Sales Questions for Discovery 

Sales questions for discovery, in prospecting, uncovering needs, building rapport and qualifying, are critical in the sales process

Original Article Source: Sales Questions for Discovery – The Digital Sales Institute

The goal of sales questions for discovery purposes is for salespeople to have valuable conversations with various customer profiles and adapt the company’s value proposition to the unique situation of each buyer. Great conversations should happen on purpose, not by accident. But to have conversations that win, the sales questions, messages, storytelling, marketing content, and sales skills need to work together.

“In B2B selling only 3% of your market is actively buying at any given time, 57% are not ready and 40% are poised to begin.” – Aberdeen Group

The above percentages support the logic that sales questions must build a bridge to connect with buyers on a personal level, understand what’s important to them, get insight into their thinking, and create better options for them. The importance of asking the right sales questions is vital if a salesperson is to engage in really meaningful sales conversations with prospects or customers.

Sales Questions for Discovery – Attention and Signal vs. Noise

Today, buyer attention is in short supply, they are lost in a sea of more information, advertising, and messages like never before. Sales questions and conversations should be crafted to get attention, be strong signals above the noise. Sales questions that resonate with a prospect’s plans and desires. Mind share and being “top of mind” have never been more prized than they are now. Intelligent sales questions that give a buyer food for thought is a major plank in getting mind share time. So, keep your sales questions relevant and your sales conversations noteworthy.

For sales questions to get above the noise, the starting point is to understanding your customer’s needs, try to imagine the world from your customers’ point of view. Who are they, and what motivates them? What’s their day like? What are their challenges or goals? Is the relationship between seller and buyer more partnership based, purely business or transaction based?

Sales Question to Ask to fill the GAP

Sales questions for discovery must fill the GAP and address what the buyer or decision makers in the company want to accomplish. Sales questions that uncovers the GAP between where they are now and where they want to be? And the GAP in the sales process is nearly always determined by the responsibilities and stance of the decision maker.

GAP sales questions for discovery should be constructed to answer insights such as;

How is the decision maker rewarded, and for what?

What is it that the decision maker has to do to earn the respect and support of his or her superiors and peers?

On what basis, and for what results, does he or she get recognized for?

It can be too easy to forget that one of the deepest subconscious needs of all people is the need for self-esteem, feeling valuable, important and worthwhile. If the series of sales questions can find out what a person needs to do to increase their self-esteem and their perceived value in their organization, and then show them that by using your product or service, they can earn the approval and appreciation of the people around them and above them, they will often be highly motivated to buy what you are selling.

“When engaging with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”

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sales questions for discovery success

Ten things you need to know about your customers

  1. Who they are.
    How long have they been in their role, outside work interests, shared connections, social background, previous roles etc.?
  2. What they do
    Understanding of what their business is trying to achieve, responsibilities, goals, how they are measured?
  3. Why they buy
    Reactionary, planned, early adopters, triggers etc? This helps to match their needs to the benefits your business can offer.
  4. When they buy
    Needs driven? budget driven? solution driven? Seasonal driven? Uncovering buying trends can increase the opportunity to enter into deeper sales negotiation conversations.
  5. How they buy and select vendors
    What is the internal process? Who is on the buying committee? Any criteria a vendor is expected to pass? Terms?
  6. Do they have budgets or how much money they have
    Being able to afford the offering means a buyer can commit to the sales process, avoid chasing dead-ends by discovering does the contact have authority over budgets.
  7. What makes them feel good about buying solutions
    B2B buyers are emotional creatures as well. If you know what makes them tick, you can serve them in the way they prefer.
  8. What they expect of you as a salesperson and partner
    For example, if your customers expect 24/7 support and you don’t disappoint them, you stand to gain repeat business.
  9. What they think about you
    Your personal brand is important. If your customers trust your insights, views you as bringing value and enjoys dealing with you, they’re likely to engage with you more. And you can only tackle problems that customers have if you know what they are.
  10. What they think about your competitors
    If you know how your customers view your competition, you stand a much better chance of staying ahead of your rivals.

Sales Question for Discovery Success

As stated above, in order to get a sale and a customer, you must first understand what your customers want and need and what the differences are between the two. So here is a list of 30 sales questions for discovery and qualification.

What are your short-term goals? Long-term goals?

What does this solution mean to you? What does it mean to your company?

What is your expected outcome from selecting this solution?

What is your boss hoping to accomplish in the next year?

How do your team objectives play into your department’s strategy?

What do you perceive as your greatest strength? Weakness?

How does your company evaluate the potential of new products or services?

