It’s no wonder that sales training often leaves salespeople reeling. We tell reps: Do this! Do that! If the buyer says x, you say y — unless, of course, the buyer also said z, in which case you should say…
Sales training gets complicated because Sales is complicated. As a trainer, you can never cover all the variety and complexity of even a single sales conversation. And even if you could, reps wouldn’t remember it all anyway.
So if you can’t cover everything, obviously it makes sense to focus on the things that deliver the biggest bang for the buck. But that’s where things usually get complicated again. For example, everybody has an opinion about the most important element in a sales conversation. Is it asking good questions? Building rapport? Establishing credibility? Who’s to say?
I recently wrote an article for the Salesforce.com blog that highlights some hard facts about what goes into a good sales call. The findings are based on a computer analysis of millions of sales calls across a wide variety of industries, collected by a company called LogMyCalls. Its Conversation Analytics software analyzes the words and phrases used on calls, for buyers and sellers alike. (This infographic shows how it works.)
The research found that three factors in particular delivered the biggest bang for the buck on a sales call:
- Building credibility
- Restating the customer’s needs
- Asking for the sale (or asking for the next step in a complex sale)
Each of these factors more than doubled the likelihood of a “conversion.” (In some cases, a conversion was an actual sale; in others, it was achievement of the call objective, such as an appointment being set or a buyer using language like “Send me the contract.”)
Now, most people would agree that these elements are important. But what I like about this research is the clarity it provides: It says that of all the possible things to focus on in a sale, these are the three that matter most.
I also like the fact that these are all simple elements that reps can easily incorporate into any sales conversation. For example, “building credibility” really boils down to salespeople reassuring inbound prospects that they’ve come to the right place. “Restating needs” is equally simple — reps should feed back what buyers tell them, which lets buyers know that they’ve been understood. And “asking for the sale” — well, that speaks for itself.
You may think that this is all too simple. After all, everybody knows to ask for the order, right? Well, the research found otherwise: It revealed that fewer than 15% of salespeople were actually making the ask. The researchers also found that when reps were specifically trained to ask for the order, that percentage jumped significantly — and so did conversions.
If you’re looking for some quick sales-training wins, it seems to me that these three elements are a good place to start. The techniques are validated by research, simple to teach and simple to put into practice.
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