Sales Training:Six Tips for Success

sales trainingWill your next sales training event get rave reviews or be panned by a group of disappointed salespeople? Delivering successful sales training requires careful planning and preparation.The six tips described below will help make sure that you cover all the bases needed to succeed.

1. Assess Needs

The key to successful sales training is not just doing things right, but doing the right things. Training events should address an area where there is room to improve and where improvement will result in a payoff for the participant. Conducting a needs assessment prior to training ensures that your training is relevant and needed.

You can assess needs informally or formally. The key is to avoid designing training in a vacuum.

2. Establish Learning Objectives

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” This saying is particularly true for sales training events. Objectives help focus the participant and the trainer on achieving specific results. When determining learning objectives, remember that they should closely reflect the expected behavior participants do on the job.

3. Select the Appropriate Activities

Based on the experience and learning styles of the participants and on your own comfort with the material choose activities that best match your learning objectives. Select several types of activities to make sure you have variety and that you address all learning styles.

4. Develop An Agenda

Whether you are planning a one-hour training event or one that lasts three days, your event will benefit from a well-thought-out agenda. When developing your agenda, make sure you allow adequate time for each activity or topic, especially those with the highest priority. Also, sequence the activities logically and with consideration for how each activity relates to each other.

5. Make Arrangements for the Training Event

Successful sales training events, like successful sales calls, require adequate planning, preparation, and follow-up. Make sure you include the following in your preparation:

• Prepare Materials. Prepare all classroom materials (handouts, review sheets, etc.) in advance.

• Check the Equipment. If you need equipment such as flip charts, projector, lap top etc., make sure they are properly set up and working before the meeting begins.

• Check the Room. Check the room to make sure that particulars such as seating arrangements, lighting, room temperature, etc., all meet your requirements.

• Include Breaks. If your meeting agenda is more than a few hours, be sure to schedule adequate breaks. Remember: “The mind can absorb what the rear-end can endure.”

• Don’t Forget To Use Energizers. For longer programs, don’t forget to include energizers that involve physical movement. Consider using them after long sessions or before changing from one major topic to another.

• Plan The Evaluation. Determine how you’re going to evaluate the session. This can range from class evaluations to on-the job assignments. Decide before you conduct the training and tell the group why it’s important and how they will use the information.

• Prepare Yourself. Every training event is really three entities:the one you prepare, the one you deliver, and the one you evaluate when it’s over. The more you prepare, the better the other two entities are.

6. The Ultimate Test

The last and most important test for any training is, “Does it help salespeople make more sales?”

Depending upon your sales cycle, it may take several months before the results of this evaluation are in. However, bottom-line results are a powerful tool for motivating salespeople to change behavior, because they show a direct link between the training and enhanced results. An even stronger and immediate reinforcement for applying new skills is rewarding salespeople. Use intangible rewards (e.g., feedback, praise, recognition, etc.) or tangible (e.g., contests, prizes, rewards, etc.). The key is providing rewards that are meaningful to your people. Remember, well-planned, concerted effort to reinforce and reward participants for their efforts is your best opportunity to cultivate the behaviors you want participants to show in the long-term.

To make sure your next training event is well received and produces the expected results use the six steps outlined above.

For more information on successful sales training go to: trainingwinnersnow.com

 

Sales Compensation Plans Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

    How effective is your sales compensation plan? Does it help you attract the  people you    need     and are you able to keep your top performers? If you’re not  satisfied with your compensation plan, you may have one or more of the following sales compensation plans pitfalls. As you review each one, think about your own sales  compensation plan.

1. One size fits all.

Having a uniform compensation plan may sound fair, but is rarely effective.  Unless all your salespeople enter your company with the same experience and do  exactly the same job, compensation becomes an issue. Such factors as size of the  territory, potential of the territory, types of accounts and experience of the  salesperson usually necessitates some adjustments in the compensation plan.