Who has your business now? Why did you choose that vendor?

What are your buying criteria and success criteria?

Where would you put the emphasis regarding price, quality, and service?

What level of service are you looking for?

What do you like best about your present supplier? What don’t you like?

What do you look for in the companies you do business with?

What might cause you to change suppliers?

What do you like best about your current system? What would you like to see changed?

What do you perceive your needs to be? How important are they?

If you were me, how would you proceed?

Where do you go to inform yourself of developments?

What factors would influence your decision to consider changing?

What will it take for us to do business?

How soon can we begin?

What is my best shot for getting back the account?

What did we do in the last sale that impressed you most?

What do you look for in your relationship with a supplier?

Who was the best salesperson who ever called on you?

If you could change one thing about your organization, what would it be?

Do you struggle with [common pain point]?

What deadlines are you currently up against?

Which resource could you use more of?

Would you rather cut costs, save money, or increase productivity?

Sales Questions Have A Place in Every Part of The Sales Process

The use of sales questions for discovery and uncovering of opportunities is a major skill every salesperson should master via sales training. However, it takes research, planning, trial and error to gather a list of questions that work for your industry. In your sales skills arsenal, more intelligent and well thought out sales questions will deliver better results across the whole sales process.

Benefits of Online Sales Training

Benefits of online sales training are becoming more apparent as organizations and salespeople look for a more modern approach to up-skilling

Republished from  Benefits of Online Sales Training – The Digital Sales Institute

These include automating the sales training process, minimizing time away from job, controlling disruption and in reducing sales training costs. In a rapidly changing sales world, the investment in sales training is vital to improving the sales team’s knowledge, productivity and overall sales skills. The ROI of all sales training is about measuring increased sales in the longer term plus ensuring a happier more motivation team of salespeople which reduces employee.

While classroom-based sales training still has its place, the cost, logistics involved and impact on productivity has many companies challenging its relevancy. In no small part to technology advancement, video solutions, streaming capabilities and course ware development the benefits of online sales training are compelling.

Tapping into a world of web-based sales training experts and online sales training material means rolling out an online based sales training program has never been easier. With the help of an online sales training provider, a cost-effective sales training program will be up and running in no time.

One of the major benefits of online sales training is that the sales programs are focused on topics the learner has selected. Removed from dominating opinions and time pressure allows the learner to concentrate fully on course content being offered via the online sales training program. Another one of the benefits of online sales training for a salesperson is that there are no distractions or deviating off topic. In fact, many leading sales transformation experts believe that online sales training provides a more purer learning environment.

Ask any salesperson or manager and they will tell you that selling is a lot more complicated in today’s attention poor yet busy world. Now there is on average 5 stakeholders involved in most buying decisions and that goes for less complicated or inbound sales as well. The reality is most salespeople are or need to sell to five people which makes their role even harder.

One can understand why switched on companies mandate sales training so their salespeople will improve their ability to sell more effectively to a whole host of stakeholders. They are alert to the fact that continual sales training is required to sharpen sales skills, keep abreast of the latest thinking, develop better buyer engagement skills and close more deals. However, continual sales training does not have to eat into their productive sales time or become cost prohibitive. Which is why online sales training has become vital. The very nature of this self-paced learning means the salesperson can undertake any sales training at a time, pace and place that suits them.

Benefits of Online Sales Training

Useful and ease of use.

Every sales training program has to be useful, but is it?  Useful sales training is defined as the degree to which a salesperson believes that attending a particular course will enhance their job performance. In essence, useful sales training can be seen as providing content that is beneficial to the sales team’s daily activity load. If any course content doesn’t appear relevant to the sales teams, it stands to reason they will not meaningfully engage with it. But keeping in-house sales training materials fresh, Up to date, relevant and useful can be expensive or laborious. This is why salespeople constantly rate online sales training higher than in-house, they find it more useful as its fresher.  Plus, from a business point of view, its more cost effective. Double win.

When we discuss “ease of use” it is more about the presentation format of the sales training rather than the content itself. Any tool deployed to improve sales skills should be easy for learners to interact with while enhancing their learning experience. Because online sales training is available 24/7, self-paced and digital in nature it is relatively low on effort to access meaning salespeople are more willing to use it. For a company, this lower the barriers to getting salespeople to take ownership of their own skills improvement.

Realizing the Benefits of Online Sales Training

Your salespeople may be your competitive advantage when it comes to explaining to a buyer the unique advantages of your product. Increased and crowded competition will demand strong sales strategies that deliver results. So, the importance of continued sales training to lock in the sales team’s ability to play their part in any growth strategy can’t be ignored. The benefits of online sales training can help your salespeople sell better to both existing and new customers, empower them to take ownership for their upskilling, to meet and beat quotas plus help the business outperform the competition.

