Importance of Sales Training

When I started in leasing my training consisted of being given a phone book & told to make calls. I remember calling a copier vendor and he asked if we paid points. I put him on hold, turned to the guy next to me and said “What are points?” It was a brutal beginning and my lack of quick results proved it.

During the past two years many companies have stopped offering sales training. When budgets are cut, it's usually the first thing to go. This is a mistake because training helps reps see missed opportunities, explore a range of choices, and make wise decisions that close more deals. Beginning and experienced reps alike gain tools to sharpen and refine their skills. Training also reveals patterns in the sales cycle that are both successful and unsuccessful. The following are five reasons why sales training is essential to your company:

Focus On The Wrong Thing. Most leasing professionals never aspired to be sales reps, they needed a job and fell into sales. They receive initial sales training, which is mainly acquiring product knowledge, then they were released into the wild. The skills they developed along the way are ones of trial and error. Trial and error is a good thing, however to really succeed, skills need to be taught, refined, practiced and strengthened.

It's a sad situation for reps who never receive training. They make mistakes repeatedly and nobody points out that they are taking the wrong action. It's like Ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, he was trying to make a “sale” by sending pictures of his private parts to women. Guess what? Seeing that is not going to close the deal with most women. They don't want to see private parts. Men, take it from me, when women see a man in their minds eye, they are not visualizing that! Untrained sales people are the same way. They talk about the things that are near and dear to them, what they like about leasing, without determining what is most desirable to the prospect. And what about all the media attention the Weiner case is receiving? Is this a pressing issue for our country?

As I write this there are major budget negations going on at Capitol Hill and the media is hardly talking about it. It's like a sales manager focusing on trivial gossip instead of core issues. The key is to uncover what is most important to the customer and ingrain these skills into your sales force.

Necessary to Invest in Learning & Practicing Fundamentals. Today's lessees are more sophisticated than ever. There are multitudes of sales reps and fewer lessees. Selling is a complex activity that requires practice. Professional athletes spend hours every day practicing timing and execution of fundamental skills with the help expert coaches. Salespeople are no different, to stay at the top of their game, they too need to rehearse the fundamentals of their profession under the guidance of professional trainers.

Some sales managers confuse product training with sales training. Professional baseball players don't spend their time studying every detail of their bats and gloves; instead, they practice using those bats and gloves to hit and catch balls. Likewise, while understanding leasing is important, determining what motivates customers fill out an application and how to successfully solve customers' needs, is pivotal to success.

Sales training isn't about tricks, slick closing techniques or complex models that are quickly forgotten a few days after training. Effective sales training consists of developing strategies and tactics that build listening skills, and demonstrate how to effectively navigate the sales process. Even experienced sales people must constantly practice fundamental selling skills and undergo periodic training with professional sales trainers to continuously develop and update them.

Coaching vs. Managing. Leasing Industry Expert, Shawn Passman, from Passmar Consulting points out that sales mangers often confuse coaching and managing. “You manage tasks, you coach development. Continuous sales coaching is vital to get the most out of your sales team. With sales coaching everybody benefits with increased profits, repeat lessees and higher profitability”.

Most times, salespeople fail when they have less than excellent prospecting skills and don't spend sufficient time improving their performance. If you are a broker who works alone you can invest in the large selection of sales and coaching books available. Provide detectable value to your clients and they will less likely perceive you as a salesperson and more likely as a valued resource.

Ultimately, prospects buy from individuals, remember it's all about relationships and coaching improves your relationship skills. Coaching teaches reps how to pick the best prospects, how to really sell their services, and how to practice good stress management techniques. It focuses on development and what's truly on a sales reps mind. Most reps don't spend time thinking, “How Can I Close Better,” but think, “How can I make sure I'm not missing out on opportunities?”

Experienced Reps. Because of today's economy, many Sales Manager's think that their only option is to cut back on training and instead look to recruit sales professionals who, in theory anyway, already possess the necessary skills needed to do the job. However, most of those same Sales Manager's are discovering just how difficult it is to find skilled salespeople, who have all of the essential skills and personal traits. Also, it is not possible to equate experience or longevity with success. Any organization that hires only experienced salespeople and fails to provide them with proper sales training is setting itself up for disaster. The reality is that selling in today's climate is both an art and a science. Selling is a profession that demands a far wider range of skills than ever before, skills that require continual fine-tuning and constant practice.

Consistency Is Key. Ongoing reinforcement and development is essential for success. The operative word here is “ongoing”. Even if salespeople have undergone progressive sales training, there's no guarantee that they will be successful. It is common knowledge that skills grow rusty over time and salespeople are prone to pick up bad habits along the way or to simply skip steps and take shortcuts that can lead to long-term trouble. Even more important is the fact that markets, competition, technologies, and customer preferences are all in a constant and accelerating state of change. This fact requires that sales people are able and willing to rethink their sales approach frequently and receive regular skills and motivational coaching. Sales training generates goodwill and concrete skills that forge a path of excellence for your reps to follow.