Fluke Calibration is part of the Test and Measurement segment of Danaher Corp., an $18.3 billion company.  When Mark Martin, North American sales director, set out to provide sales training programs and sales coaching to a team of experienced technical engineers, he anticipated objections that would not arise among a group of traditional salespeople.

“When many non-sales types think of salespeople, they think of the stereotypical ones who talk fast and loud,” Martin says. “We wanted to eliminate the cheapness of sales in the minds of our people.  So I was looking for a professional sales training curriculum that didn’t have any gimmicks and was as logical as the thought processes of the people we would be training. We chose Action Selling.”

The idea that nontraditional employees such as engineers should develop sales skills—and receive formal sales training to help them do it—is becoming increasingly common.  More and more forward-thinking companies have become aware that not only salespeople but everyone who interacts with a customer really does need effective sales skills.

Anytime anyone from your company has contact with customers, they have the opportunity to either sell or un-sell the customer.  There is no neutral when it comes to interacting with customers; the needle moves in one direction or the other with every customer contact. Therefore, whenever we have any kind of customer interaction, we are in a sales role.

Because more smart organizations are realizing this, sales training courses and sales coaching now are being delivered to a wide range of employees whose formal job descriptions have nothing to do with sales. These people represent what I call the new, nontraditional sales force.

We at The Sales Board are amazed at the range of people to whom we now deliver sales training courses: doctors and nurses, accountants and lawyers, technicians and engineers, marketers, customer-service reps, product-development specialists—you name it.

‘We used to lose deals with no Idea of what went wrong.’

For Fluke Calibration and other well-run companies, these sales training programs are paying off. “We were a little embarrassed when we realized how many sales mistakes we were making,” Martin says. From sales-call planning to needs identification, from presenting the company and its product capabilities to gaining commitment, “we needed to make some significant changes in how we engaged in sales conversations with customers. We wasted a lot of valuable technician time chasing unqualified deals.  We lost deals without any idea of what went wrong.”

The way Fluke’s engineers think and feel about sales has done a 180 since they received sales training, Martin says. Here, paraphrased, is his list of a few of the valuable lessons learned:

  1. We walk away from deals where we can’t uncover unique needs for our products.  We don’t waste anybody’s time.
  2. Our ability to gain commitment is very good today. In the past we just didn’t ask.
  3. We focus on developing the sales relationship and the value of our company before we discuss products.
  4. Our consulting skills are far greater, not because we improved our technical skills but because we improved our ability to identify needs and to connect needs to solutions.

Critical to the success of this effort, Martin says, was the fact that the sales training program he chose, and the sales coaching that accompanied it, presented selling as a straightforward communication process. Sales skills were not treated as a collection of tricks and techniques, and effective salespeople were not described in terms of personality traits such as extroversion or charisma. Neither were they categorized as “hunters,” “farmers,” “challengers,” or what-have-you.  To the technicians, it was as if the very notion of selling had been redefined.

“Our engineers’ whole attitude towards sales has shifted,” Martin says. “Technical people want to help. Selling is not something that we do TO people; it’s something that we do FOR people. With the sales training from Action Selling, that’s exactly how we feel.”

For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling.  He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations.  Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).