Overall Sales effectiveness Improves

One of the many benefits of online sales training is that salespeople become better engaged with modern sales tactics, knowledge and tools to improve their close rates. Overall sales KPI’s also improve as they can better prospect, develop and maximize any sales leads provided to them.

Retention of Salespeople Goes Up

Numerous research articles now show that salespeople value sales training and when access to ongoing sales training programs are in place, they are less likely to leave an organization. This boosts retention of both salespeople and valuable knowledge which in turn lowers turnover.

Sales Productivity Increases

Knowing what to do and when to do it has always been vital in sales. More benefits of online sales training are that access to constantly updated content means salespeople become better skilled and more creative at problem-solving to buyers’ challenges. Any salesperson who has achieved a higher level of sales mastery will find it easier to match their product and their customer needs in a mutually beneficial way. They will also be better able to sort where they need to prioritize their sales activity.

Salespeople Take Ownership

One of the top benefits of online sales training is that salespeople assume ownership for their own skill improvement. Combined with mandated sales training, online sales training compliments and reinforces their learning path to becoming a more accomplished salesperson.

Cultivates a Winning Sales Environment

As online sales training can be accessed by anyone and everyone wishing to improve their knowledge of the sales process, e.g., customer support, pre-sales, marketing etc., this will have the effect of a more sales-focused environment and a deeper understanding of customers. Which can lead to more connected teams and a shared drive to grow revenue.

Time Convenient

Revenue and productivity goals can mean it is hard for salespeople to set aside the time for sales skills improvement. They value it, want it and need it but they may not have the hours to spend sitting in a room listening to presentations. Plus, the impact of sales training can be diluted as salespeople are conscious of time away from desk. The benefits of online sales training “training at your convenience” goes a long way to solving this dilemma.

Online Sales Training is the Future

Modern sales organizations realize that the same old approach to sales training programs just are not delivering the results for the cost involved. Yes, the traditional instructor-led sales training programs deliver great content, but does it lead to lasting results? The main reason for this is sales training needs to be a continuous learning journey where salespeople can refresh and update themselves as needed.  The benefits of online sales training programs are that it is easy for any salesperson to spend 15 to 30 minutes learning new sales skills themselves.

The Power of Minds Accessible 24/7

With the latest from the minds of leading sales trainers on proven sales techniques, salespeople get 24/7 access to libraries of time saving sales training content and videos that focus on all aspects of the sales process – one lesson at a time.

The benefits of online sales training are becoming increasing compelling to companies and individual salespeople who want to learn more about the profession of sales but due to time, costs or resources find that the traditional methods of sales training have limits.  It may not be the total solution for everyone, but it is one worth considering.

Online Sales Training Platform 

online-sales-training

The use of an online sales training platform in combination with in-house sales training programs is a powerful method for salespeople to learn new selling skills.

Republished from Source: Online Sales Training Platform – The Digital Sales Institute

Due to advances in video, technology and bandwidth, giving access to salespeople to improve their sales skills with online sales training is not the big decision it once was. Typically, an online sales training platform will have a number of sales training programs that covers a multitude of topics from sales prospecting, cold calling, business development, digital selling, presentation skills etc, so a sales training program could be implemented relatively quickly.

Let us look at some of the reasons why sales training is moving away from live classroom or on-site classes. Apart from the fact that online sales training courses eliminates the need for salespeople to gather in one place, the modern, young, social media engaged salesperson prefers video and bite sized chunks of training.

Benefits Of Sales Training

The purpose of continuous sales training is so the business can educate their sales staff on how to improve their ability to sell more effectively. The output of any sales team training program should result in salespeople sharpening their sales skills, developing communication skills for better customer engagement and improve the rate at which deals get closed.

To reduce costs and speed up the delivery of sales training, a business does not have to invest in developing their own custom sales training program. While the online sales training platform can help the sales team to reach their full selling potential with courses on all the core sales skills training, the business can focus on rolling out product and company specific training.

The end result of combining internal and external sales training is a sales teams armed with the knowledge to understand the products value proposition and the sales skills to communicate this to customers so they motivated to buy.

Online Sales Training Platform Can Improve:

Communication: Every salesperson must be able to communicate the companies “why us” when talking to a client or prospect.

Conversations: Salespeople can open up sales conversations with the use of great discovery questions and business acumen

Commitments: The salesperson understands how to gain commitments from the customer or prospect to progress the relationship or sale.

