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Sales training

Originally contributed as a guest blog on SellingPower.com

By Mike Esterday

If you’re like most sales leaders, you’re constantly hunting for the “secret sauce” of sales success. You’re convinced that, once found, that secret sauce will put your organization over the top – and into the rarefied group of consistently top-performing companies.

Look no further. Chances are good that you already have all the ingredients you need. You’ve just added them to the sauce in the wrong proportions.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association to find out what top-performing companies focus on that’s different from the others. The answers were revealing and, in some cases, surprising.

We surveyed leaders at more than 200 sales organizations. We asked them to rate how a salesperson’s achievement drive – that is, their attitudes, beliefs, and passions – affects their performance. Likewise, we asked the same of them about how a salesperson’s product knowledge and selling skills affect performance.

Here’s what may surprise you: More than 80 percent of the respondents rated achievement drive as being of equal or greater value than product knowledge and selling skills in terms of positively impacting sales performance. However, only a quarter of the respondents said they were very effective in delivering sales training that focuses around achievement drive.

That is a tremendous gap between importance and effectiveness on what is potentially the most important driver of sales success.

Here’s the kicker: Those who said they were effective at focusing sales training on achievement drive reported 20 percent stronger results than everyone else.

What about you? Does your sales training emphasize achievement drive and ignite motivation?

What’s Causing the Gap?

If so many executives recognize the value of achievement drive, then why don’t more companies address it in training?

Well, ostensibly, it’s just plain easier to provide salespeople with product information and techniques on what to say and when – and then manage numbers and activities.

But relative ease is only part of the story. In fact, there are plenty of ways leaders rationalize focusing on skill and product training – even when they agree that attitudes and achievement drive play a bigger role in performance.

Based on our study, here are the top four reasons sales leaders ignore attitude and achievement drive in sales training:

  1. Skills and product training are just easier to deliver and measure.
  2. We expect people to have this already when they’re hired.
  3. The subject matter is too personal for corporate training or coaching.
  4. We’ve never done this type of development in our organization.

This isn’t to say that training on product knowledge and selling skills isn’t important. But it will only take your team (and your organization) so far.

When training goes beyond product knowledge and techniques – when it gets to the motivating attitudes that increase achievement drive – that’s where your competitive edge lies.

Top Performers Focus on These Three Critical Conversations

So, what advice can we take away from the lessons of the top-performing companies in our study?

We learned there are three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals:

  1. The conversation I have with my customers – How will I interact in ways that are seen as valuable by customers? This is where training around selling skills/methodology, account strategy, and product knowledge falls.
  2. The conversation I have with myself – Those moments of reflection, inner belief, and personal values are sometimes seen as “intangibles,” but the impact on performance is quite real. This is where training focused around achievement drive comes into play.
  3. The conversation I have with my coach – One of the key determining factors for growth is coaching. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation – a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that salespeople are having all the time – with themselves.

This holistic approach to development requires ongoing commitment from the top and alignment throughout the organization. But, as our research shows, it can be the turbocharger for your success.

When you think about it, it’s not all that surprising. After all, who among us hasn’t felt the undeniable power of self-belief and self-drive? And who wouldn’t want to work for a company that is committed to developing people in a way that unleashes their inner drive and potential? And, just as important, who wouldn’t want to do business with a company that values each salesperson as a whole person – not just a selling machine?

Take a closer look at your sales training approach. Are you missing any of the key conversations that could be the “secret sauce” of your sales success?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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By Bruce Wedderburn

As a sales leader, you’re there to make a difference—a difference in team performance. You’ve looked at the range of experience on your team and seen multiple opportunities for growth, so you immediately implemented the latest sales and marketing thinking to pave the way for double-digit gains over the next 12 to 24 months. It’s the kind of vision and take-charge leadership that has impressed organizational leadership.

The only problem is, the expected sales gains from your initiatives have been slow to materialize. As the months have progressed, others in the organization have begun expressing doubts about your strategy. Worse still, you’re beginning to have your own doubts.

