Complexity within businesses is increasing. This trend arises from a competitive strategy in which companies use nuanced differentiators.
The result: leaders face the challenge of managing increasingly layered businesses. In fact, in one survey, 45% of C-Level respondents “indicated that they did not have full confidence in their organisations’ ability to manage complexity,” according to The Society for Human Resources Management.
This complexity has given rise to equally complex business solutions. Therefore, sales leaders are learning that they need an increasingly diverse curriculum to deliver the broad skill set needed to position different solutions. Achieving this goal means understanding the different roles within the sales profession and the content that supports them.
The Richardson sales training curriculum follows this line of thinking. Our system is backed by our belief that establishing trust and building long-term relationships requires a sales professional to create connected, insightful, and engaging dialogue.
This approach is effective because it addresses the core of selling: the buyer and seller relationship.
Here, we look at what sales leaders need to think about when considering a sales curriculum. We illustrate the forward-thinking skills and strategies needed to sell to the modern buyer.
With a structured learning methodology, professionals develop a dimensional skill set equipping them to navigate the complete sales cycle.
Click on the links below to learn more about effective sales training curriculums for different types of sales professionals:
Today, more businesses are focusing their efforts on inside sales. In fact, some industries are reporting that 55% of their sales originate from inside teams.
This groundswell of activity around inside sales is in response to advancements in sales and marketing automation. These efficiencies offer more cost-effective ways for sales professionals to reach more customers with audio and video.
This means inside sales professionals need to make a greater effort to understand different needs across a range of customers.
One Accenture survey of more than 1,200 companies worldwide shows that sellers who “build a trusted relationship with customers can improve results.” Sellers who fell into this category saw a higher percentage of forecasted wins and quota attainment than other, more traditional sales models.
Customers need a partner, not just a seller. With consultative sales training, professionals learn how to ask the deeper questions that clarify needs. Inside sales professionals need:
- Consultative Telephone Selling: A consultative approach uses questions to uncover detailed customer needs. These skills help the sales professional map their capabilities to the customer’s specific goals.
- Prospecting and Referrals: Effective prospecting means developing a message articulated clearly and briefly in the span of a short phone call. Messaging must be simplified without relying on jargon or lofty vocabulary. The sales professional must be able to demonstrate that they represent a partnership, not just a product.
- Storytelling: Inside sales professionals only have a brief period to articulate how the solution connects to the customer’s world. The contextual power of a narrative uses story structure to effectively trace the solution’s benefits to customer outcomes. The logical progression of a story resonates with all listeners.
Sales professionals are learning that they need a team to articulate the capabilities of increasingly sophisticated solutions. Michael Dalis, sales coach and author of Sell Like a Team, remarked on a study, which revealed that “eighty-two percent of respondents said that two or more people were required for critical meetings at least 50 percent of the time.” This team approach is becoming more commonplace in field sales.
While a selling organisation may include numerous strong sales professionals, getting a group to work in cohesion is a different challenge. Synchronizing a sales team means overcoming common challenges like assuming all team members possess the same customer knowledge. Achieving team unity also means learning to embrace conflicts early in the process so that there’s plenty of time to resolve disagreements. Doing so means building an environment that allows for feedback that’s balanced, direct, and honest. Field sales professionals need:
- Consultative Selling: The consultative process is the foundation of field sales. Field sales professionals learn to avoid seller-centric behaviours by adopting a mindset of authenticity. These skills help sales professionals use leverage insights that earn the right to ask more questions.
- Prospecting and Referrals: Field sales professionals must be able to access decision makers with “uptiering” that reaches senior-level decision makers. A contact will be more receptive to granting access if they truly believe that their involvement connects to positive outcomes.
- Networking: The sales professional must open new dialogues with a concise description of the most compelling points. This approach establishes credibility in a short period of time.
- Consultative Negotiations: Successful negotiations reach a mutually beneficial outcome, which allows for future business. To do so, field sales professionals must overcome objections by converting the customer demands to needs. A demand is nothing more than an underlying need.
- Territory Management: Field sales professionals must be able to segment a territory by prioritising current customers and prospects based on deal size, geographic location, and products. Territory management is critical for improving the field sales professional’s productivity.
- Team Selling: Engaging prospective customers also requires team selling skills in which sales professionals learn to deliver a cohesive message by combining the skills of several participants. Presentation flow, handoffs, and preparation are all important.
- Storytelling: Stakeholders seeking a solution will engage with numerous sales professionals. Therefore, being competitive means making what you say more memorable. Story structure features a progression in which one part connects to the next. This chain of linear progression makes it easy to retain critical takeaways. This consolidated approach offers simplicity that’s memorable.
High-value, complex deals require a powerful combination of process, strategy, and skill. These high-stakes interactions require sales professionals to navigate a complicated stakeholder environment by aligning with the way the customer buys. This means engaging in dialogues that build trust and leverage insights relevant to the industry and the customer’s business.
Training in high-performance selling is critical for the intensive processes necessary to win big sales. Customers today are more informed, have access to more information, and have increased expectations. With a structured, consistent path, sales professionals can move through the sales cycle with greater precision. The result is a more productive sales dialogue. In time, this approach can reduce the overall cost of the sales pursuit while evolving a customer-centric sales culture. Field sales professionals in complex sales need:
- Intentional Pursuit Strategy: Field sales professionals engaged in complex sales need an intentional pursuit strategy that employs a repeatable process with effective customer dialogues. With these skills, field sales professionals develop and expand customer relationships to capitalise on previous wins.