Active Listening: The ability of a salesperson to know when to talk and when to listen. Active listening skills to really uncover challenges, problems and solutions.

Research and Preparation: Customers and prospects are now more selective on whom they talk to, salespeople need to be able to answer “why are you contacting me”. This obstacle is overcome by research and preparation using social media, news, insights and data. Salespeople need to be able to convey why the client should listen to them using information and market intelligence.

The Role Of Sales Enablement In Sales Training

When we talk about sales training, we are referring to the specific process of education on selling skills, while sales enablement usually encompasses the entire training journey from beginning to end. The sales enablement plan would include such areas as salesperson on boarding, ongoing product, company and sales training. It would also include a framework or sales playbook to get the salespeople from the point of a first contact, steps in pre-sales prospect engagement and sales process communication guides. Better sales begin with sales training. But bigger, better and more consistent sales only happen as part of a continuous sales training strategy.

The Importance Of Continuous Sales Training To A Company

The shift in the buyer’s journey, the influence of social media and increased competition requires sales strategies that work. So, the importance of ongoing sales training as a driver of growth can’t be ignored. Access to sales materials, videos and content within a sales training program is a proven way support salespeople, enable them to exceed quotas, and outperform the competition.

Sales effectiveness improves

One of the key benefits of sales training is that salespeople become equipped with the necessary tools and skills to increase the win rate they achieve relative to the amount of leads generated.

Sales staff turnover decreases

Where an investment has been made to properly train salespeople, they are less likely to leave the business. This improves knowledge retention, grows the experience bank, lowers turnover which also lowers all associated recruitment or on boarding costs.

Sales productivity increases

Another valuable benefit of continuous sales training is that all the salespeople will become better equipped and more adept at winning over customers. Any sales team that has achieved a good level of mastery of the sales process can align the product and the customer needs in a mutually beneficial way.

Cultivates a winning sales mindset

Sales training helps to create a winning mindset, it teaches salespeople to be comfortable with the uncomfortable (such as cold calling), how to overcome rejection and how to build a winning sales habit loop, leading to a more sales-focused mindset to bring in more revenue.

How do Online Platforms Benefit Sales Training?

An online sales training platform is a benefit due to the evolution of video, bandwidth and learning technology. The use of an online sales training platform can enable a modernized approach to training that matches the expectations of today’s sales force. A platform that boosts and empowers salespeople to learn new skills, establish themselves as subject-matter expert and to lower the overall cost of sales training.

Here’s A Few Tips On How To Use An Online Sales Training Platform:

  • Use short, bite-sized easy to digest learning content in a variety of formats that’s related directly to identified sales skills (prospecting, etc.)
  • Combine on the job training linked to the online training courses being completed
  • Set clear timescales and objectives that need to be met
  • Ensure there is a management feedback process to discuss learning
  • Select some “champions,” as subject-matter experts to help other salespeople with their training
  • Outline expected course completion and the metrics to measure participation
  • Measure sales performance after completion of a full sales training program (not modules)
online-sales-training-courses

Online sales training courses

Ways Online Sales Training Platform Improves Sales Skills

Flexible learning times: An online sales training platform provides the tools for salespeople to access the latest content and modules on the selling skills they need to succeed plus do it at their own pace (in their own time). While it’s important that the company establishes deadlines for completion, giving the salesperson the option to complete their training at their own pace is an effective way to improve sales knowledge retention (because they’re taking ownership for their own self-education), thus boosting productivity. Importantly, the salespeople do not have to travel to training sessions or miss selling time.

Consistently repeatable: Unlike traditional, in-class formal training, e-learning sales training courses can be repeated with the same consistent content to improve knowledge capture. It gives the salesperson a way to improve and assess knowledge retention with quizzes, and via questions in online forums. This provides an easy way to establish not only the effectiveness of their learning and the content that is being delivered, but also how the salespeople are interacting with that content and whether or not it’s giving them the knowledge they need to succeed. Also due to consistent flow of content and modules, it can be easy for a salesperson to get input from their colleagues on the course topics and the suggested tactics to improve their sales skills.

Always on easy access to training content: As the online sales training programs are available 24/7, salespeople learn faster, they have the comfort of accessing the training content after a sales call or in preparation to contact a customer. It can quickly reassure and reinforce the selling tactics without over exposing themselves to outside help. The entire sales force can have access to all the sales training course material at their fingertips, they can review tactics, insights and answers to most sales situations easily to help them close the sale.

