I feel so strongly about this issue that I recently wrote a white paper titled “The New Role that Drives Sales Leader Value” It is available on the Action Selling web site (see link below). This new role involves the training and development of your sales team.
Sales training always has been a critical job responsibility for every sales leader. But in today’s selling environment, it is no longer enough just to be responsible for seeing to it that the sales force receives some training. If sales leaders want to be successful, it is now critically important that they, themselves, become skilled sales trainers.
Here is my reasoning in a nutshell: It is self-evident that if you want customers to buy from you instead of the competition, you need to distinguish yourself somehow. But, in every industry, we are seeing the end of meaningful differentiation in products and services. No matter what you sell, chances are you have competitors who offer something very much like it.
If your company does come up with an angle that distinguishes you from the pack, that angle can and will be copied. Very quickly.
Without a meaningful and lasting differentiator, you fall into the commodity-selling trap, where price is the only major buying factor—a race to the bargain basement.
How can you escape that trap? You need to end the focus on what you sell. It’s all about how you sell.
End the focus on what you sell. It’s all about how you sell.
Here is the best way to create a lasting advantage that the competition will find extremely difficult to copy: Build a team of the most competent salespeople in your industry through continuous training and coaching.
If that makes sense, then the remaining question is, what’s the best way for sales leaders to approach sales training and sales coaching? I believe that the best answer, by far, is for sales leaders themselves to serve as trainers and coaches.
Several reasons for this are spelled out in the white paper. For now, let me just pose a suggestive question: If you want to conduct sales training in such a way that the skills get accepted, learned, and then actually used on the job until they are thoroughly mastered, who is in the best position to make all of that happen?
If you are the sales leader, then you are. Therefore, who is the best sales trainer? Same answer: You are.
Action Selling in Action
Wieland Co., based in Grabill, Ind., sells furniture to hospitals and other venues in the healthcare industry. Stan Schneider, Wieland’s national sales manager, acts as a trainer and coach in the ongoing rollout of Action Selling training for the company’s sales force. He finds that hands-on involvement pays big dividends.
Here is an update we recently received from Schneider:
“Our weekly Action Selling Skill Drills reinforcement sessions with the team have been going very well. Everyone is working hard to apply the concepts from sales training in the field. We have a special focus on Action Selling’s Act 1, pre-call planning and establishing Commitment Objectives.”
“One of my reps sent me this note last week: ‘Thanks to your training and coaching, I now have four new quotes in hospitals that Wieland has never done business with before!’”
“From a management perspective, this is exactly what we had hoped for.”
For information about how to make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.