Get the Most Out of Your Remote Sales Training

Guest Blog | John Barrows

Remote sales training definitely has its challenges. But there are also some specific benefits that, when presented effectively, outweigh the challenges.

The biggest challenge of remote sales training is based on the different ways people communicate.  If the remote training is phone-based – using WebEx, for example, to deliver Powerpoint slides with limited interaction – you’re most likely going to lose people because they will consider it a passive exercise.

However, an increasing number of people who have grown up in a digital age are starting to enter the workforce, making remote sales training that is based on engagement (video, audio, social channels) more palatable to both business owners and sales managers.

The overriding goal with any sales training should be to change certain bad habits and provide some new tools that can easily be applied to building sales leads and your customer base.  Remote training also needs to be delivered in a way that fits into a sales rep’s busy life and has an immediate impact on his results (rather than something that’s forgotten after several months, if not weeks).

There are several ways to ensure that remote sales training is cost-effective and provides benefits over the long term: First, similar to on-site training, make sure the trainer is, or at least recently was, a sales rep with real-world experience.   Second, make sure the program has multiple short sessions (ideally, 90 minutes each) instead of a one-time sessions. Third, remote training should have a video component so the reps can see the instructor (addressing ways in which people communicate non-verbally, e.g. body language). However, make sure the video doesn’t stay on-screen the entire time;  use it to highlight a point or show something a Powerpoint can’t demonstrate.

Another component to successful remote sales training: management involvement.  Such training goes a lot further if the sales team can all be in one room along with the manager, who can encourage participation and demand attention.  If not, then management has to let the team know they will be held responsible for the assignments and whatever else is involved in the training.

Perhaps most important, there should be follow-up sessions scheduled after the initial training session to determine what challenges or success stories can be related back to the training and what areas of training need to be fine-tuned.

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn more about increasing sales productivity.

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John Barrows is managing partner of  sales training and consulting firm Kensei Partners.  He can be reached at jbarrows@kenseipartners.com.

 

Increase Sales Productivity and Motivate Your Sales Force

Guest Blog | Dave Kurlan

Do your salespeople have the desire and commitment to do whatever it takes – every day – to reach their goals?  Here are several tips for how sales managers can motivate, inspire, cajole and incent their sales teams to make their numbers and then some.

Goals – Raise expectations in order to celebrate superior performance.  Don’t forget two crucial items: First, you need a forecast and plan derived from goals (not the other way around) and second, goals are derived from the individual’s income requirements.

Incentives – If an individual has the goals but the company’s compensation isn’t designed to reward superior achievement, the incentive to perform can’t be maintained.  If the company has a rock-solid compensation plan but the goals are lame, the personal incentive to perform will be missing.

Managing the pipeline – The key to managing the pipeline effectively is working with your critical ratios.  Use the Monthly goal, closing percentage, average sale and length of the sell-cycle  You need to determine for your sales team how many new opportunities must enter the sales pipeline each month; how much the opportunities need to be worth and strict deadlines to reach the goal(s).

Accountability – You must hold each salesperson accountable to something measurable every day, such as the number of conversations required to schedule the number of sales calls required to identify said opportunities. Perhaps more important, you must have consequences (like no gas reimbursement) for failing to meet those requirements and consistently follow through whenever necessary. Develop the nerve for full accountability and you’re nearly there.

Skills – The more the better, but let’s focus on the most important skill sets for overachieving.  Your salespeople must be able to hunt for new opportunities, identify the most qualified and be able to close them.  Anything else they can do is bonus.

Urgency – Your salespeople must have enough urgency to get their opportunities closed, when they become closable, even when their prospects are using stall tactics. Prospects may have had compelling reasons to buy in the first place, but people have short memories.  The time away from dwelling on the problems desensitizes prospects to the problems they had intended to solve.  Successful salespeople won’t let that happen because they bring a sense of urgency to things while unsuccessful salespeople are afraid that if they make repeated follow-up attempts their prospects will feel pestered.

Weaknesses – Unfortunately, there are weaknesses among individual sales reps that will neutralize all of the previous eight factors.  A few red flags: non-supportive buy cycle; a need for approval; a tendency to become emotionally involved and money issues.

Coaching and sales training – Your coaching must support any training initiative and help salespeople overcome their weaknesses, develop skills and master the selling process.  While most training will be conducted by sales development experts from outside your firm, the coaching absolutely takes place from within.  Pre-call strategizing and post-call debriefing, with every salesperson, are daily requirements.

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Dave Kurlan, CEO of  Objective Management Group, is author of “Baseline Selling: How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball. ” Dave blogs about sales management at Understanding the Sales Force. He can be reached at dkurlan@objectivemanagement.com.

Contact ZoomInfo today for more information about increasing sales productivity and motivating your sales team.

 

Adding ‘fun’ factor to sales networking events

Q&A | Adrian Miller

Adrian Miller has had enough Merlot. “Sometimes standing around [at an event] holding that stupid glass of wine gets very tiresome,” said Miller, founder, president-CEO of Adrian Miller Sales Training, which offers executive-level consulting and sales training.  At your garden variety networking event, “people may be engaged in a conversation and not know how to extricate themselves, or not want to extricate themselves because they’re scared to go onto to the next person,” Miller added.