Online training is easier to roll-out and cost effective: While every company has to invest in sales training, they also need to get the balance right between supporting all the salespeople without over investing in salespeople who are new or under performing. Using online sales training courses prior to selecting salespeople for the more expensive in-house training can improve results and weed out the ones who show little motivation to improve. Because most online training can be updated quickly to the latest methods, the sales force will have access to highly relevant, accurate content and messaging that can be effectively deployed across the entire sales organization.

It makes learning sales skills portable: Salespeople do not need to be tied to a desk, room or device. They can self-educate on selling skills at anytime, anywhere, on whatever device they choose. The millennial salesperson values the portability and freedom technology has allowed them to acquire new skills. As previously stated, this training delivery method puts the onus on them to continuously learn and upgrade their sales skills with no excuses on having to miss out on a training session. All the necessary resources and content are available to them whenever they need them.

In house sales training is not dead. Similar to everything related to selling and growing the customer base, sales training has to evolve for the modern sales environment. The use of an online sales training platform in combination with the traditional sales training delivery methods is a winning formula.

Sales Tips for 2019

Here are some sales tips to help you sell better in 2019. As a salesperson, you need to continuously improve your sales skills, habits and practices. In this fast-paced digital influenced sales world, there is always something new to learn. Our sales tips and articles at The Bitter Business have been created to salespeople with cutting-edge insights, habits, and techniques to increase sales impact. Using the six-step sales tips below, we are confident you can have more sales success, open more sales conversations, qualify prospects and close more deals in an effective manner.

  1. Focus on Trustworthiness. Build trust with your customers and prospects by using credibility, integrity, and reliability in your sales calls.
  2. Set Your OWN Sales Targets for This Year. Sit down and create real reasons and a list of motivations to really push you to achieve your own personal goals. P.S. Make them higher than any company goals.
  3. Become Skilled on How to Qualify a Lead. Knowing what a clients needs are PLUS understanding if a real sales opportunity exists will help you to connect a potential lead with your product or service. It also avoids wasting their or your own value sales time.
  4. You Want the Sale, But You Never Panic. Panic makes a salesperson to lose control of the sales process and focus on pricing. Work hard in your research, planning, preparation and onto building a bigger sales pipeline so you avoid ever being panicked for a sale.
  5. Learn the Talk V Listen Ratio on Sales Calls. Research has shown that high performing sales people listen 60% and talk 40% of the time on a sales call, especially in the earlier sales stages. Prepare great discovery questions to open up the customer to talking about their business needs. This will help you identify more sales opportunities, build better relationships with your prospects, demonstrates you care about their business and increases your chance of winning a sale.
  6. Pitch Your Value Proposition, NOT the Product or Price. Always provide solutions you know that fits your customers business needs and the VALUE it will deliver to them. Be confident in the value you will create and the fact that the price is FAR lower than your value proposition to the customer.

We hope you enjoyed this sales tips and please visit back for some more articles on sales training.

Sales Skills Definition

Note: Article republished from The Digital Sales Institute 

Creating a sales skills definition is unique to every business as they need to reflect the overall sales strategy alongside the expected sales activities of the salespeople.  Sales skills differ depending on inside V outside customer facing sales plus which part of the sales process a salesperson is involved with. Technology, social media, the internet and the digitally connected buyer has in effect driven the change in how we apply sales skills definition to a sales role.

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Sales Skills Definition

This will be personal to each business. However, an overarching sales skills definition is the specific set of sales skills (prospecting, cold calling, nurturing, engaging, presenting, negotiating, closing etc) and knowledge (product, markets, trends, business etc) a salesperson possess to enact the exchange of value between a buyer and the vendor.

Sales Skills Reflect the Business Environment

Sales skills will always reflect the prevailing environment and the buyer’s acceptance of how they interact with the purchasing process. Let me explain further, once upon a time door to door sales was a dominant channel in both B2B and B2C. So, the prevailing environment was to enact sales via “the travelling salesman”. If you were to ask John Henry Patterson (probably the father of sales) back in early parts of the 20th century for a sales skills definition he may have stated skills that reflected a door to salesperson.  Firm handshake, storyteller, manipulator, friendly, can convince, pushy, ability to take rejection and a persuader could be some of the skills he would mention.
My point here is that sales skills reflect the company’s sales strategy and business model. So, when it comes to creating a sales skills definition consideration must be given to how the business operates, potential customers preference for buying, ethos, channels and product complexity. The hiring profile and training of sales people should reflect the skills definition as laid out in a sales playbook or strategy.

Let’s compare the sales skills of a door to door salesperson with a modern sales professional when it comes to sales prospecting. For the door to door salesperson it would start with the knock on the door (not too aggressive), their opening lines, the handshake, the smile, their body language, how they were dressed, the opening pitch etc. For the modern sales professional doing sales prospecting what are the skills you would expect?

