Sales leaders unanimously agree that selling has changed drastically in the last two decades. Technology, information availability, and the Internet have changed buyer’s expectations from sellers. In a recent study, the seller’s ability to “educate buyers with new ideas and perspectives, and collaboration” was the top trait that created the required advantage for the deal winners.
Selling nowadays is about talking business advantage to the buyer; plain vanilla features and benefits no longer win deals – competition has similar or is about to catch up soon. To stand out, Sellers need to bring in deep business focus to influence the buyer’s point of view and assure them of success in a “new reality”. Winning solutions are often customized and innovative offerings. To co-create solutions with buyers, sellers need skills that balance between advocacy (expertise) and inquiry.
While sales leaders recognize this shift in selling skills required to influence buyer’s agenda, only a few have implemented programs to train or re-train and coach their sales teams on this new paradigm. When we asked, the common reasons quoted are often based on unfounded and myopic views:
“I’m busy chasing targets and deadlines, can’t really spare my team for training”. Similar to going to battle without sharpening your axe. There is no one busy in this world, it’s always about priorities. You will always find time for the things you feel are important.
“They would use this training to look for jobs in another company”. People with this view should take some inspiration from the words of Henry Ford – The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is NOT training them and having them stay.
“Great salespeople are born with selling skills. Training fails to improve success”. This is often a good coverup for situations where:
• Sales leaders are not sure of what measurable improvements they seek from the training itself, or identify the weaknesses of their process
• Canned training, not aligned to the context of the organization and its target buyers is categorically rejected by salespeople
• Perception of a longer-term payoff, while training that sticks is the one that can be applied immediately
“GenY/Z sellers are not open to learning”: Traditional training methods are not for millennials. They expect learning to be:
• Short and flexible (byte-sized shots, modular)
• Just-in-time and contextual
• Challenging the normal and is Gamified
Learning new skills is a lifelong endeavour, and done right it can transform results. A research report on top-performing sales organizations concludes that the investment in seller development has a significant and material effect on their capabilities and results. There are marked correlations between effective sales training programs and seller motivation. When sellers are confident of their skills and feel like the organization is investing in them, attitude and energy are maximized.