In sales seminars and sales training programmes I often talk about the difference between sales skills and sales techniques...
"Repetition is the mother of all skill." ~ Tony Robbins, author of Unlimited Power
Sales techniques are something external to you, they are something that you hear or that you know. Sales skills are something that you own, they are yours through hard work and practise. And, what's more, they won't abandon you in even the toughest of markets.
When I speak at sales conferences many salespeople sit back, cross their arms and ask for "the advanced stuff". They tell their boss that they don't need sales training because they already know it, they've heard it all before...
Take open questions as an example. Any salesperson with more than about 5 minutes selling experience knows what an open question is - a question that requires more than a "yes" or "no" answer. We all know that open questions start with the words what, where, when, why, how, who which. But how many salespeople put undue sales pressure onto their clients by asking (self-centred) closed questions when they should be asking (well constructed) open questions?
"Most salespeople" is the correct answer.
The ability to ask great questions is one of the critical skills for being a sales superstar yet most salespeople fair badly at best in this area. Think back to the first time you were taught about open questions. Did you understand it? I'm guessing that you did. Let's face it, it really isn't that complicated is it? Most salespeople hear it, think that it makes sense and move on. They hear it, they acknowledge it but they never practise it. They get it intellectually but because they never practised it, it never becomes a skill for them. It never becomes something that they own.
Put under pressure in a sales meeting or in a cold call, and with the adrenaline flowing, they revert to type asking controlling closed questions and "forgetting" to ask carefully constructed open ones.
As Robbins says, "Repetition is the mother of all skill."
- If you want to be a great golfer you need to practice your swing, over and over.
- If you want to be a great pianist you need to practice your scales, over and over.
- If you want to be a great at anything you need to practice it, over and over.
- If you want to be a great salesperson you need to practice your sales skills, over and over.
Don't wait for your boss to put you on a sales training program. Don't wait for your sales results to fall off a cliff. Don't wait until it's nearly too late to start. Start now and make regular sales training practice of your selling skills part of your daily habits. You'll be amazed what you can achieve from a mere 15 minutes a day practicing your basic sales skills.
If you're a sales manager, sales leader or business owner then you need to think about how you can help your sales team to practice their core sales skills regularly. One-off training is not enough by itself. You need to create ongoing sessions and exercises for them to participate in, both individually and as a team.
Not convinced it's worth the effort? Not convinced you can get the same results?