Natasha Kraushaar, a crop insurance specialist for agricultural lender 1st Farm Credit Services of Normal, Ill., was so impressed by her recent experience at a sales training program that she couldn’t wait to tell a friend. An abridgement of her email follows. See if you can express in a single word what it was about this particular sales training course that she found so remarkable.

“I just wanted to let you know about the WONDERFUL sales training program I attended last week. It’s called Action Selling. When I first heard I had to take the class I asked to be excused because [via a previous employer] I had already taken two well-known sales training courses. I am so glad they didn’t let me out of this one!”

“The step-by-step sales system behind this program turned sales training into a whole new experience for me. It is based on a similar philosophy of needs-based selling, but it is delivered as a much easier process to incorporate into my everyday work selling crop insurance. Instead of just talking generally about what you should and shouldn’t do with a customer, this system uses definitive steps.”

“Two other people in the class, who had taken the same previous sales training courses as I, agreed with me that this program offered a much more structured approach and could be easily incorporated into any sales role.”

What’s the key?

What word would you choose to summarize why Kraushaar found this sales training program so much more helpful than others? The word I’d pick would be organization. The course she liked so much might have talked about similar concepts and even taught similar sales skills. But because it was grounded within a complete, step-by-step system, it provided a context – an organizational framework – that was missing from the previous sales training courses Kraushaar had experienced.

If we want to improve sales skills, just as when we want to teach anything else, a basic principle of learning applies: Organization matters. The order in which you learn things matters. Above all, the framework upon which you hang each new piece of information matters. Sales skills aren’t applied in a vacuum; they are used within a certain context. And for sales skills to be truly useful, you must know where and when to apply them within that context.

Unless you can apply the right sales skill at the right time and in the right way, you aren’t actually skillful. To be effective, you need to understand the context and where you are within it.

This is why it matters – a lot – that the sales training programs we use should be based on a sales system that describes the entire sales process in a clear, organized, step-by-step way.

A lot of sales training programs will tell you, for instance, to do things such as ask open-ended questions. But they don’t tell you whereand when to ask which kinds of open-ended questions to uncover which kinds of needs as you pursue which kinds of commitments from the customer. The right sales training course, based on the right sales system, will tell them all of those things and more.

That’s what made the difference for Natasha Kraushaar, and it’s what will make the difference for your sales force. If you want dramatic improvements in sales performance, organization counts.

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).