Future Sales Skills Definition

Some of the traditional skills still hold true, however skills such as ability to research, use of data, multi-channel activity, nurturing relationships and value exchange have replaced many of the interruption sales skills employed by the door to door salesman. This is being driven by social media, data, connectivity, educated buyers and technology that requires a transformation to how many companies sell. These changes will require sales skills that go way beyond the traditional selling tactics.

Skills that make buying easier. Research shows that the educated, savvy and connected buyers want the whole buying process to be easier more rewarding, informative and fulfilling.  Business needs to consider what sales skills salespeople are being trained on that reflects this new reality.

Buyers want to engage for longer term value that goes beyond the product. They want to do business with sellers who really understand the “what, why, and when” of their needs. Selling will become more collaborative and intelligent.

To bring this extra value to buyers, companies need to invest in sales training for salespeople so they can educate and nurture customers on needs they do not know they have. Yes, social media, social selling, inbound marketing and digital connectivity is making it easier to engage with customers more cost effectively. But do sales skills and sales techniques reflect the current environment is a good starting question.

sales-skills

Sales Skills Definition for Sales 3.0

Salespeople need to have empathy and ability to really understand a customer’s needs.

The skill to engage comfortable with a customer at their level and on their terms.

Ability to add value to the customer at every stage of the process, leaving aside self-interest.

Skilled at active listening along with asking discovery questions to uncover business challenges.

The salesperson can create a vision for the value that their product will bring to the customer.

Can build rapport, tell stories and sell their personality, because even in this digital world, people still buy people.

Business acumen, the salesperson has a genuine interest in how business works.

They are trained to know that sales negotiation is a process not an event, so they constantly use the 3Ps of selling – Prepare, Probe, and Propose.

Is credible and understands how to build credibility and add value to a customer’s life.

Has the sales skill to pinpoint, quantify and communicate clearly the value their proposed solution will bring to the customers business.

As stated in the outset of this article, a sales skills definition for the sales roles and salespeople will be personal and unique to every business. Just as sales has evolved from door to door in the analogue era to the digital salesperson of today, so too will the sales skills as our environments change with the times.

Sales Training Videos

sales-growth

These sales training videos can be used in classroom or as part on some online sales training course. The video content includes topics on “When to post on Social Media” “Social Selling on LinkedIn” “Rules for Sales Success” “Sales Process Steps” and “Key Sales Skills”. 

Sales training is mainly focused on helping salespeople to acquire the knowledge on the key aspects of the different sales techniques within the sales process, such as how to do modern lead generation, the role of sales prospecting, business development in the digital era, the sales 3.0 process, buyer profiling, understanding the buying committee alongside sales presentation skills etc. Sales training is always customized to the sales strategy and sales model formulated by the company.  

Sales Training Ideas

Here are some suggestions on other topics for a sales training course.

  1. How to educate a prospect with new perspectives: Coaching a salesperson to open up a prospect’s mind to new, unconsidered and different solutions that solves their challenges.
  2. Collaboration skills: To earn the trust of the modern buyer, salespeople need to take a more collaborative approach to selling. This is about making buying easier, to inform and educate while eliminating the buyer V the seller in the minds of the buyer.
  3. Communicating Value and ROI: The skill to tell stories that clearly communicate the return a customer can expect, and the end result they will achieve.
  4. Active Listening Skills: To put the customer first, to practice actively listen skills so salespeople really learn about the customers business and challenges. Active listening goes hand in hand with great discovery sales questions.
  5. How to identify the prospect’s real needs: If discovery sales questions don’t uncover a buyer’s needs, then a salesperson will have a difficult time positioning the proposed product or service as the solution.
  6. Help prospects buy and overcome obstacles: Understanding the internal workings of the prospects business, creating honest dialog on the process and how to deal with them is important if time wasting is to be avoided.
  7. Create a convincing solution: If you can’t impress a buyer with your proposed solution that communicates how you will help them achieve desired results, you’ll struggle to close.
  8. How to get agreement on the buying process: Training the salesperson to get agreement from the customer on all the steps involved from both sides in the buying process.
  9. Creating a personal value proposition: What does the salesperson represent (linked to sales mindset) and what are the values they hold dear. Creating a personal value proposition and then sharing it builds rapport and trust.
  10. How to differentiate based on USP and the value they will bring: In sales training, too many courses teach salespeople how to differentiate based on product features and benefits. However, prospects are far more interested in the value the product or service will provide including the value of the salesperson themselves to the buying process.

