4 Sales Training Topics for 2021
“There is no such thing as a no-sale call. A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell...
The hope to provide is impossible without revenue. Therefore, getting the right sales methodology in place is an important milestone for a new startup.
Leaders of a startup organization should focus attention on securing and implementing the right sales methodology. Research demonstrates that executives of all organizations, both small and large, are actively searching for technologies that will help improve the results of their salespeople. There are plenty of performance-enhancing technology options from which to choose. I will share more about the sales tech stack later in this article. In the pursuit of solutions that will improve sales results, leaders should remember that in the absence of fundamental sales skills, no technology will solve your sales revenue problem!
Sales skills are fundamental to sales success! It is not enough to hire salespeople with a history of successful results. Leaders must find and adopt a sales methodology for the team. Salespeople come from a variety of backgrounds. They have been exposed to a host of sales principles, techniques, and tips. The application of sales techniques widely differs based on sales background and experience.
Because salespeople differ in background, experience, and training, each speaks their own sales language. Having multiple sales languages in your organization can provide a breadth of experience that strengthens flexibility and capacity. Multiple sales languages can also create confusion, something like the tower of Babel! When sales leaders cannot communicate simple principles around sales process and techniques (sales plays), the team lacks cohesion that retards culture and performance. Additionally, where there is no common sales process and sales plays—sales pipelines, sales metrics, sales analytics, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems simply do not function! In other words, if you do not have a sales methodology that is used by all team members, no technology will improve your sales results.
For that reason, the first job of a sales leader is to identify, adopt, and maintain a common sales methodology. Your sales method is your first sales technology! That is why getting a sales methodology in place and functioning well is an important milestone for a startup organization.
Importantly, all organizations large and small, incipient and mature, are advantaged by getting back to the basics when it comes to sales performance. If you are currently looking for performance-enhancing technology for your sales team, you should start with sales methodology and sales skills training. So, let’s take a look at sales leadership, sales methodology, and sales technology.
Because all the good intentions organizations have are negated without adequate revenue, all organizational leaders have a revenue responsibility. Revenue is the number 1 strategic contingency for all organizations. All organizational leaders work cooperatively to optimize revenue and resources.
Marketing works to identify possible buyers for their company’s goods and services. They create awareness among likely audiences. They educate possible buyers. Marketing team members create and warm-up leads to pass along to the sales team.
Operations works hard to create a service or product offering that is desirable to potential customers. They fulfill promises made to buyers and drive impactful benefits to their customers.
Human Resources strives to secure and maintain a motivated, engaged workforce that supports operational objectives.
Every organizational division contributes to finding, acquiring, and maintaining profitable customers. It is the purpose for which the organization exists! For that reason, leaders strive to understand and meet customer needs, wants, and demands.
With every team in the company working for their success, sales teams have an obligation to do their very best to be successful. That means SALES LEADERS MUST LEAD! For sales leaders, the goal is to create a sales team that is well trained, highly disciplined and absolutely determined. Those goals are made possible by embracing a sales methodology and then aligning organizational systems and structures to help salespeople to achieve their goals. Crafting sales systems and organizational structures affects the company strategy and shapes the organizational culture.
All organizational leaders work cooperatively to adopt and implement systems, structures, and strategies to help salespeople to perform at their very best!
So, all leaders have a responsibility to contribute to sales success. That starts with a strategy for revenue generation that is supported by organizational structures and systems. The primary system required for success for new startups is a sales system, otherwise known as sales methodology.
Essential pieces to a sales methodology include process, plays, metrics, and coaching. Even mature sales teams settle for weakness in their sales methodology. In doing so, they dishonor the hard work of every other person in the organization working and sacrificing to help salespeople to be successful. Sales leaders simply have to be better. They cannot settle for inadequacy in their sales system. Each element must be present for optimal functionality—process, plays, metrics, and coaching.
The sales process outlines the step-by-step flow of buyers through the sales funnel. Research demonstrates that top sales performers all follow a common sales process. This process is captured in the Griffin Hill Sales System. It is six simple steps; Case Open, Needs Audit, Solution Presentation, Adapted Solution, Closing Interaction, Fulfillment and Follow-up.
Case Open is the first step. It includes identifying suspects for the company’s products and services and then initiating contact with them to determine interest.
Needs Audit is used to facilitate discovery. Most salespeople think discovery is just for them—getting the information they need to be persuasive in the solution presentation stage. What these salespeople and sales leaders overlook is the power of the Needs Audit to stimulate discoveries of need and want in their prospective buyers. The Needs Audit is the best opportunity for master sellers to be persuasive. That is what the book, Be Brilliant! How to Master the Sales Skill of Persuasive Questioning is all about
Solution Presentation is the step used to present to prospective buyers the purchase options and associated benefits that are the best fit for them.
