Training you never knew you needed, but desperately do

by

Published: August 7,2006

I had this question from a reader recently: Where should I take my next week of training?

Salespeople often make the fatal mistake of investing in more “sales” training. Why? If you’re going to take a week of training, and you already have sales fundamentals at your control, and you’re a regular reader of sales books, it’s time for you to jump the fence and convert from selling skills to buying motives and customer understanding.

I am going to recommend a training regime that will put you so far ahead of your competition, they’ll be scrambling to find out what’s going on. But here’s the key: You have to have customers who love you and are willing to share information with you, and you have to be willing to take a cold, hard look at where you are and where you want to grow.

If your customers love you and you’re willing to step to the next level, here are the training steps you need to take in order to get there:

1. Select your five biggest customers, or your five most important customers, and volunteer to spend one day working for them. The imperative of this action is to discover how they use your product or your service. Find out how your product impacts their business, or their customers’ business, by being at your customer’s location, and being involved in what happens. While you’re there, look for how your product or service affects your customer’s productivity, morale, communication and profit. Look for impact, feedback and especially ideas.

NOTE: It’s interesting to me that 99.9% of all product education takes place in your business, at your training facilities. You’re learning in a vacuum. ONE DAY at a customer’s location is worth 30 days of your own in-house education, maybe more.

2. Enroll in Toastmasters, or take some kind of presentation skills course. A large percentage of your sales success is based on your ability to present a compelling message. Odds are, you’ve never seen yourself make your sales presentation on video. The same odds are that you think you’re “pretty good” at making a presentation. I’ll be happy to take the other side of that bet. I’ll take the side of the bet that says, as you watch yourself make a presentation, you at once realize that your skills are nowhere near where you thought they were.
Presentation skills are one of the least taught areas of selling, and one of the most critical. Your ability to present in front of a group, and be compelling, will make your one-on-one presentations seem like a piece of cake.

Obviously, it will take more than one week to get good at presentation skills. I recommend that you take a class for an hour or two a week, and stay in that class for years.

Presentation skills evolve over time, and they require self-evaluation in order to give you the real-world jolt to get to the next level.

NOTE: Watching myself present has been the single most powerful element in my own improvement. It took me more than five years of filming myself before I got to the point where I admitted that I liked it. The lesson will be hard, but the rewards will be phenomenal.

3. Take a few hours and look at your sales numbers. Not just your total sales, look at the make-up of the number-sets that create sales. If it takes you four appointments to make one sale, and 10 calls or interactions to make one appointment, that means you need 40 calls to make four appointments — to make one sale. Take your numbers all the way back to the root, and discover how you can keep your pipeline full. Then fill it.

NOTE: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an urgent e-mail from a salesperson, telling me they “need this one sale at the end of the month” in order to make their quota or their goal. The reason that they need the sale is that their (your) pipeline is empty. And most of the time, that “one needed sale” will not come through by the date needed. The fact is, there would have been half a dozen customers, ready to buy — if the salesperson had concentrated on pipeline, instead of “one deal.”

3.5. Spend an afternoon in your library. Not your local library, your personal library. Take a look at what books you have, what books you’ve read, what books you wish you’d read, and what books are missing. Make three lists of 10. The 10 books you have read that have most impacted your thinking. The 10 books that are in your library (or you need to acquire) that you will read over the next 10 months. And finally, the 10 benefits of reading them.

NOTE: Your personal library contains a wealth of knowledge. All you have to do is read to succeed.

GitBit: If you would like a list of the books I recommend, go to www.gitomer.com, register if you are a first time visitor, and enter the words SALES PILLS in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
salesman@gitomer.com.

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