Tip: Make sure your compensation plan fits the various needs  and demands of your people, the job, and the company’s goals.

2. Punishing high performers.

Some companies have a philosophy of “how do we prevent our salespeople from  making too much money?” This approach de-motivates high performers. Basically,  the plan tells high performers “once you make this much, your income potential  stops… no matter how much extra revenue you could bring in for the  organization.” This doesn’t mean companies should give their people a blank  check. It means that if high performers can find ways to increase the company’s  revenues and profits, compensate them accordingly.

Tip: To maximize the potential of your sales force, give  worth-while incentives for your high performers. Give them a reason to  stretch

3. Subsidizing mediocrity. Many compensation plans set the  performance standard too low. Salespeople receive better than average  compensation for doing average performance. Plans that encourage salespeople to  “just make quota” settle for too little… and usually get it. High performing  organizations view quota as the minimal standard or starting point for achieving  financial success.

Tip: Make sure your plan is both challenging and  realistic.

4. Discouraging rookies. Most sales jobs take time to learn.  During this learning period, new salespeople usually produce less revenue and  make less than experienced salespeople. If the new salesperson can’t make enough  to live while learning the job, they will become discouraged and look for  another opportunity.

Tip: Create a compensation plan that helps salespeople make  the financial transition from rookie to an experienced salesperson.

5. Playing games with people’s paychecks. The quickest way  to destroy trust and de-motivate salespeople is to play games with their  paychecks. When any change, mistake, or adjustment to a paycheck happens handle  it quickly, accurately and with a proper explanation. If you change the pay  plan, make sure people understand it before rolling it out. If you miscalculated  a bonus or commission, correct it immediately. How you respond in these  situations is as important as what you actually do.

Tip: Be honest, direct and responsive in all actions that  impact salespeople’s actual paycheck.

6. Looking at compensation as a cost not an investment. The  goal of sales is to acquire customers. The goal of a compensation plan is to  motivate salespeople to acquire as many of the right type of customers as  possible. Managing compensation as a cost requires organizations to restrict it,  which in turn restricts the organization’s ability to acquire customers.  Managing compensation as an investment focuses on the return generated by the  compensation plan and not just the amount spent.

Tip: Develop a compensation plan that products the best  ROI.

7. Providing incentives for the urgent and not the  important. Why do so many companies experience peaks and valleys in  their sales? Often it’s because they only focus on short-term goals at the cost  of long-term growth. One company placed a premium on acquiring new business and  succeeded. However, they neglected their existing customer base and lost as many  existing customers as they gained new ones. Churning customers is a dangerous  and unprofitable practice. Remember, when you introduce an incentive for one  thing, something else suffers.

Tip: Before introducing an incentive, make sure you  understand its full impact.

8. Letting the compensation system manage performance.  Compensation plans give structure and incentives for the sales force. They  should support management’s goals and strategies, not replace effective  leadership and coaching. The compensation plan is a tool for managers to use  with other performance management tools and activities (i.e., performance  appraisals, forecasting, training, etc.) to maximize sales performance

Tip: Integrate the compensation plan with your other  performance management tools to maximize performance.

9. Failing to teach people how to win. One definition of  motivation is “winning is fun and losing isn’t.” If this is the case, a  manager’s job is to help his/her salespeople win. Since the compensation plan  provides the rules of the game, managers must show their people how to play and  win the game. This is particularly true when you introduce a new compensation  plan or for new people. Showing them how to win motivates and invites  loyalty.

Tip: Know how to win with your compensation plan and teach  your people how to do it.

10. Overlooking the power of psychic compensation. Money is  a strong motivator, but it’s not the only motivator. By leveraging such psychic  compensation as recognition, praise, feedback, teamwork etc., you can elevate  your sales organization’s performance to new levels.

Tip: Besides money, find out what winning is for each  salesperson. Then help them make their personal wins.

Summary How many of the pitfalls have you experienced? How  many are exist with your compensation plan? Developing the right compensation  plan requires a careful analysis of such factors as:

• The market

• Your work unit (region, office, etc.)

