So you have been selling your products and services for awhile now and have been using a CRM system to track communications, schedule meetings and identify the sales opportunities in your pipeline. What do you do with all that information? What are salespeople supposed to learn to get better?
The obvious answer: All of it is "proven and tested" to work, but only if the salesperson is willing, able and motivated to learn.
What works and for how long?
The obvious answer: None of them last. Sales training is like exercise. It has to be ongoing.
"Can you Really Get Better at Selling" is a recent Selling Power blog post by Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder and publisher of Selling Power magazine. (One of my favorite monthly magazines and a helpful web site).
Gerhard states the 5 learning methods for "How can we learn faster so we get ahead of forgetting?" Also, having the ability to quickly get a snapshot of a 360 degree view of the customer profile from your CRM system sure helps.
He states, "The Manager's ignorance is the biggest roadblock to training."
A good salesperson who gets promoted to sales management probably is not the best person in a "Manager" role. Sales leaders are not likely to lead by example when it comes to education.
Sales Management and Leadership Training is not taking place.
Case in point: There are over 5 million sales managers in the US. Less than 2,000 per year attend sales management or sales leadership conferences. Although there are fewer marketing managers than sales managers, every year over 20,000 marketing managers attend marketing conferences to advance their knowledge.
What's the solution to really getting better at selling?
I strongly support Gerhard's recommendation: "If you are a salesperson, don't depend on your company to hand you the key to sales success on a silver platter. Don't expect your sales manager to coach you. If you are lucky enough to work with a good coach, soak up every lesson and apply them on the job. Don't expect too much from a sales meeting, but use the breaks to learn as much as you can from the top performers. Seek out your own teachers."
Your best teachers are:
1. Your own curiosity.
2. Your ability to ask good questions.
3. Your customers. Learn how they think, feel and act. The more you know about your customers, the better you will be able to help them create value.
4. Your willingness to read more. There are over 5,000 books on the subject of selling. Read a book a week, apply a new idea each day and soon you'll be at the head of your team. Study the masters of success like Neil Rackham, Jeff Gitomer, Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy, Josiane Feigon, Jill Konrath, Barbara Sanfilippo, Tony Alessandra, Jim Cathcart, Harvey Mackay etc. Search for sales titles on Amazon.com. "
Jeff Gitomer, Tony Parinello, Neil Rackham, Jeff Thull, Brian Tracy and Jill Konrath are my favorite authors who get things done with sales training. Find one that fits your prospects and style. Also, the CanDoGo.com web site has topical sales presentions in audio/video format to gain quick ideas and tips.
I strongly recommend you review how you can use the other 6 recommended points of your best teachers. The full "How Can you really get better at Selling" can be found here.
Be yourself because customers can see right through you. Plus, being yourself is a whole lot easier and more productive. Your contacts want authenticity, creativity and above all integrity. They first must get to know you and like you before they will trust you. People will always buy first who you are before they will buy what you sell.
Top sales people have the ability to intuitively understand what works in selling, to constantly improve, and they are avid, life-long learners.
What have you found to be the best teachers to get better at selling?