Picture a scenario in which reps from your sales team are ushered into a conference room to meet with some buyers. After some small-talk and coffee, one of your best salespeople begins with a pitch about Audemars Piguet, a quality brand of luxury watches that has outstripped its competitors. The objections start rolling in. “Why not use cell phones to tell the time?” “We are a cutting edge business. We don’t want to appear outdated or old-fashioned.” What is your sales team going to do?
If they have had a proper sales training program, they will know that objections are simply part of the sales process. A strong team will have spent a significant amount of time studying the watchmaking industry and will have anticipated these objections. A strong rebuttal would look something like this: “Our clients have been watchmakers for over a hundred years! Jules Louis Audemars knew that timepieces are about more than just telling the time. They are about style and history and dignity. They are about self-esteem! Every time your employees check the time, they will know that they are valued by your organization so will every person that sees their wrists.”
Having the right sales team training for your sales force should be one of your most basic, best practices. But what should constitute the right sales training program? A lot of times, it starts with the philosophy.
A Well-Rounded Philosophy
We have all seen the stereotype—the aggressive go-getter in the Armani suit who thinks he can just alpha male his way into a sell.
According to sales writer, Blair Singer, in his book, “Sales Dogs,” these types of salespeople are known as “Pitbulls”. Their persistence can be useful at times but their insensitivity can damage relationships with prospects and even longstanding customers.
A lot of sales organizations still think that the best way to train their new hires is through on-the-job training. They put their trainees through some type of hazing until the “weak” ones quit and only the Pitbulls remain. What they fail to understand is that a lot of those perceived “weaknesses” can actually be strengths under the right circumstances.
The opposite of a pitbull is a sensitive person. Someone who actually pays attention to what the client is saying, especially when objections are involved. If a client is actually talking about a problem in the company that needs to be solved, the sales representative should be writing things down.
In addition to being good listeners, sensitive people tend to value providing excellent follow-up and customer service to any prospects they convert into customers. This level of customer service can be invaluable for creating referrals and repeat business.
Product knowledge is also an important quality for sales professionals in this post-pandemic, hyper-digitized age. Nobody expects a newbie to master all aspects of a product overnight, but all new hires should do their homework and strive to become fast learners. A lack of product knowledge appears to be a form of dishonesty in the minds of prospects and clients. “Why are you telling me to buy this product if you do not know your product?”
The truth is that there is a reason why any good sales organization has sales teams and as opposed to a collection of “lone wolves.” Nobody can reasonably expect a new hire to innately possess all of the qualities of a master sales representative.
Some will naturally have the persistence of Pitbulls and might be great for cold calling and delivering pitches. While the sensitive ones might not be the best cold callers or pitchers, they can listen to the sales calls in order to record objections and any valuable insights into the prospect’s psyche. Studious sales representatives can help write the scripts and prepare rebuttals to anticipated objections. Finally, the most experienced reps can be the closers. One of the takeaways from Singer and other experts is that sales is a team sport.