• The Company

• Your Personnel

• Your Goals

• The Resources / Tools Available

This analysis helps you develop a sales compensation plan tailored to your  needs. Take the time and effort required and both you and your people will be  justly rewarded.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6435518

Sales Coaching : When Do You Step In on a Sales Call?

A common problem on coaching calls is the sales manager taking over the sales call or “stepping in”. Sales managers often ask “when is it appropriate to step in?” Some of the most common reasons given for stepping in are:

• The salesperson is really in trouble

• The salesperson has made a major mistake

• The salesperson is about to lose a sale

• It’s a very big sale

• The salesperson can’t handle the customer

Although all of these are very compelling reasons for stepping in, they are merely a symptom of a much bigger problem. If you have to step in on a coaching call, it’s a signal that you have failed as a coach on that call. Stepping in prevents the salesperson from developing his/her selling skills and it prevents you from being able to fully exercise your coaching skills. Once you step in, you are no longer an objective observer, but an active participant. This severally limits your ability to focus on what the salesperson is doing right or wrong. When you step in, you are telling the salesperson that this call is more important than his or her development.

If salespeople aren’t ready to make a call on their own, then make the call a joint call or a training call. But, if you agree that it’s a coaching call and salespeople are responsible for the outcome, then let them succeed or fail on their own merits. Your job at that point is to make sure your salespeople have learned from the experience.

Sales Management Strategies: Making Sales Calls with Your Reps

In today’s demanding marketplace sales managers must have strategies for increasing sales and developing people. Besides enhancing relationships with customers making calls is the best opportunity to do both. This article outlines strategies for making three different sales calls that will drive sales and develop your people. They are:

• Training
• Joint
• Coaching

Each has a different purpose, strategy and the roles for both you and the salesperson are also different.

Training calls teach the salesperson how to do a specific aspect of the job. Your make the presentation while the salesperson observes. The key to a success is for you to demonstrate proper selling skills and techniques. Your job is to give the salesperson an effective model and make sure the salesperson understands how to perform the aspect of the job you have demonstrated. Before the call, make sure the salesperson knows:

  • The objectives (both performance and development)
  • The skills or techniques you are demonstrating
  • His/her role

After, be sure to review the following:

  • Were the objectives achieved?
  • What helped?
  • What hindered?
  • How else could the call have been made?

Joint calls support a team approach. Both you and the salesperson have defined roles and responsibilities. Before, make sure you review the following:

  • The objectives (both performance and development)
  • The strategy
  • What role will each person play?
  • Who is responsible for each segment of the call?
  • How will you interact during the call?

After, you should discuss:

  • Were the objectives met?
  • What helped?
  • What hindered?
  • How could the call have been improved?
  • Who is responsible for following up on commitments made during the call (if any)?

Coaching calls are designed for you to observe and assess the salesperson’s performance. The salesperson’s role is to make the sales call. Your role is to observe and offer feedback after the call. Coaching calls are a true test of your listening and observing skills, not your selling skills. Before, be sure to cover:

  • The objectives (both performance and development)
  • The strategy
  • Responses to obstacles that may come up

After, discuss the following:

  • Were the objectives met?
  • What helped (what were the salesperson’s strengths)?
  • What hindered (what were the salesperson’s improvement opportunities)?
  • How could the call have been improved or handled differently?
  • What actions need to be taken next

Seating relative to the customer is important on each situation. The key is for you to situate yourself consistent with the agreed upon role and objectives. Use these guidelines:

Training calls-Position yourself closest to the customer so that the salesperson can observe easily. Also the proximity to the customer establishes that you are taking the lead.

Joint Calls-Sit side by side with the salesperson. This signals equality of your roles and makes it easy for “handing off” to each other.

Coaching calls– The salesperson should be closest to the customer making sure that you are out of the salesperson’s peripheral view. This positioning establishes the salesperson as the lead and helps prevent the salesperson from presenting to you instead of the customer.

