“Never stop learning because life never stops teaching”, goes the old adage. Nowhere is this truer than in sales training situations. The market is continually evolving and so is technology.
How people buy and you sell are continually evolving. The market, economy, commercial transactions, technology involved are also continuously changing. To be at par with the pace of the changes, it is essential to include skill assessment and enhancement to keep pace with the changing and ongoing process. Whereas, eliminating redundant behaviours, practice and useful application of sales skills are all continuous processes. If you also ensure that the training you impart is an ongoing process that continues to evolve and adapt; then you’re doing everything right to ensure the growth trajectory of your sales!
How to ensure continuous learning for better Sales
Not only should your sales teams’ skill set continue to widen and improve, but also evolve and change in ways that adapt to current requirements.
- Set learning goals and selling objectives – When goals are set out, it is easier to work towards achieving them by proper scheduling and by making smaller incremental gains towards the ultimate goal. Set superordinate goals instead of calling them organisational goals. Superordinate goals are ones that are so challenging to reach for both the employees and organisations to reach individually, that they achieve it by coming together. Peter Drucker, in 1954, spoke about Management by Objectives, where the chief aim was to align organisational goals with employee goals. Use reinforcements to acknowledge their achievements, even if they haven’t reached their final objective. It will provide them with more motivation to stay on track. However, do not always use monetary incentives. Sometimes, verbal appreciation in front of everyone also makes a huge impact.
- Foster internal and external networking – Encourage your sales team to create new connections with potential buyers and to develop relationships with them that go beyond merely making a sales pitch and closing a sale. Internal networking and improved cooperation within your sales team will have positive impacts. Organisational networking says, your sales team with your marketing team promote better overall understanding and help all your people work in tandem towards a common goal. Also encourage them to maintain and strengthen existing connections, etc.
- Support and encourage innovation – Innovation is the key requirement in today’s world, to stay ahead of your competitors. With the tremendous increase in technology, creative solutions and strategising are what people are now required for. This is because most of the executive jobs are being/ can be automated. Encourage your selling person or team to think out of the box and to create innovative solutions for new challenges. Your sales people have the benefit of actual selling experience and may be able to provide practical solutions to actual problems that may not be in the ‘manual’ but which may work very well indeed.
- Facilitate career advancement – Motivate your team with the possibility of advancement within the organization or with bonuses. Foster a healthy spirit of competition, so that enhanced selling performance becomes a reward in itself! This has been propagated since the beginning of management practices and has been advised by eminent theorists, from Weber to Drucker. If your employees see a personal benefit within your organisation, they will be more motivated to do the tasks, than simply slogging on with bleak prospects for themselves.
- Listen and learn – Listening well, and learning is an important aspect of effective communication. Reason being you may listen and find new ways to tweak your sales pitch. Listening to your employees or subordinates also makes them feel heard, and their ideas valued by the organizational entity. Hence, it increases their self-esteem, belongingness to the company, and enhances their productivity.
- Mentor and offer guidance – Remain approachable and ready to help at all times. Involve the experts if technical guidance or detailed product information is required. Create a cooperative and learning [convivial] atmosphere where sales personnel are not hesitant to ask for help or to offer it to others. Reward them for their altruistic behaviour or tendency to take initiatives. However, do not make the reinforcement process habitual or necessarily monetary. This may increase organizational citizenship behaviour among your employees.