“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.” So said management theorist W. Edwards Deming, the world’s leading expert on quality improvement.
All work involves a process. That includes sales work. Yet most sales training programs proceed as if improving sales results were a project, not a process. When they do this, they are dead wrong.
Sales training without a process is a problem, not a solution.
Leading-edge thinking about quality improvement in any field of work focuses on process improvement. ISO 9000, Six Sigma and other change-management programs zero in on process improvement in order to achieve lasting advances in quality.
What is the difference between a process and a project? Process management involves planning, monitoring, and improving permanent repetitive actions. By contrast, project management is a temporary endeavor undertaken to produce a particular result.
For example, suppose you define the problem like this: Your sales team lacks the ability to negotiate price. This is, indeed, an issue for many sales organizations, and if it’s the only thing your team needs, then a sales-training module on price negotiation might be the answer.
But let’s just suppose that price negotiation is a symptom of a larger problem. Actually, I’d say there’s something like a 100-percent chance of that because trouble with price negotiation is always a symptom. Selling your price has to do with how well you, the salesperson, have sold yourself, sold the value your company brings to the table, and positioned your product as a unique solution to the customer’s needs.
Most sales-training companies make the mistake of trying to match such individual symptoms to training modules. That’s the project approach to sales training. It will never give you a long-term, repeatable solution. It will never give you lasting improvements in revenue, margins, market share, or bottom-line results.
Experience the difference that a process-based approach to sales training can make. Check out my book Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You Are One).
Action Selling in Action
Here is a quote taken directly from the web site of one of our major competitors in the sales-training business:
“Because we have over 200 modules of Library content in sales (negotiations, cross-selling, managing objections, coaching, etc.), we are not only able to customize quickly, but we are also able to provide you with proven, effective models, tips, techniques and best practices that will give you the behavior change and the results you desire.”
That sounds great, but it is fatally flawed. Tips and techniques might give your salespeople something to use when certain situations arise, but they are always reactive: “If this happens, do that.” Well, what do you do if “this” doesn’t happen? Or, more importantly, how can you keep “this” from happening in the first place?
There, in a nutshell, is the failure of the project-based approach to sales training. The answer is a sales-training process that allows you to anticipate these issues and deal with them inside the process.
Remember the old saying about giving people a fish versus teaching them how to fish? Give your sales force a proven sales process like Action Selling. You’ll have a permanent, repeatable solution to every selling situation.
For information about how to make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.
Want to see a sales-training system that CAN be described as a process? Action Selling at a Glance.
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).