Training Salespeople in a Relationship Focused Way

Setting-up a Training Function

I was happy being a HR officer in the technology company and didn’t really want to change roles, but the HR director had other ideas. We need a training function; how do you fancy setting one up?

Now, you might think that his choice of words meant that this was an opportunity that I had a choose in. You would be wrong. No matter which way I looked at this was an instruction.

You’re the ideal person was the consensus of my colleagues who all knew that the senior management team were not really that enthusiastic about training. If they needed new skills, they hired them in. But this was getting very expensive.

Add to that the increasing number of people who were leaving because of the lack of development opportunities, and you have the perfect case for creating a training function.

Training Away Problems in the Sales Department

I got an idea of just how complex the challenge was going to be when I was told that I wasn’t being given any training budget. I would have to scrim money from department managers to pay for any training I provided.

When I was given my first objective my heart sank. “We need to increase sales.” the Head of Sales said, “but to do that we’ll have to improve the skills of the sales team”.

Now anyone in training knows that if any form of skills training is going to be expensive it is going to be sales training. You don’t pay for the sales trainer’s time; you pay for the value the training adds to the business. And with sales the value added is potentially huge, but also thankfully, easy to measure.

A Relationship Based Approach to Selling

That is when I started researching different approaches to selling. I quickly learnt that it’s not how you sell that is important; it is how your customer wants to buy that should be paramount in your mind. Which means that understanding customers, needs to be the focus of any sales training plan.

If your salespeople can understand the person or the people, they are selling to and behave in a way that the potential customer relates to then they are more likely to buy.

It is an approach that is even more important today than it was back in the day when I took on responsibility for training.

In today’s increasingly polarized world, everyone is looking for people who are like them. There is, after all, safety in similarity and familiarity. We all identify and want to be close to people who we regard as being in the same tribe as us. For the sales organisation and the individual salesperson It’s all about finding a way to engage with the potential customer which helps them to see the salesperson as a member of their tribe.

So, if as trainers we train salespeople in how to sell in away that engages with the potential customers, they are more likely to be successful.

How do we do that?

Free Abstract of unReceptive by Tom Stanfill

Well, Tom Stanfill who has been researching this approach for over 25 years with 100,000 sellers in 35 countries explains what he calls the Sales-Engagement approach in his book unReceptive.

You can discover more about this approach in the four-page abstract of this book which is available from DPG partner Work Place Learning Centre for free. Simply follow this link.

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During a career as a human resources and employee development professional that started in 1981 Michael Millward has worked around the world in a wide range of businesses from start-ups to major conglomerates. His industry experience includes, local and national government, manufacturing, financial services, retail, distribution, hi-tech, e-commerce.

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