This isn’t unusual. As organizations look for organic growth in increasingly competitive markets, leaders are searching for the latest technology, the next app, that one competitive strategy that will elevate them above their peers. But despite all of the new advances and approaches, the reality remains: Your salespeople still have to have conversations with customers.

Another sobering reality? More than any other factor, the quantity and quality of those conversations will determine whether or not your organization reaches its sales goals this year.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association, and the findings were illuminating. We learned that there’s not one but three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals. Improving any one of these will increase your team’s productivity. Improve all three and you’re on your way to a breakout year.

Here’s what those conversations are:

  1. The conversation that salespeople have with their customers. Customers have more access to more information than ever before, and that’s driving increased commoditization in your industry. As a result, your customers’ perception of “value” has shifted from what you’re selling to how you’re selling. In other words, your salespeople’s interactions are where the real value is today—the value that will differentiate you from the competition. It’s in these critical conversations that salespeople can move the discussion away from price and begin building the elusive “Trusted Advisor” status in the customer’s mind. Succeeding with this conversation is mostly about your salespeople’s skillset.
  1. The conversation that salespeople have with themselves. These are the conversations that all of us have dozens, if not hundreds, of times each day. We each have a set of inner beliefs about who we are and the level of success we deserve to enjoy. Countless external influences over the course of our lives—parents, friends, relatives, teachers, co-workers, clients, spouses, good experiences, negative ones, highs, lows—have contributed to these beliefs and shaped who we are, our level of confidence and what we say to ourselves about ourselves. For salespeople, this inner talk affects what level of buyer they will call on, how many customer meetings they will have, how they feel about prospecting, how they respond to being coached, their vision for their career, how they handle rejection, how they handle success, whether or not they will improve, and the hundreds of experiences that make up a sales or management career. This all affects a person’s attitude and confidence. Succeeding with this conversation is mostly about the salesperson’s mindset.
  1. The conversation that salespeople have with their coach. Coaching is a key determining factor for growth and one of the great buzzwords of our times. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation—a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that both salespeople and managers are having all the time—with themselves.

What the Pros Know About Success

Professional athletes know that the three S’s— stamina, strength and stretching—are essential for success, and so they constantly work at training and developing all three. Most recreational athletes, on the other hand, work at improving only one or occasionally two of these critical fitness qualities.

In the same way, all three success conversations can and should be constantly developed. Your salespeople’s skillset and mindset can both be improved through training and coaching. And when their skillset and mindset are working together, supported by effective coaching of both, your sales organization will be on the way to new levels of success and satisfaction.

Too many organizations look to external factors such as new technologies and the latest fads for the answers to growth. That’s like a professional tennis player who looks to the latest advances in racquet string technology, cloud-based ball tracking systems and energy-rebounding shoe design while overlooking the importance of improving foot-speed, confidence and fitness.

Without mastering what’s most important, the rest doesn’t matter.

What conversations are your salespeople having?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions

 

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It seems that every time you turn around there’s some new way to communicate. We’ve gone from snail mail to faxing to e-mail to instant messaging to texting to social media. We even have new ways to photo-bomb!

But the customers have spoken, and it seems that in spite of all these technological advances, 79% of them prefer the telephone as their method for interacting with customer service centers.

While it might seem like a computer-savvy customer would prefer the speed and ease of conducting business online without ever having to speak with anyone, it’s hard to argue with a number like 79%.

So, what is it about the telephone that makes it the communication method of choice? Well, the answer is pretty simple: Customers still want a human touch.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, the latest research shows that the most effective way to maximizecall-center customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers on an emotional level.

In essence, there are two factors shaping call centers today, and they’re interconnected: Customers prefer to have a phone conversation, and customer “value” is defined by the degree to which a customer feels emotionally engaged during that phone conversation.

How well equipped are your call center agents to adapt to these new realities and execute on this directive from customers?

Smart companies have tossed out the old playbooks that instructed call center employees to recite an impersonal script, get the customer’s name and credit card number as quickly as possible, minimize call time, and move on to the next customer.

