How do salespeople in professional services compare to those in other industries?For the most part, professional services tracks the universe pretty closely. A significant difference appears, however, in the degree to which professional-services salespeople improve their ability to apply skills after training. Looking at post-training application scores for all five of the critical sales skills combined, the universe shows an 86 percent gain; professional services shows an 89% gain. The difference is most pronounced when we isolate Critical Sales Skill #3, Questioning/Listening. The best salespeople don’t just ask questions; they ask the best questions. These are the questions that allow them to develop a better understanding of the client’s situation and demonstrate their sincere interest in the client. Salespeople who do this best succeed most often at “selling themselves”—which is one reason why questioning is such a critical skill. Here is training data for salespeople in professional services, vs. the universe in general, when we isolate the skill of Questioning/Listening.
IMPROVEMENT IN CRITICAL SALES SKILL #3: QUESTIONING/LISTENINGA few observations about the numbers in those charts:
- In Questioning/Listening, professional services exceeded the universe to a meaningful degree in Knowledge gain (50% vs 46%) and by a huge margin in Application gain (58% vs 45%).
- This suggests that salespeople in the professional services industry are significantly better than average at putting knowledge to work in the form of real-world performance improvement. They are especially good at turning knowledge about questioning skills into actual great questions when talking to clients.
- By boosting this skill alone to such a degree, the training program more than justifies its cost. And remember that the overall application gain for all five critical skills combined was a whopping 89 percent.
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).