Adapted Solution gives the seller room to maneuver and negotiate based on the prospective buyer’s response to the Solution Presentation.
Closing Interactions can help the buyer and the seller to make progress toward a successful close while waiting for normal and natural delays that can erode sales momentum.
Fulfillment and Follow-up reminds salespeople that the relationship doesn’t end with a close. Sellers have an obligation to deliver on the promises they made throughout the sales process. Helping buyers receive the full impact from the product or service sold is the key to raving fans and a perpetual source of referrals.
Sales Plays represent the scientific principles of persuasion used at each stage of the sales process. For example, the plays of the Case Open Routine include; Rapport, Positioning, Benefit, Proof, and Schedule the Next Event. When a step, like Case Open, in the sales process, is paired with the appropriate plays—Rapport, Positioning, Benefit, Proof, Schedule the Next Event, that combination makes up a Sales Routine. Sales leaders should arm their sellers to deliver a Case Open Routine in 60 words or fewer. The Case Open Routine is the ultimate elevator pitch. As with the Case Open Routine, every step of the sales process is paired with scientific principles of persuasion specifically suited to that stage of the sale.
With a sales process and sales plays in place, leaders can effectively use sales metrics to decipher patterns of behavior among sellers on their team. Leaders can identify patterns of success, best practices, and glaring weaknesses. Sales metrics are the basis for sales analytics that are used for continuous improvement of the sales team. Part of the magic of sales analytics that is based on the sales process and sales plays described is that the metrics are customized to each individual seller.
Once informed by sales analytics, sales leaders are prepared to be effective coaches. Instead of broad sweeping generalizations, coaches can dial-in skill development that is based on individual seller needs. Improved sales results depend on the quality of coaching provided to the salespeople. The quality of coaching is dependent upon the quality of the sales process, sales plays, sales metrics, and analytics.
Where the objective for a sales leader is a well-trained, highly disciplined, and absolutely determined team of sellers, a robust sales methodology is required. That sales methodology must include a sales process, sales plays, metrics/analytics, and coaching. Meeting this standard is a significant milestone for startups as well as mature organizations. Every team should work toward reaching this standard
One definition of a technology is the principles, terminology, methods, and techniques associated with a given discipline. By that standard the sales methodology standard defined above rises to the level of a sales technology. Indeed, it is the most important and fundamental technology that leaders should seek, identify, adopt, and maintain.
After the sales methodology, other sales technology can be profitably added to the sales tech stack. Often billed separately from the sales methodology is sales metrics and sales analytics. We have already defined sales metrics and sales analytics as inherent in the sales system so it will not be called out separately here.
One of the reasons that sales metrics and sales analytics is called out separately is that metrics are frequently a motivating reason for adopting a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). While mechanisms for gathering and analyzing sales activity should be integrated into an organization’s CRM, the nature of the company’s sales metrics and sales analytics should not be determined by the CRM. Those important details should be inherent in your sales methodology.
With that said, a CRM is an important next addition to the sales tech stack. If you are a large and mature enterprise operation, you will be benefitted by implementing a CRM like Salesforce.com. The vast majority of organizations will be better served by a CRM that looks something like HubSpot or Zoho. Both HubSpot and Zoho are easily integrated with the sales methodology described above.
The next addition to your tech stack should be a sales engagement platform. Sales engagement platforms like Griffin Hill’s iLasso help salespeople to be wildly more productive. iLasso sets the standard for productive contact with suspects and prospects. It can make dials, record calls, send emails, deliver text messages, and send meeting invites that land on the calendar of the prospect with whom you have scheduled an appointment. It can also schedule your Zoom, Teams, and Meet video conferencing meetings.
iLasso speeds up all of these selling functions. That means sellers can do more in less time. Hence, increased productivity! Not only that, iLasso gathers all the data required for sales analytics. It is as simple as sending a calendar invite to gather and log all the sales data required for top notch sales analytics! That means salespeople can no longer complain about data entry. The common refrain of salespeople has been, “do you want me to be a data clerk or a salesperson.” iLasso gathers the data on the fly. You will definitely want iLasso in your sales tech stack
Accomplishing that level of discipline in your sales team is a significant milestone! Whether you are a new startup or a mature organization, the standard described here should be your clear objective. By so doing, you are well on your way to having a sales team that is well trained, highly disciplined, and absolutely determined. Well done!
Dr. Scott O. Baird is a human and organizational performance scientist specializing in sales and sales leadership. He is the author of Be Brilliant! How to Master the Sales Skill of Persuasive Questioning. He is also the co-author of two textbooks for college and university students; Professional Selling Essentials: Process and Plays and Sales Leadership: Strategy and Performance.