Instead, leading organizations are now encouraging their call center employees to connect with their customers. They are emboldened to be problem solvers, to think outside of the box and to gain their customer’s trust. Boilerplate scripts and restrictive efficiency metrics are fading away in favor of meaningful connections.

These agents are building relationships. And those relationships are building loyalty.

When you consider that last year in the U.S. alone, the estimated cost of customers switching service providers due to poor customer service was $1.6 trillion, this just makes good business sense.

But here’s the best part. When you equip your employees to connect with customers as advisors rather than order takers, you instill a sense of pride. They recognize that they are an integral part of the solution. This not only makes their jobs more rewarding, it also increases their engagement and motivation. As a result, they are able to deliver a level of customer service that is completely genuine and demonstrates their compassion and concern. And that means everybody wins—the customer, the company and the call center agents themselves.

Enabling your call center agents to do what they need to do to convert more calls to customers and ensure that they retain those customers is the smart way forward. Equip them to be compassionate, to solve problems, to take ownership, to be human. Give them that sense of pride. Your customers will thank you. And you’ll reap the results.

Re- Blogged From:-

Integrity Solution

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Companies are beginning to recognize the value in their call centers, not just as moneymakers but also as an integral part of call-centers developing long-term, business relationships. For an industry that typically tracks, measures and controls metrics like call time and volume, it’s easy to think that the value lies in data and quantitative improvements. Think again. These measures general focus on efficiency, not revenue.

Savvy companies are starting to see what was previously viewed as a necessary cost drain should now be treated as a critical component to their customer loyalty strategy—even an investment in future growth. The million-dollar questions:

How have call centers catapulted from being the low ones on the totem pole to acting as the trusted advisors contributing to profitability? And what has caused this dramatic shift?

The answer to both is, quite simply, your customers. With the rise of technology in all aspects of life, customers have gotten used to getting things done in the most efficient way possible. They no longer want or have the time to physically meet with a sales rep, nor do they want to get involved in a lengthy sales cycle. The Internet is one option, but for many, there’s still a desire for human contact, so call centers have become increasingly important.

The phone! It’s quick; it’s efficient and there’s a real person on the other end of the line. What’s more, well-trained call center professionals who have a positive outlook about sales through service are able to skillfully guide clients into additional purchases, bringing in additional revenue for the company.

The result is that the call centers have become profitable, but that’s not the only positive outcome. Call center professionals are gaining trust. They are building enduring, beneficial relationships. They are establishing a loyal customer following and helping the business deliver on its ultimate mission and purpose. Customers are not only trusting the advice; they’re learning to depend on the informed suggestions offered by skilled call center personnel. They are perceiving call center agents as partners, not just providers. Smart companies are recognizing that when they focus on partnerships, profit is the natural by-product.

There’s still work to be done. Recent research from Lee Resources revealed that 80% of companies believe that they deliver superior customer service, while only 8% of customers feel the same. And if American Express’s findings are true—that Americans tell an average of nine people about a good experience but 16 people about a bad one (and that doesn’t even include negative Facebook postings or tweets!)—then companies need to be especially worried about that huge percentage of customers who believe they’re getting less than superior service.

Yet if companies recognize that people and profit are not mutually exclusive, and if they equip their agents to engage in the dialogue that’s necessary to drive revenue, they will position themselves for long-term, positive results.

Dialogue That Pays Off

What does that dialogue look like? Here are a few of the key areas the most effective call center professionals keep top of mind and have become particularly skilled at:

  • Building trust and rapport
  • Putting customers at ease and making them feel important
  • Asking compelling questions to uncover needs
  • Following a proven, structured sales process
  • Actively listening for cues about challenges and wants
  • Understanding Behavior Styles and adjusting accordingly
  • Restating or paraphrasing points
  • Offering solutions that meet needs and create value
  • Translating product and service features into benefits

As more call centers focus on relevant, business-aligned learning and development strategies for their teams, call centers will continue to increase the top line.

