Do your sales training seminars cover what salespeople really need in today’s selling environment? While tips on appearance, prospecting, building rapport, delivering presentations and the like are useful, modern selling requires an upgrade in training. There are a few additions to advanced sales training that could produce better salespeople if implemented. In this post I will focus on four important ones: emotional intelligence, video selling, gender/diversity training, and intensity.
Let’s explore how each of these fits into sales skills training.
Emotional Intelligence for sales success
Emotional intelligence is an advanced sales training subject which should be introduced as soon as possible in a salesperson’s career. EQ helps salespeople better relate and connect to buyers. Research has shown it is even more important than IQ when it comes to sales success.
Studying emotional intelligence encourages salespeople to:
- Understand their own personality strengths and weaknesses
- Improve communication skills
- Work with diverse buyer types
- Leverage the six primary stimuli of the old brain (ME focus, simplicity, beginning and end, clear contrast, images, and emotion/excitement)
Absent these skills, salespeople might know the notes – but can they play the tune? In other words, you can teach salespeople all the “right” things to say, give them product knowledge, provide a rock-solid sales process — but if they don’t know EQ they will fail to connect with buyers on an emotional level. No emotional connection equals no rapport or trust, and that equals no sales.
As stated in Entrepreneur’s “Research Says This Type of Video Closes More B2B Sales,” 70 percent of B2B customers watch video on their path to purchase. I don’t suggest salespeople become YouTubers, but they need to utilize case study and testimonial videos (the most effective) to bolster their efforts.
We live in a video-centric era. Salespeople should embrace the ease with which they can pull out a tablet or smartphone and have a video rolling in seconds, regardless of whether they are meeting a buyer in their office, at a restaurant, or in a car. The brain responds very strongly to images and stories, making video a powerful component in any sales effort. Because of this, sales training seminars should cover best practices and tips.
Related to using pre-recorded videos in selling, is selling using live video chat. That is a practice I believe will see exponential growth in B2B sales, as it provides convenient face-to-face connections while saving on travel expenses and the like.
Gender and cultural sensitivity training
American culture is undergoing an enormous transformation, with sensitivity to the needs of different genders and the accommodation of cultural variations at an all-time high. As salespeople, we need to navigate these changing times so that no matter our personal values, we can professionally serve a diverse population of buyers.
As an example, women are increasingly influential in the business world. Just take a look at the 35 Most Influential Women in Sales published by Sales Hacker. Just a short time ago, it was uncommon to see so many women in powerful sales leadership roles. Modern selling, therefore, requires a different approach to accommodate the growing influence of the female perspective in business, and sales training seminars should reflect this in their content.
This is not so much a training topic itself, but a means for advanced sales skills training to have a greater impact on salespeople and the companies they work for.
How many training sessions have you attended which were just too patty-cake and soft? How many role plays, if any were done, were not executed in a realistic or challenging way?
There is little use in just going through the motions. Sales skills training should be tough enough to create truly competent people. As said in the Harvard Business Review, “Make practice harder than the sale itself.”
Advanced sales training seminars should, therefore, challenge attendees and encourage them to continue to practice their skills just like athletes do – with intensity. A tennis or soccer star work on their conditioning for many hours each week. He or she might perform five hours of repetitive drills in a day to prepare for a match perhaps a couple of hours long. Then, when game day comes, he or she performs at the maximum level possible. What would happen to your bottom line if your salespeople trained the same way?
In conclusion, sales training should solve modern selling challenges while upping the ante with intensity to create elite sellers. Rather than scare people away, studies show a major factor in retaining your top salespeople is investing in excellent training programs with one hundred percent participation.
Every company would do well to incorporate the above points into their advanced sales training regimens.