On any given sales call, what are you actually there to sell? Suppose I said that in most sales calls, your “product” has nothing to do with what you are there to sell.

Outlandish? No. In fact, this concept has enormous implications for sales training. Let me explain.

Any sales training worth its salt must be based on some coherent sales methodology. But for any methodology to work—including mine, which is Action Selling—your sales force must follow the right sales process. The right sales process is the sequence of activities that result in customer commitments that most frequently lead to a sale in your company’s situation.

At Action Selling, we have conducted sales training for more than 3,500 companies in every industry you can name. Absolutely every one of those companies needed a major adjustment to its sales process. Unless companies have their sales process down pat, they can’t possibly maximize their sales potential, no matter how much sales training they conduct. Once a company clearly defines its process, it becomes obvious what the real “product” is on any given sales call.

Milestones and Commitment Objectives

Your company’s best sales process is a series of milestones. For every milestone you’ll have a Commitment Objective—a goal to gain a customer commitment that will move the process to the next milestone. Common milestones include things like “needs assessment meeting” and “meet with all relevant decision-makers.”

That may sound straightforward, but it calls for a radical change in the way you define your product. Why? Because if the commitment you want from a customer in a given sales call is something like “agree to schedule a needs-assessment meeting,” then the product you are there to sell is a needs-assessment meeting.

Let me make that perfectly clear. In this call, your goal is not to sell your company’s hardware, software, or services. You aren’t selling a better bicycle or a better mousetrap. Your job is to sell a needs assessment.

If your sales training isn’t explaining this, then you need different sales training. Why? Because this concept changes almost everything about the sales interaction. If your product is a needs assessment, then instead of uncovering the customer’s needs for your mousetrap, you must uncover needs for a needs assessment. Also, you must position the assessment as a solution to something. So you’ll present the features and benefits of a needs assessment, not the features and benefits of your mousetrap.

The same is true for each milestone in your sales process. Is the next milestone a product demo? Then uncover needs for the demo. Present the features of the demo and the benefits that the customer will gain by seeing it.

In every sales call, you want the customer to commit to take a next step. So sell that step. When this approach is hammered home with sales training, you’ll be amazed at how much smoother things go when the time comes to sell your mouse trap.

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).