When it comes to pressing the flesh these days, sales managers must take pains to separate their events from the pack.  For instance, Miller recently hosted an event for her clients at Bath Junkie, in lower Manhattan, where guests were able to concoct their own lotions, creams and bath cleansers. “It’s a chemistry lab for adults,” Miller said. “It’s much better to have a common activity and something that can be shared. By sharing activities, people can wind up having very substantial conversations.”  Miller, whose clients include Cotronics Corp. and Lonely Planet, offered some other tips on effective networking for sales execs.

ZoomInfo: What’s your strategy for online networking?

Miller: Primarily to build visibility, credibility and recognition not only for my company, but personal brand. The strategy is to deploy appropriate articles, links, event notices and other relevant information that would contribute to the reader drawing an impression of – and a feeling for – who I am and what I do. Used strategically, [online networking] should only be able to help, and certainly not hurt, what sales execs are trying to do. People need to make sure that they don’t allow things to appear [online] that would necessarily be contradictory to the image they are trying to grow.

ZoomInfo: When it comes to live networking events, what are some of the ways that sales executives can distinguish their companies?

Miller: The way companies can stand out from the outrageous clutter of networking events that are around 24/7 is to be very careful about who they invite and what’s the ultimate deliverable they want to provide. Is there an informational component, say, bringing in a speaker to address a topic relevant to that audience, coupled with time at the beginning [or end] for focused networking? Should there be facilitators working the room, helping to put peoples’ hands together? Should there be follow-up and follow-through? Make it different (see above) and make it worth somebody’s $50.

ZoomInfo:  What’s your take on social media as a networking tool?

Miller: It levels the playing field to a certain degree. It can start the relationship, but no one does business with someone who they know only through some Facebook conversation. No one selects a vendor because they saw a name on LinkedIn. It requires a lot more work, but [social media] enables sales execs to access untold number of people and companies that they didn’t have access to before. It gives sales execs the ability to expand those contacts and connections that, through nurturing, will lead to something more substantial.

ZoomInfo: What are some of the most chronic mistakes sales executives are making in networking, online or offline?

Miller: They spread themselves too thin and then do not stay on the grid of all the people they’re meeting. They shake a hand, they take a card, maybe they follow-up once, but they totally forget that business development is a process and a long-term engagement. It may be better to do less, but more [with contacts]. The other thing is [sales execs thinking it’s all about them. They’re a lot of people who will take your time and tell you who they are what they do and never will the conversation circle back to, ‘And by the way, what can I do for you?’ The biggest mistake is not having a really good touch-point management system in place so that sales execs can ultimately turn all those contacts they’re making into business, instead of a nice card that’s scanned into your computer.

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Adrian Miller has a lively online network at Adrian’s Network.  She can be reached at adrian@adrianmiller.com.

 

Increase Sales Productivity By Personalizing Online Communication

Sales execs, perhaps more so than other business professionals, have a talent for picking up on non-verbal communication when meeting face-to-face with clients or potential clients. The furrowed brow. The fidget. Darting eyes. Nervous laughter. They are various signals to sales executives that they may need to modulate and/or adjust their strategy to make the person sitting (or standing) across from them more comfortable with the situation. After all, non-verbal communication is at least 50% -70% of all communication, depending on whom you ask.

Still, even with non-verbal communication sales executives have the benefit of being in the physical presence of clients and, depending on the signal(s), have the opportunity to make alterations right then and there. Not so online, where sales executives are increasingly selling their products and services.

As Patricia Wallace, Ph. D. and author of “The Psychology of the Internet,” told The Wall Street Journal recently, on the Web “nobody sees you yawn.”  (It reminds us of a famous New Yorker cartoon that conveys a similar thought.) We were quite taken with the quote and decided to contact Wallace to get her take on the psychological challenges of online sales.

The use of language – crafting e-mail messages or leaving verbal messages on the telephone – cannot be underestimated. Sales execs “need to understand that the Web environment is fraught with one potential or another to say something that is going to be grossly misinterpreted,” said Wallace, who is also senior director, CTYOnline and Information Technology at Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.

Part of the challenge is how to harness the type of skills (verbal and otherwise) that click in face-to-face settings to the online environment, Wallace said. She stressed that because online sales are (generally; read: Skype) not face-to-face, sales executives must be more personal (and respectful) in both tone and delivery.

It starts with the opt-in approach and being sensitive to privacy issues “They need to lean on the side of opt-in, and ask people, ‘If I give you this information will it be a benefit to you?’” Wallace said.

She added that joining appropriate social networks is another way that sales executives can get to know prospects in their space via a more personal vein. Sales execs also might consider establishing their own social networks in which the point is not products and services, per se. Wallace pointed to Johnson & Johnson as an example of how companies can use social media to their advantage. Johnson & Johnson’s health channel, on YouTube, features a wide array of videos designed to promote a better understanding of health and healthcare delivery throughout the world.

“The idea is to say ‘Let’s provide a service,’ a place where people can obtain value,” Wallace said. “[Sales execs] need to touch buyers in ways that go beyond a click-through or a cold-blooded checkout. It’s a face-to-face meeting, followed up by an e-mail, with an invitation to a Webinar or a special event.”

Contact ZoomInfo today to see how we can help personalize your online outreach and increase your sales productivity.

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