To increase sales you need a well-trained and high performing sale force.Making sales calls with your salespeople gives you the greatest leverage points for developing them and making sales. To make sure you have successful call strategies set clear expectations and define roles.

 

 

Increase Sales with Curbside Coaching

To be a successful sales manager and increase sales you must learn how to  effectively perform curbside coaching.

Every sales call presents “lessons to be learned”. Salespeople who learn  these lessons best develop their capabilities and improve their performance.  Those who don’t or can’t learn the lessons find themselves doomed to mediocrity  or failure.

Your job as a manager is to make sure your salespeople benefit from each call  they make. The best way to do this is during the post-call coaching session,  sometimes called “curbside coaching.”

When to Do It?

The best time to give feedback is immediately after the  call. At this time, the details of the call are  still fresh in your mind and the mind of the salesperson.

However, there are times when you can’t immediately curbside coach. If this  is the case, be sure to jot your thoughts down on paper so you can discuss at a  later time.

What Should a Coaching Session Accomplish?

The obvious answers are for the salesperson to recognize what they right and  understand ways to improve. However, there are several other objectives that the  session should achieve.

Have the salesperson:

• Assess the extent the salesperson achieved the call objectives

• Recognize what factors favorably influenced the outcome of the call

• Recognize what factors negatively influenced the outcome of the call

• Identify other actions that could have made the call more effective

• Determine what follow up actions are needed

The coaching session should also enable you to:

• Assess the salesperson’s ability in planning, implementing and analyzing a  sales call

• Reinforce the salesperson’s strengths

• Identify areas for you to work with the salesperson

• Improve your relationship with the salesperson

• Gain insight into the types of issues your salesperson is confronting in  the field

Salespeople need coaching to be at the top of their game. Invest the time  after every call to develop your salespeople and increase sales with curbside  coaching.

 

10 Strategies for Increasing Personal Productivity

The Problem

In a competitive marketplace, it’s imperative that you stay ahead of the competition.  Doing so means optimizing your personal productivity.  This means staying focused on the activities that produce the results you want.

The Solution

Here are 10 strategies for increasing your personal productivity.

  1. Review your goals regularly to make sure your work is personally satisfying.
  2. Focus on results, not activity.  It’s not how hard you work, but what you accomplish that counts.
  3. Remember the 80/20 rule: 20 percent of your activities produce 80 percent of your results, while the remaining 80 percent of your activities produces only 20 percent of your results. Make sure you know which activities are which.
  4. Know when your job’s “prime time” is. Those are periods of the day or week that are most productive and provide the best results.  Scheduling your activities during such “prime times” will bring maximum results in the shortest time.
  5. Most people also have their own personal prime times. Those are periods of time they find themselves personally most productive. Whenever possible, try to align your schedule to take advantage of your prime personal times, by tackling those activities that are most difficult when you are to be at your best.
  6. Track your results and review your progress. Know how you’re spending your time. This will help you find ways to make your job more interesting, break-up the routine and take advantage of new challenges.
  7. Stay focused by filtering out the irrelevant. Do this by defining the precise objective of the activity at hand. Periodically ask yourself, “What’s the best use of my time right now?” Using this question as a tool will help you stay on track.
  8. After prioritizing your activities, get started. The hardest part of writing a letter is the first line. The toughest part of cold calling is picking up the receiver. So tackle your “A” priorities now.
  9. Do it right the first time. Many people don’t have time to adhere to this principle. However, they always seem to find time to do the task over.
  10. Mentally plan the day before it begins by visualizing what you need to accomplish for the entire day. Research from a wide variety of organizations determined that this practice is one of the most distinguishable characteristics among high performance people. The techniques used may vary from formulating a “to do list” just before going to bed, to planning the day while showering. But, high performers develop the specific discipline of mentally starting the day before the activities actually begin.