Inspiration is a good thing. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that inspiration is essential for professionals to achieve their full potential. Inspiration, however, will take a salesperson just so far.
After the salesperson has finished leaping about, he or she must still know how to open conversation, how to overcome objections, how to earn a prospect’s favorable attention, how to design effective open-ended questions, and most importantly how to close a sale.
The world is full of highly motivated and inspired salespeople who lack the skill set to execute the blocking and tackling required of a sales pro who meets and exceeds quota on a consistent basis.
There are a number of effective sources of sales training for an individual salesperson or even an entire sales force. Here are several of them:
• Sales books
• Sales seminars
• Coaching from a sales manager or from a proven sales pro coworker
The most ambitious and hungry salespeople invest in themselves by taking the initiative to seek out these resources on their own. Many sales executives, however, have learned it’s necessary for management to accept accountability for enhancing the productivity of journeymen salespeople by letting the company drive the sales training process.
It has been my experience that the person managing the sales force is perhaps the most critical ingredient to a successful sales training program. The person to whom the salespeople report must not only be a sales manager, but a sales leader, as well. A sales leader sits in on the sales training programs with the salespeople and leads the charge toward the goal of sales excellence.
Sales training can take place in a group setting or one on one between the sales manager and the salesperson. One on one sessions are essential to effective follow up after sales training programs that are conducted for the entire sales team.
It’s my opinion that group meetings should only be used for dispensing information. And individual coaching is always more effective when done one on one.
A group of golfers might attend a golfing clinic designed to improve their “short game.” The instructor might include a short lecture, a demonstration of how to chip from out of the rough onto the green, or maybe even some one on one coaching as the golfers attempt to duplicate a new technique.
The one on one coaching is always personalized for the individual. Rarely do multiple golfers receive identical critiques of their attempts to improve their skills.
The same is true for sales training. Each person sitting in the sales seminar has a different amount of experience and comes from a different place, so it’s the coach’s job to observe each member of the sales team and make individual recommendations to each.
When selling into a red-hot market, the key to success is often servicing current customers by making sure that the right material is where it is supposed to be when it is supposed to be there. There is so much business opportunity that even journeyman salespeople can typically earn a good income.
In normal times, however, only salespeople with fine tuned sales skills can earn an above average income. Competition is fierce. This is not a time for OJT. This is the time when all those years of preparation for a career in sales begins to pay off.