I have a problem with a lot of sales books and sales training courses.
Especially when they are mechanical and process focussed. Sales is not a predictable science like other professions. A + B does not always equal C.
People mistakenly think you can train anyone to follow a step sales process and the customer will magically buy. One CEO told me when he managed a sales team in the US, one of his sales staff were having difficulty with a customer. The sales person reported to his boss, “I went through the 9 step sales process. The customer did not buy so I went back to step 5 and repeated it all again”. If I was that customer, I would feel a huge distance with the sales person.
Courses can be good for a start-up CEO with little sales experience. The value of value decrease once you’ve had a few years experience.
Other things I don’t like about sales training:
- The sales trainer has a set-piece of content to deliver. When a meaningful diversion is brought `up, if it goes beyond a few minutes the trainer starts to look nervous and tries to get the course “back on track”.
- It’s about turning people in to process driven robots. Maybe it works in some professions, but in sales you are dealing with human beings who are unpredictable.
- Sales training courses are about making money. It’s an easy sell. You ring up a company and say, “how much would it be worth if we increased your sales by 5% this year?”.
An individual who is successful in sales will need the following qualities:
- Ability to communicate to your prospects.
- Empathy for the customer. You understand their organisation, their pain points and how your product will add value. Empathy also includes being able to piece together where you think your customer is in their decision process.
- You require discipline to make phone calls every day and manage rejection. Sales people are measured by financial results.
- You need the ability to manage your emotions. When sales are slow you naturally feel depressed. That’s the time when you should start building confidence in yourself. Nobody wants to buy from a depressed sales person! People can tell your emotional state – even over the phone.
- Hunger for success. A competitive streak is needed. As a start-up CEO you want you make sales now – not in 2 weeks.
Having totally bagged sales training, I want to share some books and training that has been a great influence for me:
Let’s Get Real or Lets Not Play: Transforming the Buyer-Seller Relationship
This is a great book and training course because it moves you away from silly games that vendors and buyers engage in. It’s a logical and understandable approach to selling.
The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister
This is a great book for sales people and anyone involved in professional services. Long term sales success can only come when you have built an maintained a reputation of trust with your customers and those around you.
Persuading Aristotle by Peter Thompson
This book focusses on the art of communication and persuasion. It’s an easy read and should help you improve your selling message to prospects and customers.