The take-away? Put your money in your people. Align standards used to measure success with revenue and customer satisfaction goals, and watch your numbers go up!

 

Re- Blogged from :- Integrity Solutions

Source:- http://www.integritysolutions.com/service/call-centers-can-profit-centers-investing-dialogue

 

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In the old days, if you were a valued customer of a company (and you were, because all customers were valued in the old days), you had a specific contact through whom all transactions were processed. If your contact was on vacation, you might be forced to go through the company’s call center, but that was always a last resort because you believed that whoever answered that phone was going to be about three fries short of a Happy Meal.

Call centers didn’t earn a lot of respect from their own companies either. They were viewed strictly as a cost drain. Companies felt required to have them, but they didn’t feel required to support them with much more than the skills and tools they needed to be processors of the most mundane tasks. After all, highly trained sales representatives were there to do the heavy lifting.

But those old days are gone. The Internet came along and changed the way we do business, the way we shop, the way we entertain ourselves, the way we live. Customers began to realize that they could save time and money by conducting business online, and those personal representatives who had been so important before slowly began to fade. The times they were a-changing.

But here’s what didn’t change. Customers still wanted service. They wanted to maintain that feeling of having a business relationship. And that was no easy feat, considering that a high percentage of their transactions were done with two mouse clicks and the enter key. But occasionally, they would still need to have a little human contact, like if the website was down, or the transaction was complicated, or they had carpal tunnel. So companies had a new challenge: Re-purposing their tired call centers into profitable, customer satisfaction centers.

Enter the new and improved call center!

Today, the call center has earned a new respect, because the call center has become a company’s initial shot at true customer service. Smart companies have begun to understand that their call centers are their face, their voice and their smile. The call centers are giving them a chance to stand out against their competition. They are the one opportunity the company has to sell itself. The call centers have made a colossal shift. They’ve gone from zero to hero!

Not only have call centers, in most cases, become the company’s front line, but they’re also doing something else that they’d never done before. They’re making money! They’re no longer just overhead or a necessary evil. Because of the service they provide, in essence, they’ve been able to eliminate long selling cycles.

It’s also critical to note that call centers are not only making money, they’re saving money. With well-trained call center professionals, companies are able to reduce their sales cycle—or even their sales force. These kinds of call centers can handily pick up the slack. And the company profits soar—but not at the risk of customer satisfaction. If anything, customers are more satisfied with their experience when transacting their business through a call center, citing ease and expedience of transactions as the reason to use call centers.

There’s no denying that in the last five years, as the U.S. economy has picked up, so have revenues generated from call centers. The shift is customer driven. Companies who are listening to their customers understand that their call centers need to play a more prominent role in their overall business strategies. According to eConsultancy, a whopping 61% of consumers prefer the phone as their channel for conducting business. That should be a strong impetus for companies to make sure that their call centers are functioning efficiently, able to serve and sell value, and have customer satisfaction as their number one goal.

What are you doing to help your call center helping your business?

 

Re – Blogged From :- Integrity Solutions

 

Source:- http://www.integritysolutions.com/service/helping-call-center-help-business

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Companies around the world rely on various sales departments to increase their revenue and make sure the company runs at a profit. The problem is that not everyone can sell, which is why so many companies send their teams for corporate sales training.

Through this level of expert teaching, the teams learn to approach customers in a positive way. Having knowledge about the product or service they are selling, understanding the customer’s specific requirements and convincing them that the product being sold best suits their expectations, are taught.

increase salesTeam that can positivity impact the company on revenue is a benefit to any company, which is why so many companies to pay for quality corporate sales training, ensuring their teams have the knowledge and ability to close the deal when the time comes.

It doesn’t matter if the team is selling cosmetics, cleaning products or large machinery worth millions, the same principles apply. The good news is with the right corporate sales training, all staff members can learn how to negotiate and sell.

