When it comes to sales, there is a lot of on-the-job training that needs to get done. In addition to book knowledge, sales is like being an athlete: No matter how good you are, you need to practice a lot if you hope to improve. That means there is no way to learn everything you need to know without getting out there and actually doing the job. But it does not mean that there is nothing to be learned in advance of your first sales conversation.
Some things are better assimilated at the beginning of the learning process than tacked on at the end. Bad sales habits are particularly hard to break. Fortunately, it's not impossible to undo the damage from poor sales training. But if you want to get the most from your future sales associates, teach them these five things from the start:
Put the Customer Ahead of the Dollar
They’re not marks, leads, dupes, roll-overs, or even prospects. They are people. And If you don’t learn to think of them in those terms, they will never become customers.
When we think of customers as prospects, all we see is the dollar. We see a prospective sale. It is as if the person across the table from us has no value whatsoever unless we convert them into cash. That is putting the dollar first over the person. So from the beginning, teach your team to value the person on the other side of the table more highly than the paperwork you are trying to get them to authorize.
The Value of Practice
How do you learn to hit a curveball? You practice. Sales skills are also honed through the art of deliberate practice. Here’s the thing: practice is the least fun part of the process of gaining expertise at anything.
Trainees are often taught to study, watch others, and memorize scripts. But that is not the same as practice. Trainees can practice having sales conversations with coworkers, family, and friends. They can practice maintaining a professional demeanor in the face of diversity. And they can practice the art of having traditionally challenging conversations, but without the unfruitful argumentation. Study is good. But practice is better.
Teach Benefits Over Features
“Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Let's be honest, this strategy is manipulative and should be abandoned. Also, people want steak. So don’t avoid selling it.
Thing is, everyone else is also selling steak. So what you have to tap into is the other motivation people have for shopping your product. You do that by focusing on the benefits and not the features. Features address the question of what. But benefits answer the question of why. And why is a much more powerful sales question to answer.
Identify the Real Objection
Enthusiastic, new sales people tend to waste most of their efforts on chasing the wrong objections. You will never make the sale if you're running down the price objection, while the real objection is that the product does not come in their favorite color.
Learn to identify false objections early and you will increase your close rate exponentially, which is the point, isn't it?
Accept No for an Answer
Some people enter the sales arena convinced that they can never take no for an answer. That is a classic example of putting the company’s needs over those of the client.
Your product or service may not be what’s best for the client at that time. They will be better served by being heard rather than being pushed into a bad fit.