- Prospecting and Referrals: Performing in the world of complex field sales means learning to prospect with a credible and customised message of value. Field sales professionals can preempt resistance with insights while respecting the customer’s need for autonomy by influencing without dictating.
- Presentation Skills: When in front of clients, field sales professionals need presentation skills that actively involve customers and gain immediate feedback. Field sales professionals learn to tailor their message in a way that resonates with the audience.
- Networking: Given that complex field sales involve numerous decision makers, networking skills are critical. Field sales professionals must learn to maintain contact to strengthen relationships during long sales cycles. Effective networking boosts referrals, brand awareness, pipeline opportunities, and more.
- Consultative Negotiations: Negotiations are in play throughout the sales cycle. Field sales professionals in complex sales must continuously emphasize the value they have created while looking for early indications of how the customer will respond to negotiations.
- Prosperous Account Strategy: Sales professionals need a consistent method for identifying and expanding into the existing customer’s white space. With a strategic approach, sales professionals can be involved in the customer’s decision-making process early and build from previous wins.
- Trusted Adviser: When a sales professional ascends to the role of a trusted adviser they bolster customer loyalty and retention. With trust comes a shortened sales cycle and protection against competitive threats.
- Team Selling: As business challenges become more complex, sales professionals are discovering that they need a team presence to position solutions. Sales professionals must learn skills like incorporating SMEs and balancing expertise with meaningful value.
- Selling with Insights: As competitive pressures rise, it’s more important than ever for sales professionals to be able to help customers clarify and reframe their thinking. Doing so means developing insights that connect the solution to the customer’s competitive advantage.
- Storytelling: Connecting a solution’s capabilities to a complex business challenge means focusing the customer on what’s important. When listening to a sales professional, customers are searching for that singular characteristic that speaks to their need. Stories are effective in this context because they represent a simplified template in which the sales professional must edit their messaging to only the pieces that fit a narrative structure. Doing so helps keep the delivery tight.
Effective customer service means driving customer loyalty and building customer retention. Achieving this means remembering that each interaction with a customer forms a view of your brand and is an opportunity to strengthen relationships.
Building these long-term relationships and reaching efficient resolutions requires sales professionals to connect with customers through phone presence, relating, and taking ownership of the customer’s issues. This component of a sales curriculum is critical because, in many cases, the customer’s only personal connection to the business is a customer service professional.
The most effective sales professionals build rapport and use questioning skills to create a focused customer dialogue. They also seek feedback by checking with the customer that their needs are covered. These outcomes require the sales professional to acknowledge the customer’s problem, empathise, and drill down. Service sales professionals need:
- Exceptional Customer Service: Service is about exceeding the customer’s expectations. Service sales professionals must take ownership of the customer’s issues and maintain a reassuring presence that reduces conflict.
- Service to Sales: A strong customer service experience creates opportunities for service sales professionals to identify customer cues that reveal additional, unmet customer needs. Service sales professionals learn to transition from problem resolution to selling.
- Storytelling: Converting a service dialogue to a sale requires a bridge. Storytelling serves as that connection because stories resonate with everyone; they are part of our evolutionary inheritance. The natural flow of a four-part story structure acts as a transition in which discussions of immediate needs advance to discussions of a long-term solution.
A strong sales team starts with a stronger sales manager. Therefore, a complete curriculum should include offerings that help managers develop coaching skills. Better coaching drives continuous developmental feedback that is directly linked to achieving business objectives. These skills are critical because sales managers are the force multipliers in the organisation.
With training, businesses can create an organisational-wide coaching culture that drives business performance. This increases the potential to meet measurable business goals and change behaviour by creating a discipline of “everyday coaching.”
The value of this approach is that it instils a sense of accountability for personal growth among the sales professionals in the organiszation. In time, the culture thrives on feedback that drives change. Sales managers need:
- Consultative Selling: To effectively lead a team, sales managers need the core consultative selling skills that help sales professionals learn the details behind customer needs and goals. They must understand how to foster openness and lead the conversation with a plan.
- Developmental Sales Coaching: Sales managers excel when they move from being a “boss” to a coach. Managers learn to provide continuous developmental feedback that’s directly linked to achieving business objectives.
- Behavioural Interviewing: Success in management begins in the interview. With behavioural interviewing skills, sales managers learn what makes high-performing sales professionals succeed. With this insight, they can optimisze the interview process to better identify the strongest candidates.
- Pipeline Management: Sales managers need a systematic way to analyse and manage their pipeline to ensure that they hit their target close ratios while increasing forecast accuracy. By developing key performance indicators, sales managers can build a more robust pipeline.
- Storytelling: With so many sales roles and numerous products, sales managers need a method that works across all markets. Storytelling serves this need with a simplified format that uses universally recognised elements like conflict and turning point to compel customers and win the sale.
Growing complexity among businesses means there is no longer a single “go-to” solution. Selling organisations need to equip themselves with a comprehensive set of skills that can be strategically deployed as different opportunities arise.
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