Last time we looked at the average cost of making the sale and also the general lack of sales skills training within most businesses.

This time we will examine the importance of developing the sales skills within our salespeople and how that translates into profits.

During the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Czar prepared his troops for battle in the following manner.

The first wave of charging infantrymen were given rifles, the second wave were provided with clubs, but the third wave was given nothing but good wishes. They were supposed to pick up the weapons from their fallen comrades and then continue the attack.

If you were recruited into that army, which wave would you chose?

That’s exactly how new salespeople feel when they are sent into the field without adequate tools to do their jobs. This is no way to break in a new salesperson; it’s a sure way to increase staff turnover.

Sales training is the foundation upon which product training should rest. Many companies assume their salespeople and the salespeople they hire already have a solid foundation in sales skills and systems. Salespeople who don’t perform are simply written off as part of the 80% in the old 80/20 rule of selling: 80% of the sales force produces only 20% of the company’s sales. Or, put another way, 80% of the company’s sales are produced by only 20% of the sales force.

Denying the training and support systems, which every jittery newcomer needs to get started in selling, is a short-sighted and counterproductive view of the sales team-building process. New sales reps are entitled to all of the help and tangible support that a business can provide.

Success in selling is inversely related to a salesperson’s FUD factor – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – which they experience every day in the firing line. Because selling will always be a problem if it is not learned as a procedure, it is mandatory that selling skills – as well as product knowledge – be emphasized in your training programmes. Without adequate preparation, new salespeople will surely fail in the field – just as the ill-equipped and poorly trained Russian soldiers did.

Many salespeople I’ve trained over the years have been very successful in selling before they undertook the training however what I often hear from these people is the comment
“I didn’t know what I didn’t know” as we introduce them to a structured sales process.

Without a structured selling process many sales are lost that could have been converted with the right preparation, asking the right questions and then following up.

They say more sales are lost through poor questioning than are ever lost on price.

What this all means to businesses is that the cost of making sales goes up as these opportunities are missed.

A national client I was working with achieved over 40% improvement in sales through following a structured sales process.

For every business I have worked with over the years there is a recipe of the right questions to ask a prospect to uncover firstly if they have a need – No Need = No Sale, and secondly how urgent that need is. Yet most salespeople have a few standard questions they ask and then launch into their sales pitch – generally before the prospect has fully understood their own needs – this then leads to “leave it with me I need to think this over”.

With the right questions and processes the prospect should be able to make a decision based on the information presented.

We will look at team development and the correlation to sales staff retention next time.

Quote of the Week:

Every sale has five basic obstacles
No Need, No Money, No Hurry, No Desire, No Trust

Zig Ziglar

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.