Traditional sales training is dead
Sales trainers who live by the fiction that salespeople can be taught by lectures, PPTs, and war stories from the field are standing in the way of progress. We need to eliminate the boring roleplays and toss out the time-wasting hypothetical scenarios that will never happen in reality.
Many sales-training efforts are still focused on product knowledge and measured by butts in seats and smiley sheets.
Sales training 2.0 begins with an individual performance assessment that shows salespeople what skills they need to work on. Successful sales organizations create a three-step system that begins with virtual learning, which is then extended through live training that focuses on the exploration of ideas, processes, and solutions. The third part happens in the field with one-on-one coaching.
The old model of sales training or coaching consisted of sales managers telling salespeople, “Let me show you how I did it when I was in the field.” This approach allows the teacher to hide behind a cloud of authority while ignoring the trainee’s real needs. The future of sales training lies in a prescriptive learning model in which every salesperson follows an individual development plan.
The new model of learning revolves around self-exploration, reality-based peer discussions, and discovery-based coaching. The role of the trainer or coach is not to play the all-knowing supersalesman, but to assume the role of the change leader, the creator of an open communications platform in which sales transformations are enabled, not mandated.
Action step for winning in 2010: Make sales coaching a top priority for frontline managers.
Sales Coaching by Linda Richardson
Traditional sales technologies are not helping salespeople sell more
Customer relationship management describes the methods companies use to interact with their customers. CRM software is often promoted as a tool that offers companies a 360-degree view of the customer, which will drive up productivity. In reality, CRM software is often poorly adopted by the sales team. Why? Salespeople don’t want to be data-entry clerks. Salespeople would prefer to spend more time in front of customers, not staring at a screen. Sales managers get frustrated when sales forecasts are inaccurate, when leads contain poor data, and when salespeople fail to enter comprehensive account information.
While CRM implementations often fail to deliver ROI, Sales 2.0 applications can often translate into significant paybacks. Sales 2.0 technologies have improved sales productivity, enhanced lead management, increased forecasting accuracy, accelerated compensation management, dramatically cut the time spent generating quotes and proposals, improved sales enablement, and enhanced marketing. Successful companies have integrated a suite of Sales 2.0 solutions that have accelerated sales and created a sales culture based on measurement. CRM isn’t going to increase sales; it is merely a repository for customer data. Smart companies develop a complete suite of business solutions to help salespeople sell faster and better while driving up customer value and company revenues. The software company SAP has recognized this trend and recently introduced SAP Business Suite.
Salesforce.com offers customers an overwhelming number of solutions (more than 800 different applications).
Action step for winning in 2010: Step up to productivity-enhancing Sales 2.0 technologies.
Marketo – a revenue-focused, sales-and-marketing tool that creates more leads, facilitates lead scoring, enables lead nurturing, delivers greater pipeline insights, and enhances sales and marketing collaboration.
InsideView – empowers your salespeople by providing the latest personal and business information about each sales opportunity. Salespeople can set “triggers” to receive automatic alerts about game-changing events in their prospect’s business.
Kadient - enables your salespeople with a playbook for winning the deal. This advanced collaboration tool allows sales organizations to harness the collective intelligence of their peers.
BigMachines – helps salespeople automate complex price quotes, accurately configures solutions, and creates customized proposals. Salespeople are able to save hours of preparation time and spend more time seeing customers.
Right90 – helps sales managers accurately measure the value of their sales pipeline to dramatically increase forecast accuracy. This effective sales analytic tool creates a climate of accountability and predictability.
Xactly - energizes sales teams to reach higher levels of performance with a powerful incentive compensation management solution. While most sales organizations calculate sales commissions and incentive rewards with spreadsheets, Xactly eliminates costly errors, shadow accounting, and time-wasting commission disputes while creating a climate of trust and fairness.
Social networking will dramatically change the way we sell in 2010
To stay competitive, salespeople need to invest in learning how to talk to prospects in different social spaces. Why? Traditional emailing has become less and less effective. A prospect that is getting 160 emails a day is not likely to take time to respond to a salesperson’s pitch. When salespeople use social- media tools, they can connect with customers by whatever means they happen to find engaging.
“Texting is more popular than email with younger people,” says Gartner Group analyst James Lundy. “The older generation tends to disagree. The future is an aggregation, so that people will be able to choose the modality they want to use.” With the astronomical growth of social media, it is important to take that growth as a yardstick to measure our progress. It is an inevitable conclusion that if we want to create value for our customers, we need to communicate in a way that our customers value.
Action steps for winning in 2010:
1. Create a social-media policy. Salespeople need clear guidelines as to how to communicate online.
2. Create a social-media strategy that is tied to your sales and marketing objectives. For example, share specific examples of how sales managers can use LinkedIn for hiring, how salespeople can use LinkedIn for prospecting, how marketing managers can follow Wall Street Journal writers and pitch a story to them, etc.
3. Set reasonable performance standards for socialnetworking proficiency. Some companies expect newly hired salespeople to have a total of more than 1,000 connections in the three major social networks: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
4. Create a socialmedia learning channel that will help you stay current with the field. Here is a list of the top 25 socialmedia gurus you want to follow on Twitter.
5. Spotcheck your salespeople’s socialnetworking channels during sales meetings. For example, if salespeople follow leading entertainers instead of industry business leaders, remind them of your policy, socialmedia objectives, and expectations for socialmedia effectiveness.
The Facebook Era by Clara Shih
Twitter Power by Joel Comm
A list of the top 25 socialmedia gurus to follow on Twitter
Social Media tips by Kodak
Social Media Guide by Dell
There are only five certainties in selling in 2010
First, the customer IS our business. Our number one business goal is to create new customers. Customers are not created through the sale, but through their success with our product or service.
Second, all customers want to trade their problems for outcomes that accelerate their success. Our customers don’t want solutions, they want outcomes.
Third, if we continue to deal with our customers the way we did in the past, we are certain to fail in 2010.
Fourth, companies that fail to prepare for success in 2010 will lose their best salespeople to companies who offer better opportunities for winning.
Fifth, change with the times, but never forget your DNA to success: your company’s mission, vision of the future, and core values.
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