Sales Performance Improvement

Most sales performance improvement is as a result of the digital transformation in sales, which has seen sales leaders focus in on the development and enablement of their sales force.  Sales performance improvement is a process not an event, it is a continuous improvement process versus a single sales training event.

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No business who is serious about sales growth will want to miss out on the opportunity to improve sales effectiveness and efficiency through process,tools or technology. However, sales performance improvement is a change management project which can lead to fear and uncertainty, especially if seen as interfering with current sales practices.  Sales performance improvement templates such as sales training materials, sales playbooks, tools and competency guidelines all play a central role in driving improvement. For many companies they may not have any or all of this content and then much of the content may not be available for digital consumption.

The first step in creating a sales performance improvement plan may be to choose between content that is ready but doesn’t meet the current needs, then continue to use the existing content in the old way, or invest in transforming the content and templates for digital access. In today’s digital era, we know that salespeople’s learning habits and preferences are changing. Research shows they want shorter, more engaging learning content, for example sales training video that can be consumed online as needed or accessed in their quiet time.

Begin By Documenting Areas for Improvement
Once the business has created a baseline expectation across the sales process for every sales team member, the sales manager or supervisor needs to learn how to properly document what areas require improvement for both the steps in the sales process and for each salesperson. This would then we discussed with each individual as part of a training and review plan. The important thing to remember when creating a paper trail for each sales performance improvement plan is to ensure that the information gathered is entirely objective, fact based, and specific. Needless to remark, the manager or supervisor should avoid generalities and provide detailed examples as much as possible. Once the sales performance improvement areas have been communicated, a number of templates will need to be created. This include what was expected in the sales performance plan and what was actually delivered. Other templates (as part of a sales playbook) could include consequences of veering outside the agreed process’s, action plans and reviews.

Sales Performance Makes Salespeople Goals Personal

Regardless of the sales improvement or sales enablement plan, every salespersons goals should be truly personalized. Within the general plan, take account for goals that focus on areas of personal improvement, individual to each sales team member. To future proof the business, within the sales training section of the sales performance improvement plan, give each salesperson the opportunity to enhance areas where they are already competent and improve areas where there is a skills deficit.

To reduce risk, start by introducing a smaller sales performance improvement plan with lower goals, goals that could improve a salespersons sales habit loop such as doing 10 minutes prep work ( the prep work output should be documented) prior to making a call, or using quiet time to engage in social selling to connect with existing customers or prospects (again, goals need to be set). However, just rolling out some new sales improvement plan with goals is not enough, there also needs to be consequences such as reviews and evaluations.

Let me conclude with one of my favorite sayings, “Fortune favors the brave”, and in a rapidly changing sales environment if there ever was a time to be brave, it’s now. Take time to think differently about your sales model, your sales strategy, your customers buying journey, the role you expect salespeople to execute against and how you plan to develop your sales talent so everyone can commit to doing things better. Never let the pursuit of profit get in the way of progress. Every sales performance improvement plan will face obstacles and encounter issues, so focus on how you envision your sales engine performance in 1,2 or 3 years time. Finally, encourage your sales training and development teams to put some well thought out initiatives into play as they can often be risk-averse. Then back them up, and let them know that it’s not just OK but vital to adopt new ways of getting salespeople to learn and develop, so sales performance improvement will be a constant not just an event.

 

A Guide to Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting whether using cold calling, social selling, emails or referrals is a vital sales tactic especially for new or small businesses.  Prospecting and sales are not the same thing, prospecting is solely focused on searching and engaging with potential customers in order to nurture a relationship. The sales event happens once the prospect has passed some qualification criteria.  The act of picking up the phone or sending a cold email can seem daunting to a salesperson, especially if they work for a company whose product or brand name might not be instantly recognizable.

50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting. [Source: The B2B Lead]

So, here is a guide for sales prospecting success:

effective-sales-prospecting

Use Social Selling and Digital Selling to counteract lack of name recognition.

Using social selling and digital selling tactics can overcome many of the bigger obstacles for new or smaller companies. As Confucius stated “Worry not that no one knows you; seek to be worth knowing.” So, start by really understanding your value proposition and be clear about the buyer pain points and business challenges your company solves.
Givers Gain. The ability to demonstrate (visually using video or content on social media) that you understand your prospects challenges and that you can be a useful source of information to help them improve their business will result in increased relevant connections.

