Fin-tail management – 9
− Hi Mats. The Fish here!
− Fish? What Fish?
− Remember? We talked last week about recruiting and you said I could come back to discuss training and mainly sales training?
− Yeah, sorry Fish, welcome to talk, but I am on my way to Brazil.
− To Brazil? Swimming?
− No, stupid, flying of course! Swimming is your thing. Now to your questions please.
− Ok! Let me start by asking you, could just anyone be a good salesperson or are there only certain characters that are aimed for it?
− Being a salesperson is nothing special. Not at all. Despite all books that try to glorify this profession as something magical not to mention the expression “star salesman”. Disgusting! This is a normal job for normal people. As always, it demands a certain portion of talent, human feelings, good routines and sound habits. But what job doesn’t? If you are a hero−driven person you’d better be a pilot or an astronaut.
− Interesting! What is most important for a good sales person; product knowledge or sales sophistication? Or perhaps it’s the sum of both?
− They are connected of course but also depending on which line of business you’re in. The production industry requires cost efficiency and adaption to its present production. In this case you can’t be without superior product knowledge. In other lines of business, cleaning products for example, the sales talent is more deciding. But remember, in all cases professional sales people do know the consequences of improving the client’s present situation with it’s offer and following benefits, as well as the drawbacks of not buying. It’s a pro-and-con calculation that professionals master.
− Is product knowledge a normal part of sales training or is that something “on the side”?
− Good question! There’s a certain gap here, but this needs to be considered all the time. Before taking on an assignment, we do deep analyses. And if any analysis would show a lack of product knowledge, we tell them to improve it, with or without our help. Otherwise, we would be unserious.
− A stupid question perhaps Mats, but could one start by having open training sessions with the applicants, and based on their behaviors there do the recruiting afterwards?
− I myself was once hired this way, but that was in the mid 70’. Nowadays there are so many highly effective methods to do a professional evaluation before hiring a person. On the other hand, real professional sales executives often do the hiring themselves, based only on their gut feeling and experience.
− When you implement your training sessions, are they customer made or “one size fits all”?
− Customer made! We always adjust our efforts to the client’s business models and needs. In our preparations we participate in/with the people in their daily routines to come as close as possible to their actual situation. By doing so, we are much more trustworthy and may thereby offer highly needed and appreciated services. Joint calls are a very good method. I myself have over the past 30 years made more than 1,400 such calls.
− Is role-play a good training method?
− I don’t like the word “role play”. It sounds like a theater school. It’s not about that. It’s more like a training camp, where cases from reality are being dealt with and solved. We do it in groups of three people. The reality is the constant factor, as that’s what the participants must deal with every day. Training isn’t an occasional thing, No, it’s a very frequent ingredient in all professional sales groups. As a matter of fact, it’s not far away from an athletics’ view on training!
− When you’ve been given an assignment, does the company normally say, “come here and train my people?” or do they say “our results are not good enough, something has to be done. Help us?”
− Both, but we never take on an assignment without rigorous preparations. So, it doesn’t really matter what they say in the beginning.
− One more thing Mats, how many participants do you think is ideal for a sales training group?
− Oh, shit, what a turbulence right now! How many people you said… It depends very, very much. But let’s say from three to nine. I got to strap in and close all equipment because of the turbulence, including the cellphone. Ok?
− Thanks Anyway Mats!
I don’t think he heard me. Now I’m glad being a fish again. No turbulence, only calm and silent waters. But of course, he reaches Brazil a lot faster than I ever would.