Sales people are, by their very nature, financially driven. Working on a commission structure, the most important thing to any sales person is how successful they are at selling their product or service. And, the way to drive successful selling, for me, is effective training. Understanding what the product or service is, who the target customers are and what challenges the solution helps the customer to overcome, are fundamental to my ability to achieve my financial goals. And the way I have developed this understanding is through a detailed training programme.
I personally took six exams to achieve a Microsoft Sales Specialist Accreditation, over a two week period when we had a break for Christmas. The good thing about the training was that it suited me to do it a little at home and a little in the office, which I was able to do with the online learning paths. I could step in and out when I needed to - my diary is very fluid - so the flexibility offered to me by the sales training meant I was able to complete the course and exams when it was convenient for me.
I found that the training not only enabled me to get up to speed quickly and easily when I joined the company, but also that through the training programme I became immersed in our vendor’s ecosystem. This meant that I became myself familiar with not just the terminology, the products and technology, but also aligned my thinking with individuals within the vendor. This had the benefit of helping to drive their confidence in my ability because they knew I had completed the training and would therefore be more likely to deliver the right solution to customers. Additionally, it gave me the insight I needed from the vendor’s perspective to help ask the right questions when I am engaging with a customer. These exploratory questions spark wider conversations and usually present me with the opportunity for upsell or cross sell.
Training our way to success
In the first part of this series, Trinity's marketing head Caroline Harvey talked about the importance of training to building a successful channel practice
The vendor training I received was supplemented with additional less formal training from Trinity, such as Brown Bag lunches, where our technical consultants educate the sales force on products and services based on customer scenarios. This combination of training means I have a structured way to generate conversation with customers and understand the value proposition, and interpret that in the context of the customer’s business. This then gives me a platform from which to become a consultant and not just a sales person – it’s a more sophisticated way of way of selling, over and above the ‘how many X do you want’ scenario. By understanding the latest technology alongside what the customer is trying to achieve it means I know with some degree of certainty what solution I need to help provide to the customer – and this is what helps to drive my job satisfaction and ultimately leads to financial reward. The more qualified I am, the better able I will be to offer the right solution to the customer and therefore increase the likelihood of a sale.
The current climate is a competitive environment where everyone is looking to differentiate, companies and individuals alike. Becoming a trusted advisor and enhancing my own personal brand with certifications helps to drive this differentiation for both parties. And, the fact that the company has invested in me by facilitating this training helps to drive greater loyalty from me for the organisation.
As a sales manager it’s now my job to offer the same opportunities to my team and by investing in their training I know I am helping them as individuals become more successful which in turn is helping the company grow.
Steve Waterman is sales manager at Trinity Expert Systems
This was first published in June 2013