1. PRODUCT AND SALES TRAINING ARE ONE
In interviewing buyers, one of the biggest complaints we hear about is the “walking product brochure.” Reps that aren’t customer issues oriented and are hyper focused on product are dead in their tracks. Customers can gain product knowledge in a myriad of ways. It’s the responsibility of the salesperson to connect their product to the business issue or problem through a consultative selling approach. Sales reps that are product-centric tend to jump into product discussions to quickly, failing to gain a real understanding of the prospect’s specific challenges and needs.
Some sales organizations may not be cognizant of the fact that they’re onboarding and training programs focus too much of their time on product vs. the business issues they’re solving. The result is that their sales force is too supply side focused and thus glorified “walking product brochures”. The reason is too often companies assume their team knows how to sell – they just need to understand their product.
The Sales And Product Fix
Buyers today don’t need walking product brochures–they need trusted business advisors. A trusted advisor is a credible expert that provides consultative help and thereby adds value. They’re not selling by pushing and promoting your product offerings. They are instead focusing on the prospects actual needs–identifying real-world problems and demonstrating how their products or services can help.
Reps that today are best-performing fall on the demand side rather than the supply side. Applying such a mindset, their attention focuses first on the prospect’s business issues. They then set out to address their products and services to solve those specific issues and achieve particular business objectives.
Of course product, company and industry knowledge is essential, but it’s only one facet of sales training. Reps need to develop foundational sales skills to become trusted advisors. Such skills include prospecting, planning sales calls, posing the right questions to reveal needs and issues, making effective presentations, addressing objections, and maximizing account revenue. Also, don’t ignore some of the so-called “soft” skills essential to rep success, including effective time management, motivation, and selling ethics and professionalism.
Today’s fast changing sales environment also creates new capability requirements for reps. Sales professionals need quality training in the realities of today’s decision-makers, the increasingly complex buying process, and strategies for assessing the business issues of prospects.
About The Author
Ralph is a partner with The Brevet Group, and for 20 years he has led sales performance teams in the United States and Asia. Recently he also served as a sales leader in both the media and technology industries. Ralph’s work has focused on a unique blend of management consulting and sales enablement to help companies execute their sales strategies. Prior to this role, Ralph was the APAC sales effectiveness leader at Mercer.