The team will learn how to gain their customer’s trust. Trust goes a long way during sales negotiations or even getting new customers through the door. Many companies have dedicated sales teams working to introduce new customers to their products. These customers then open accounts.

Customer’s aren’t willing to make a change, especially when they’ve been using one company for years, which is why the team need to learn how to create trust between the company and the customer to win that customer’s business.

During corporate sales training, the sales team learn how to ask questions relevant to their customer in order to decide the best products or services to meet that customer’s needs.

Trust is essential when looking to introduce more customers to the company, the more customers you have the higher your sales revenue. Many companies offer an account to their corporate clients, which is why the teams procure new customer and not the actual sales.

When it comes to the sales side, there are often sales teams that take orders and ensure quality customer service. These team members can also benefit from corporate sales training, they learn how to ask questions and what questions to ask the customer to determine if the product they are looking for will meet their specific requirements.

It’s essential that the team believe in the products and services that they are selling. They need adequate training on the products and services to have the knowledge and ability when dealing with new customers.

Customer expect the sales person to know their product and stand behind their product, which is why corporate sales training is such a huge advantage to these companies. The teams learn how to use their knowledge to entice customers and get them through the door, again improving the sales revenue.

Then it comes down to learning how to close a deal. Closing isn’t a natural thing to many people and can take time to master. Each team member will have their own selling style and closing style.

Learning how to close to do a win-win situation is essential to improving the revenue of the business and ensure profit margins.

The closing is when the deal is finally agreed upon, whether this is a company agreeing to use your services or making a big buy. Many companies use discounts and offers to entice their customers, but it’s still up to the team to make sure that the customer comes over to their business and uses their services.

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Is your sales training creating a long-lasting impact? If you’re not using the right approach, the odds are overwhelmingly against you. According to one study, 85 to 90 percent of sales training results in no more than a 120-day dealing in productivity.

Here’s a three-step set up plan for better sales training leads in 2014.Sales Training Solutions

1:– Don’t Just Teach Them What to Do

Sales people are driven mostly by emotion, feeling, not logic. In fact, on average, 85 percent of their drive comes from feelings, attitudes and emotions. Only 15 percent comes from logic, knowledge and discipline.

Teaching sales people product knowledge, sales skills, processes and alternative activities is important, but it’s not what causes them to sell well. If your sales training is primarily targeted on teaching them what to do, it’s missing the lion’s share of what really matters—the real reasons why salespeople succeed or fail in their job.

2:– Go Below the Surface

If the power or ability to sell isn’t a problem of just learning sales skills (and it’s not), then what has to happen to get your people selling more?

We’ve found that the power to sell is largely due to an internal congruence of the subsequent key factors:

  • View of Selling
  • View of Abilities
  •  Values
  • Commitment to Activities
  • Belief in Product

To get results that last, your training needs to drill deeper than the surface skills and appearance at those internal emotional factors that control eighty-five percent of their selling ability.

increase sales in 2014

increase sales in 2014

3:– Make Congruence Your Prime Priority

Our research analysis and experience has shown time and again that until these 5 dimensions of selling are brought into congruence, salespeople will never live up to their full potential, and all the product knowledge and selling techniques in the world won’t make the difference.

Conflicts or low levels of sales result where gaps occur between the sizes, dimensions. The wider the gap, the more the person experiences internal stress, and it becomes tougher to achieve success. Conflicts or stress cause mental and emotional blocks, which inhibit sales success and increase the probability of failure.

What is the good news? As conflicts are reduced, personal confidence, activities, job satisfaction and sales all increase.

Bringing dimensions into congruence is a behavioral issue, not an intellectual learning process. The dimensions only come together when positive actions, attitudes and values are practiced in everyday selling activities and reinforced as part of an ongoing strategy of individual growth and development.

As these dimensions come into congruence, salespeople want to do results-producing activities. They develop an internal zest and confidence, and a deep feeling that what they’re doing is true and sensible.

And they are unconsciously freed-up to sell on higher levels.

Follow these 3 steps and resolve to get more than a temporary fix from your sales training investments in 2014!

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