For years, organizations have offered professional training to help their external and phone sales teams improve their ability to influence and win customers. Yet many have missed the opportunity to improve company revenue and profit by extending appropriate sales skills to other customer-facing teams. Sales training is not just for sales people—especially if you are interested in teaching your post-sale teams how to add revenue to a successful sale. It’s an opportunity you should not miss.
Who is it—beyond your sales team members—that is the face of your organization to your clients? Who brings value to the customers after the sales representatives have done their job? Is it customer service, field service, associates at the customer counter, account management, estimators or the installation staff? These people often spend more time with a client than the sales team. And they are in a position to add significant incremental sales at a much lower cost than that of acquiring a new customer.
From Prospects to Customers
Consider the commercial or residential construction, remodeling, landscaping and roofing industries, which have estimators providing quotes for prospective customers. Some are considered sales representatives—although many have never received any professional sales training—but many are focused only on estimating. In either case, they see your prospect early in the decision-making process, when competition can be fierce and “putting your best foot forward” is critical to winning a new customer. At this point of a sale, asking questions that help a prospect think can make all the difference in building a level of trust that leads a prospect to become a customer.
Perhaps it is your internal team, which deals with customer issues or needs on an almost-daily basis, that would benefit from some selling skills. I spent much of my own career in the field, and my customer service and inside sales partners often knew about my customers’ needs before me because they spoke with them more often. Their knowledge of the customer often grew our joint business, and our results improved when they were empowered—and trained—to move sales ahead on their own. We all reaped the benefit.
See the Opportunity
So if it works so well, why do companies resist training customer teams to sell? It isn’t so much that they resist, but that their staff is resistant to becoming the stereotypically pushy salesperson who we all want to avoid. That is why you should search for a selling skills program that truly places the customer first and teaches your staff to care more about the customer than they care about themselves. This type of commitment shines through in a relationship. It begins with how a conversation opens and carries through to asking questions, handling concerns or indifference, and asking for a commitment. As in all endeavors, professionalism counts.
Success might be as simple as the famous McDonald’s question—“Do you want fries or an apple pie with that?”—which increased sales more than 20 percent. It could be “Have you thought about how that new end table would look with a coordinating lamp?” or “What is it that you are hoping to accomplish with this remodeling project?” It may be as simple as training your team to help a customer make a commitment. Your program should be tailored to your prospects and their goals, your goals, and your staff. I hope you see the opportunity. iBi
Ed Grelle is Vice President, Training and Organizational Development, for AAIM Employers’ Association.