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August 23, 2013

New Approaches to Sales Training

James Giese UWEBC Communications Director

riestererNew sales training and coaching should provide market-ready messages and tools that marketers and salespeople can use to tell a compelling story, according to Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Corporate Visions, Inc.

He discussed training techniques for leaders that allow the sales team to embrace and manage the tension in the sales process; have bolder sales conversations; and add value at every stage in the sales process during the UWEBC’s Sales Operations Peer Group Meeting on July 25.

Riesterer said that even after investing millions in the deployment of sales initiatives involving pricing strategies, sales processes, and customer acquisition, organizations still fail to reach desired sales goals. He said these efforts have failed because management neglects the most important elements required for success: the ability of the sales team to manage the tension in the sales process, have potentially challenging conversations about new needs and solutions, and avoid costly mistakes as they navigate through the sales process. Training that recognizes these challenges can have a great impact.

 “Helping your sales managers become better coaches will help ensure that your sales team uses and profits from the training you’ve invested in,” said Riesterer.

Riesterer highlighted the following techniques to make sales training and coaching successful:

1. Appeal to “just-in-time, opportunity-specific” learning. Develop sales training that leverages the current sales process. Implement opportunity-specific training on techniques that add value to the sales team. For example, provide training on what kind of sales conversation is most effective at a given time and place.

2. Engage with simple, concrete visuals. Take advantage of the “picture superiority effect” in which a simple visual will help increase understanding, retention, and retelling of information.

3. Provide coaching training for frontline managers. Coaching of sales managers makes adoption of sales training two to four times more likely than training without coaching.

4. Increase the value of your sales force. Spend time and effort having a conversation with the customer, not reciting endless numbers and features. The sales force should focus on offering customers a solution provided by a product or service.

“The real opportunity to create legitimate new business—with both prospects and customers—is to identify additional 'net new' needs that your buyers didn’t really suspect were important,” said Riesterer, “Introduce capabilities to address those new needs and create unexpected, new value.”

These new sales conversations are the product of a cross-functional effort to develop provocative messages around unconsidered customer needs. These conversations build contextual value stories around how an organization's capabilities resolve those unconsidered needs.

“You must put this unique, new content into equally distinctive selling tools that break through the clutter by using visual stories delivered in consultative conversations on a whiteboard or flip chart, “ said Riesterer, “You must get your salespeople to practice these new conversations, and get your managers to coach to these new kinds of customer interactions.”

Member companies can access Mediasite recording and other meeting materials>>

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