Tips On How To Train Your Sales Team To Deliver Better Results
As soon as my boss said, “Well, Sparky” I knew there would be a tough ordeal to follow. “How are we going to get the entire sales team up to speed on selling our new product line before its introduction,” he challenged me.
Faster than Michael Schumacher could upshift his Ferrari, I replied, “We’re going to train them. It will take a lot of work and will have an associated cost, but I guarantee everyone on the team will be pumped up and capable of selling the entire line when our sales meeting is done.”
“Sales meeting? Everyone on the sales team probably thinks meetings are a waste of time,” he said in a doubting tone. “I want to know what you are going to do to ensure success.”
“I’m going to structure our sales meeting as a special event. Events are the catalysts of consciousness shift, and we can structure the meeting to focus on how to present, sell, and support the new product line. By involving every participant in the process, we’ll get their buy-in, and we will naturally sell more products.”
Well, the meeting went off and we launched our most successful product line to date. Every one of our salespeople learned how to convey the value in the product and how to position it against the competition. Even non-technical sales representatives were completely comfortable in demonstrating and presenting a technology- based line, all because we employed a few simple training axioms.
Try these techniques at your next sales meeting and watch your sales team’s capabilities grow:
Isolate your sales meeting from the world. Hold your meeting in a place that is away from ordinary business activities. I’ll bet there is a meeting hall in your local community, or you can rent a meeting room at a local hotel for very little money. For our meeting, we scheduled a cruise and held the training in the ship’s theater. No one had wireless communications to distract them, and anyone that didn’t pass the test at the end had to walk the plank (not really).
Mike “Sparky” Detmer is vice president of sales and marketing for Niles Audio and a member of the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) Multi-Room Audio Video (MRAV) council board.
Involve participants in an interactive way. The principles of adult learning exclude sitting in a dark room watching a boring onscreen presentation. You’ve got to actively involve the participants and act as a facilitator for their learning. In our case, we set up workstations where each participant was able to interact with the product line during the instruction, so they learned about it by working with it. Even the non-technical salespeople left competent and confident in presenting the product.
Include points of relevancy to their jobs. Learning is hard work, and your team needs to see the reasons for investing their time and energy. Structure your material to demonstrate applicability to their work, and explain why taking the time to learn today will be of value to them in the future. We knew our training meant lost sales time/income, so we showed projected earnings the participants would gain to offset their investment.
Interview each member to be sure he or she is proficient. Interviewing, testing, and mock sales presentations are all techniques to be sure that your participants got what they needed from your sales meeting and can hit the ground running. After demonstrating to a panel of judges the ability to install, program, and present the product, each of our participants was given a Certificate of Completion.
Indulge in a little fun. All work and no play makes for a pretty dull meeting. Open your event with a brainteaser to get people involved (“Games Trainers Play” offers several options). Make sure you take frequent breaks. Have snacks and beverages available at all times, and give participants something to take away from the meeting. If you are on a budget, ask your vendors for any premiums that you can give away on their behalf. You’ll likely come up with a hat, mug, or t-shirt for everyone.