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5 Infallible Training Tips To Help Make the Sale Happen Now

So your customers get what they need and your company can grow

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BY Vanessa Merit Nornberg - 12 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

This morning, I took my three year old son to look for a balance bike. Rather than buy it online, or at a big box toy or children's goods store, we went all the way across town to a specialized bike store which showed many options on their website. When we got there, the sales guy pulled down the only model they actually had in the shop, adjusted the seat to fit my son, and said very little. The bike looked too small, and I asked if he thought it was the right fit. He mumbled something about how the balance bikes are all the same size--which I knew to be untrue from the 5 minutes I had spent researching the bike before coming to the store. Then I asked if he could tell me how one could tell if the bike was the best model for my son in terms of weight of the frame, he told me there aren't really many options, which was again, patently false. Exasperated, I left the store without making a purchase. As I did, I thought about what it takes to ensure that your sales team is not unraveling sales that were meant to be closed:

Teach salespeople to be detailed

Customers are well-informed these days thanks to the internet, but they should never know more than your sales reps. If customers seek input from your company, rather than just checking out online, it's because they want more details than they were able to find themselves. The bike sales guy showed me he was not able to sell me the minute he was unable to answer my questions about the weights, materials, sizing, and adaptability of the balance bikes available from his company. Allowing sales reps who don't know what they're talking about to engage with customers is the equivalent of helping your client take things out of his cart rather than filling it up.

Push salespeople to be present

As owners and managers, we are responsible for monitoring our employees constantly to make sure the time they spend with a potential customer is free of distractions, unfettered by multitasking, and done with the intent of bringing about a solution for the customer, no matter what it takes. As my son was trying out the bike in the store, the sales guy chose to blab with his colleagues rather than look at how my son was faring on the bike, and in so doing, he missed the chance to inform and close me. Permitting employees to text, chat with colleagues, or spend time restocking when they are supposed to be working with customers is the fastest way to walk your customers to the door--before they even have a chance to make a purchase.

Encourage salespeople to be the leader in every interaction

Sales get sidetracked when sales reps allow the customer to do their job for them. When I saw that the bike was not the right size for my son, I had to ask the sales guy if his other stores might have other models, and he only reticently checked. A good sales rep should already be thinking about all options to clear the way for the sale, and must lead the client in that direction to close. Waiting for the customer to resolve her own obstacle is a no-no--a client shouldn't have to pay for the privilege of selling herself.

Inspire salespeople to think creatively

Selling is not about order taking, it's about problem solving. Problems get solved when people get determined and creative. I wanted a bike for my son, and I had clearly come with the intent to purchase. The sales guy could have offered to show me other models available online, or to have some shipped to the store for us to try, and I would have happily accepted, but he didn't. He was just going to let me leave empty-handed. Making sure that sales reps aren't just going through the motions but really thinking about how to conclude the sale is the most important thing we can train them to do. The sales process shouldn't stop when the customer hits a roadblock. It stops when the customer's problem is resolved.

Require salespeople to find other ways to help change the customer's life

A customer may come in asking for something very specific, but that does not mean the conversation should start and end with that one item. A customer may give voice to one need, but in the process open the door to discussing others. The bike store sales guy heard me ask about balance bikes, but he also had bikes with training wheels, and even regular bikes that he could have proposed and made a case for when he saw he was not going to be able to supply me with the balance bike I had come in for. Sales reps need to be taught how to think beyond the customer's ask to find the real opportunity to close the deal.

Salespeople can lose sales as easily as they can win them. Equipping them to close is your best defense.