Share first, sell later. Sharing insights and quality information without a big sales pitch is what will get attention from buyers. Use video, case studies, whitepapers, references etc to gentle highlight the benefits of considering your business. Give examples of what makes you different, whether it is a unique product, free trials, lower cost of ownership, proof of concepts or improved performance. Seeding the benefits of doing business with you that can be viewed online will only reinforce your other sales prospecting efforts.

The first step is to create a list of unique benefits and values that will displace any perceived lack of recognition or recall. Building a social selling and digital selling strategy aimed at specific audiences will position the business as one worth considering when it comes to looking for new providers.

Know who you sell to and who will buy from you

Knowing who you want to sell to and who will buy from you are not the same. If you want everyone as a customer, you will sell to no-one. Create 1,2 or 3 Ideal Customer Profiles. In fact, focusing in on who you want to engage is probably THE most important aspect of sales prospecting. To maximize your success, ensure that you prioritize the prospects and profiles in order to improve the chances of providing value to them and their challenges.

Effective Sales Techniques Tips Video from The Digital Sales Institute

During the research stage, the goals to work towards include:

  • To determine if the prospect is worth investing time in
  • List, score, and begin to prioritize prospects
  • Identify touch points (via social or otherwise) to develop a connection through content, message personalization, nurturing and influence development

Seek to Be Useful, Valuable and Relevant

Regardless of whether you try to engage via cold calling, email or social selling, you should seek to be a useful, valuable and relevant contact. Learn how to social listen so you can research their company and understand their business. What trigger events can you uncover that would warrant engaging with you. Have they just launched a new product? Hired a new CEO, moving to a bigger office, Acquired a new company? Trigger selling is where you leverage specific information to make a prospecting touch point relevant, more informed, and less cold.

Become skilled at Social Selling and Digital Selling

The fact is that while still they still deliver results, cold calling and unsolicited emails are not as powerful as they once were. They still have a place in sales prospecting if used in conjunction with social selling. This activity involves the use of LinkedIn, Twitter and increasingly Facebook as part of the sales process to raise buyer awareness towards a business and then gradually cultivating new connections. Learn to use social media to build relationships before a prospect even starts a buyer’s journey, to close the conversion gap and eventually move online social conversations into offline sales conversations. Social selling is an additive process to connect with all stakeholders, decision-makers and influencers as the buying process moves from status quo, to awareness and onto consideration.

Using your Ideal Customer Profiles, locate and list your prospects on LinkedIn, then begin by sharing quality content, be seen to add value to conversations prior to sending out a connection request. Using a highly personalized message, referencing something that will twig their interest will greatly improve their likelihood to accept your request to connect to them. Now, this can turn your first ‘cold’ call touch point into a warm call and increase the percentage of appointments or demos.

Multi-Channel Sales Prospecting Touch Points

Not one single sales prospecting touch point (Social Selling, Emailing or Cold Calling) should be your entire tactic. C level executives receive over 100 emails a day and try to avoid numerous cold pitches so the likelihood of success by simply focusing on one tactic will probably deliver slim pickings.

Successful sales prospecting is about communication and getting commitments. There will always be person to person personalised communication, so learn the multi-channel techniques to overcome any lack of name recognition on calls and mails. The buying committee is now on average made up of 5 to 6 people, so think multi prospecting touch points to multiple people as part of your sales process if you want to build recognition for the business.

As buyers self-educate, getting their time and attention isn’t easy, but perfecting the channels and timing of when to engage them will dramatically close the conversion gap and increase the number sales conversations you secure.

Learn the Sales Habit Loop, Set a Daily Schedule for Yourself

It takes 66 days on average to learn a new habit, so as basic as it sounds, plan your day, book time slots for different prospecting tactics in your calendar, daily. Then persist with it and prospect. Make it part of your daily routine and give yourself a reward not just for the success but also for the effort.  Selling is a repetitive job, it can be easy to dedicate ourselves to the “easier” sales tasks. Even when your sales pipeline seems full, remember over 80% of prospects make it all the way through the sales process and never make a decision. So, you must have a sales habit loop that consistently refreshes the number of sales prospects you are planning to or are currently engaging.
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Never stop Learning

Take time to reassess your sales prospecting process to see what activities generated some return and which ones did not deliver.

After each prospecting campaign, take time to assess how well we:

  • Found a pain point or trigger
  • Were able to engage in meaningful conversations
  • Uncovered challenges
  • Understood the buying committee and decision process
  • Gave buyers reasons to move out of their status quo
  • Closed the conversion gap

Persistence. Learn, have a routine, Try, then try again, reflect, refresh, adjust and go again. And again, and again. Taking time to self-reflect will serve to further improve sales prospecting techniques for future campaigns. Here are some more sales training articles and videos.