your reps to start hitting and exceeding their goals. Here is the outline of a training process that includes all of the elements that lead to success. I guarantee that it succeeds 100% of the time:
  1. Prepare your team to receive the training.
    1. Without motivation there can be no significant learning. Reps must see the need to change, and they must believe in the benefits they will receive.
    2. Give them pre-work to prepare them for the training experience. This will allow you to focus more on the application of new skills during your training.
  2. Train your team on the specific, teachable skills that are required to excel at sales. The five Critical Sales Skills identified by Action Selling ® are: Buyer/Seller Relationship; Sales Call Planning; Questioning Skills; Presentation Skills; Gaining Commitment.
    1. Focus first on the bottleneck in your sales cycle that is causing the most trouble. Does the problem involve prospecting calls? Needs assessment? Presentations? Something else? As an example, if the bottleneck you are working on is “needs assessment,” a focus on questioning skills would make sense. (How, exactly, do you analyze your sales cycle to identify the bottleneck? More on that in an upcoming edition of eCoach.)
    2. Create exercises that allow each rep to put their own spin on the activity. Use an open-architecture method for exercises, where reps are guided to create their own solutions.
    3. Start with the fundamentals, and quickly build upon each skill using relevant examples. Once you’re sure the baseline skills exist, expand the training to fit your specific situation.
    4. Create role-play scenarios using actual client situations so that reps have a chance to practice on deals they are currently trying to make.
  3. Reinforce the training, using field-based exercises and follow-on meetings to check for transfer of the learning into the reps’ daily activities. This is the phase where training most frequently breaks down.
  4. Assess and Certify the skills that are learned and then used effectively in the field. You’ll never know if your training was the reason for improved performance unless you measure learning. Surveys don’t work. You need an assessment.
Have reps practice new skills in role plays based on actual deals they are currently trying to make. Now, and only now, are you ready to set new sales goals for your reps. Once you’ve completed the training process, your team will be much more willing to agree to activity levels that will break the bottleneck causing your sales slump. Whatever the bottleneck in your sales cycle turns out to be—prospecting calls, demos, presentations, or what have you—some reps will accomplish their new goals with more ease than others. One thought here about establishing numerical quotas for certain activities: It’s best if you can get everyone to use the same objectives. However, try to be flexible with your high-performers. Download our new White Paper that offers a fuller explanation of how to use sales training to put an end to slumps. How to Break Out of a Sales Slump and Get Back On Top. Action Selling ® in Action CHS Inc. is a Minnesota-based Fortune 100 business owned by agricultural cooperatives, farmers, ranchers, and other stockholders. Tyler Benson, CHS sales training manager, says that training in the Action Selling ® system has kept the company’s energy division on an even keel through some rough waters. “Our energy division has been a steady performer through recent fluctuations in CHS’s business and the oil industry,” Benson says. “Based on a performance study we completed over the past 15 months, Action Selling ®-trained reps in the energy division sold 124% more gallons of energy products than their untrained counterparts. The energy division’s performance improvement has helped CHS dramatically.” For information about how to make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling ® at (800) 232-3485. For an in-depth look at how the right approach to sales training can make all the difference, check out our new White Paper, How to Break Out of a Sales Slump and Get Back On Top.