For most of my career I have been involved in technical product sales. This is an ever changing market with some serious training challenges. Train a sales staff on a product today to only have that product change drastically next month and your efforts negated.
There is also a credibility issue I have found when a new salesperson gets trained on a product to only find later that it’s not what I had trained on any longer. They now look at my sales manager abilities as less than. Frustrating.
What I prefer to train on are probing, non-interrogating, questions to find pains and repetitions. Then through research and presentations using technical, vendor, and manufacturer resources… uncover and present an up-to-date customized focused solution proposal.
With that said… in every team certain sales people want and “need” product knowledge detailed training or they feel “naked” in the field and have a rough time with confidence and ultimately sales success. I cave in and train on products and details as to not be viewed as a “terrible manager”. I introduce them to all the resources necessary to get to the “ones and zeros” of the products. They are now warm and fuzzy. And these professionals become my top sales people right?
What I have found, and suspected would be the case, is that these now technically product proficient salespeople are, too often, the worst salespeople. Why?
“Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” – Oscar Wilde
Too Much Information
Please don’t get me wrong. I totally believe a sales staff needs product training. 100 to 500 foot level however. More importantly they need to understand the value proposition or end user benefit more than how it actually works. Here’s why…
The temptation to regurgitate too many features, overwhelming and confusing the customer, resulting in longer sales cycles and even lost deals, is just too great.
There’s also the temptation to use technical or product jargon in their sales pitches. Again, overwhelming and confusing.
Here’s an example… A sales person spent the first half-an-hour of an hour presentation on the intricacies of setting up the web conferencing product. The potential customer had to actually ask to move on with the presentation to get to the benefits for them. Not good.
Then there’s this… To simply point out that extra product attribute they may be so proud of, without any research as to their needs, could turn the prospect off and kill the sale. I have seen this time and time again in the field. Many times the new sales person, or even experienced sales person, miss this and can’t seem to understand how the deal went sour. So what’s the solution?
Keep it Simple and Focused
If you’ve read any of my articles you know I’m a big fan of simple and easy. Instead of educating the customer take the time to find out what their needs are. Don’t start spouting off products and product details that you offer. Of course you’ll need to be able to speak to your product when asked. Just don’t “build the watch when they ask for the time”.
Ask open-ended questions that allow your potential customer to reveal their real needs. Smart salespeople ask questions to uncover specific problems and align their products as solutions to those problems. That’s it!© 2006-2018 SalesBlog! | Photos courtesy of 123RF | Posted on