Sales & Product training in 2021: Growth will be fueled by new sales, so nourish your sales teams
Your best sales people will have great knowledge of the business, the wider market and your most important customers. However, they are trained to be single minded in their pursuit of set targets, which can make them vulnerable to large-scale sudden disruption. It is not just pandemics that cause this, but global trade deals and digital technology.
It has been a combination of these forces that has, over the longer term, moved sales away from a ‘transactional service’. Instead becoming more consultative, with sales personnel creating a custom solution. Great customer relationships are essential for this more collaborative approach, particularly whilst everyone is remote working.
ENGAGING your SALES TEAM
Sales people will likely already be good at building these professional relationships. After all they are normally quite self-assured, with a positive outlook and socially gregarious. They are not prone to doubt themselves or spend too much time in self-reflection.
However, when engaging a Sales team with new learning materials. We are often asking them to reflect on their past performance, to help them think about how to take on new challenges and consider doing things differently.
A good example today is the move to virtual selling. Take a moment to remember that the act of selling is helping the buyer identify some form or intervention that will help create a new and better future for the business. Building confidence in a ‘future’ comes with challenges in the best of times, and requires the sales person to build a rapport and trust with the client.
Doing this with no physical access in a period of huge market disruption is hard and can lead to bad behaviours. For example, research suggests that a common problem with virtual selling is people relying too heavily on formal presentations that don’t allow enough time for inquiry and feedback. Sales teams might struggle to hear this message, but the good news is that the case for leveraging digital channels for this learning challenge is very strong.
5 BENEFITS FROM SALES AND PRODUCT TRAINING
- Convenience: You can reach a globally distributed team quickly, at their point of need to take the training immediately
- Easily updated: If the product changes you can change the information once and it’s instantly updated
- Flexibility: You can build in flexibility to allow learners to take different paths according to their specific sectors, clients, levels of responsibility or their identified needs
- Quality control: You can deliver a consistent message to everyone not reliant on individual instructor interpretation
- Risk free and self-directed practise: Learning scenarios that can be adapted to individual needs. Practise sessions before exposure to the client, or other members of the sales team that could intimidate. Content that can be accessed on the road, to brush up on skills just before a meeting.
By the way, when we describe ‘digital channels’ we are referencing both self-directed learning and instructor led training. For the latter, there are a myriad of digital techniques that can help augment the instructor led experience to deliver many of these benefits as listed above.
SUPPORTING YOUR SALES TEAM TO THRIVE
To help set these benefits in the context of a real sales environment consider the following learning framework EATS with your sales and product training. It guides the learner through a journey using different touch points to support them with the product knowledge and skills they need to thrive during change.
- Excite: Utilise storytelling techniques to engage the learner emotionally, explaining the journey they are being taken on and their individual benefit
- Assess: Gateway sections to test people’s competency levels, with strong results rewarded by offering shorter versions of the course. Asking people to self-reflect on their soft skills can prove easier in the anonymous setting of a digital course. Capturing individuals needs and areas for development can then be reflected in a customised version of the course.
- Train: Deliver accurate and timely product information. Interactive exercises can allow leaners to practise scenarios in a risk-free environment.
- Sustain: Learning content that will be revisited because it’s useful at the point of need. Short form micro-content that can easily be accessed on the move just before a meeting. Make the content a utility that is habitually referenced, embedding it into the rhythm of the working day.
UPCOMING SALES AND PRODUCT TRAINING WEBINARS AND CONVERSATIONS
If this has proven useful and raised questions around sales and product training that you would like to explore further, then you are welcome to join Fenturi’s webinar on this topic. On the session our consultants will be using the EATS framework to outline our best practise and share examples of our digital learning content at each stage.
Fenturi believes that this combination of great product knowledge with softer sales skills training is essential in supporting busy sales people through periods of huge disruption. This approach can also be used to support employee engagement for those returning from furlough, who will have had little interaction preparing them for the return to work. Find out more information about registering and our webinar series here.