Our Sales Training Needs to Be More Thoughtful For Todays Marketplace

By Peter L Mitchell

During the last two years the world has changed, the customers and the markets with it. Customers are demanding more information, they want stronger guarantees, they are seeking better value and comparing prices more closely. Customer loyalty is diminishing as they become more critical of the value offered by so many different businesses. To cope with this change we need to think a lot more about how we train our salespeople. The challenge is not only to decide how we’re going to train new salespeople but how we are going to train or retrain our existing salespeople.

  • Teach salespeople to put less emphasis on persuading buyers and more on listening to buyers, teach the effective counsellor’s principal skill of listening with empathy. This skill communicates to a prospective buyer or long-term customer, “I want to hear your problems and challenges.”
  • Train salespeople to understand the complexities of human’s behaviour, their potential resistance to change, their need to make their own decisions and their rejection of efforts to push or manipulate them.
  • Train salespeople to learn what kind of effect their communication has on other people.

We need to look at training and coaching so that it provides the outcomes that are relevant to the sales people in today’s marketplace. If we get this right, they will become skilled at building relationships with their customers. The profession of selling needs to change right throughout the whole system. Not only must there be a substantial change in the type of relationship with customers but also in the relationships between salespeople and sales managers. The quality and type of training available for salespeople must be improved so that it matches the skills needed to build stronger relationships.

· · · A lot of sales people say that they do not work in the traditional “sales” manner. They never take an adversarial approach where there is a winner and a loser. They don’t regard to their prospective customers as opponents that have to be beaten. However, this does not seem to be the view of the buyers. The selling and buying process normally occurs with the belief that someone is going to win and someone is going to lose. This is the reason it is difficult to develop a degree of trust in that relationship.

The current situation often means that the salesperson takes on this heroic approach of believing they should close every sale regardless of the mismatch between the product and the needs of the customer. It is time to radically change the way we train our salespeople to meet the requirements of the development of our marketplaces.

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