Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Training Your Staff 13 Things Every Employee Should Learn

Writen by Tom Richard

People buy from people; not from systems, pretty brochures or crafty verbiage.

So if you want to boost sales, you need to make sure you have the right people selling for you! Your sales staff needs to be well trained to successfully represent your product and your company.

Training your team DOESN'T mean restricting them to a rigid sales process or trying to assimilate them into the company! There's no need to memorize silly systems and philosophies that you think will generate sales. Dry systems like that only produce unhappy, unmotivated employees and a high turnover rate (which leads to unsatisfied customers and fewer sales)

Your employees' motivations and methods are as unique as your customer's reasons for buying. When used in harmony with your company's core values, their uniqueness can create a sales approach that will keep everyone happy!

Forcing your staff to use a clear-cut system to lure in customers only stifles all the natural talent that your employees could bring to the table: natural talent that could improve your company and boost sales!

A Fresh Approach

Instead of trying to duplicate your top salesperson, teach your staff the elements of a successful sale and encourage them to be unique in the way that they use them. Extraordinary sales results come from having a staff that is united through the company's core values, yet still has diversity and the freedom to use their individual talents.

If you want your staff to be motivated and successful, don't waste your time trying to change them. Instead, teach them these 13 things and encourage them to mix their individual flair into these teachings to come up with the best approach for them.

EVERY salesperson should learn:

1. Exactly what they are selling

This one seems obvious since most companies do a fine job when it comes to training product knowledge. However, if you want your company and your staff to stand out, you need to take it one step further. What exactly makes your product unique in the marketplace? What, specifically, makes it valuable in the eyes of your customer? The unique features of your product are what make it stand out among others, creating the demand that will help you get sales!

2. The importance of EVERY customer

The size of the customer account does NOT determine the importance of that customer. EVERY customer is important. Don't let your staff underestimate a customer and the potential that customer has to help your business succeed (or fail). Big customers talk to small customers. What do you want your small customers to tell them?

3. How to prepare for a sale

The first step in making a sale is preparing for the sale. Taking the time to research the customer and their needs will help initiate conversation that is important to the customer. If a salesperson can't speak intelligently with a customer, that person won't want to waste time listening to them.

4. What comes first: value

It's one of the greatest lessons a salesperson can learn: always provide value first. This gives your customer a reason for listening to what you have to say next. It makes your customer want to listen and want to know more, changing the setting from a "selling environment" to a "buying environment".

5. How to ask a good question

Every salesperson should know how to facilitate conversation with their customers. Asking questions is a great way to guide the conversation in the direction you would like it to go, while still focusing on the customer and their needs. A great question engages the customer and helps you personalize your approach to fit their individual needs.

6. How to listen

After you've asked the customer a good question, stop talking! LISTEN to the answer. Listening helps salespeople learn about their customers, which makes it easier to help them. Teach your staff how to listen, what to listen for and why it is important.

7. The power of networking

Networking is by far the most effective and efficient way to develop a strong customer base, regardless of what industry you're in. It's important that your salespeople know and practice the skills that are required to successfully network.

8. How to give a great presentation

How much hands-on training have your people had with delivering effective presentations? A great presentation is not only informative, but exciting for the customer. It may be the last or only opportunity you have to leave an impression on your customer – make it a good one!

9. How to think outside the box

Life isn't linear, and sales aren't either. Teach, encourage, and applaud creative approaches to even common problems. Being able to think on their feet will help them adapt to the ever-changing demands of the customer and their unique approaches will separate them from the competition.

10. How to manage their time

With effective time management, your sales staff will learn to prioritize their responsibilities and get the important things done first. It will maximize their time and keep them organized and efficient. It will also keep them healthier and happier, which will keep your customers feeling relaxed as well.

11. The right way to be persistent

There are pushy salespeople and there are pleasantly persistent salespeople. Guess which ones get the sales? Train your people to stay on course and follow-up with prospects and customers. They may be closer to the sale than they think. Staying pleasantly persistent is the only way to maintain a good and constant relationship with the customer, who may be close to saying yes!

12. Self-confidence

Without self-confidence, all other training is wasted. Teaching your staff to be confident will encourage them to recognize and develop their skills. Confidence helps people speak with authority and pride in who they are and what product they have chosen to represent. Teach your employees that they are the greatest salespeople in the world, representing the greatest product in the world and working for the greatest company in the world. When they believe it, so will your customers.

13. Customer success stories

All great salespeople have great stories about how their product and their company perform for their customers. These stories are like evidence; they show you and your future customers what you are capable of doing for them. Make it a part of your initial and ongoing training to share these stories among your sales staff. The most powerful lesson is shown through example.

Everybody Wins

Too often we are so focused on getting the desired results that we forget the people we need to get us there. Don't lose sight of the big picture and neglect to take the opportunity to set up a training program that actually works.

The next time you feel the natural urge to set up a new system of control for your salespeople, realize that you may just be boxing your people in. Emphasize the importance of company values and principles to keep everyone focused on the common goal, but encourage everyone to be unique in their approach. With this system, everybody wins.

Tom Richard conducts seminars on sales and customer service topics nationwide. Tom is also the author of Smart Salespeople Don't Advertise: 10 Ways to Outsmart Your Competition With Guerilla Marketing, and publishes a free weekly ezine on selling skills titled Sales Muscle. To subscribe to this free weekly ezine go to http://www.tomrichard.com/subscribe

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