Sloppy Sales Training Can Cost You BIG Money
I’m a professional business growth coach and sales trainer. Companies hire me to help them train their employees to be effective at getting clients and building their business. Occasionally a client will ask me what kind of value they can expect to receive from my training. I usually answer with very specific results that they can look for and some possible gains that they can expect because getting a return on their investment is important. During a recent shopping trip it was reconfirmed to me how our training provides the extra value that makes a significant difference.
I was out shopping for parts for my son’s car at a local auto parts store and as I was looking through the shelves I suddenly realize that I was overwhelmed with all the choices in front of me. Going to the front counter to ask for help, I encountered a customer service person who asked me how they could help. I told him my dilemma, explained what I was trying to do, and asked if he would help me pick out the parts and supplies that I needed. The employee helping me was attempting to do a great job, but in the middle of our conversation he suggested that I go to a specialty shop that would get me the things I needed instead of the product here. I was confused. Everything I needed was in this store. Yet, this employee was referring me to another business. It even confused me more when he gave me a little wink as he told me to go there. I walked out stunned over what had just happened.
That’s when it hit me. It was one of those moments that stuck in my mind. I guess he thought he was giving me the best solution for what I was planning to do. Unfortunately, the message he sent me was that this store does not have quality products and that I should go elsewhere, which was not the truth and his recommendation wasn’t in the best interest of the company that he was working for.
Are your employees truly representing the value and quality of your products and services or are they pushing business to your competitors? It happens more than you may think and unfortunately, you may not know until it’s too late. Just like this company that I visited that day, most companies don’t really know what’s happening when they are not there until it’s too late.
Typical training programs only teach the technical fundamentals that focus on getting a sale. They don’t provide any kind of overview that will help an employee understand exactly what they’re trying to accomplish or why it’s so important to the company. This oversight can lead to the sales staff doing exactly what I experienced that day…referring a customer to the competition.
What to Include to get the most of your Sales Training Dollars!
- Value to Cost Positioning – It’s important to know that you will not be able to service every request from every client. It’s impossible for a small business to be everything to everyone. You will need to focus on and promote the services that you can provide and make profit from. Doing so establishes a value proposition that a client can enjoy. What you will want to teach your employees is where you fit in regarding the overall market for your product. Are you a high end service or product at a reasonable price? Are you a reasonable product for most needs at a fair market price? Understanding where you fit into the marketplace opens the door for a conversation on what to do with the prospects that you won’t be able to service well.
- How to ask the Right Sales Discovery Questions – Questions are the best sales tool, if they are used correctly. Teach your team what they should be asking to get the right information so they can make an intelligent recommendation. Far too often customer service and sales people will just give the customer what they ask for rather than asking what they are trying to accomplish. When they do get the right information frequently there will be an opportunity to fill other needs or upsell other complimentary services. That means you will make more sales with the same effort!
- Review of Effective Sales Language and Wording – Yes, wording does make a difference to your bottom line! Think of the words ‘expense and investment’. When you think of these words you will notice that even though they are similar, they cause you to feel differently. When would you use one or the other? It’s important to train both customer service and sales people to know the power of words and when to use them. We’ve spent years researching the effect words have on sales conversion and how the human mind responds to wording. I can tell you that it makes a significant difference in getting clients to start working with you.
- How to Refer to a Strategic Alliance Partner – Since we are not able to help everyone with all inquiries, have policies set in place on what to do when those situation arise. Make sure that you have set up partnerships with other companies that you can refer clients to as well as receive back from them. Relationships like this compliment both your company and theirs. Your customer service and sales staff should know about the relationships and only refer a customer to those companies/services that have been approved. Why? Well, your company reputation is reflected in who you refer, so the last thing you want to happen is for your reputation in your community to be soiled because of a bad referral. No small business owner wants that!
- How to do an Effective Sales Hand off – A sales hand off is the moment when one of your team members passes on a good potential client to another. These sales techniques can be a great time to add value to a customer relationship but sadly, they usually result in a loss when the prospect is dropped. Effective sales handoffs edify the new team member and are seamless. Watch for someone who answers the phone and forwards a new client to a voice mail. This seems to be one of the biggest ways this happens. All new prospect inquiries need to be handled directly and seamlessly.
Sales training can be a great asset to your company if done correctly. Make sure your training includes the extras that will really add value and prevent clients being unnecessarily referred to the competition.